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Home Sale Safety: Protect Your Home, Your Agent and yourself

Posted on 05 June 2008 by admin

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Ted Gaurnero asked:

Selling your home requires that you open your house to strangers and allow them access to areas that would normally only be open to trusted friends and family. Unfortunately, we can’t trust everyone, even those who “look okay”. Securing your home and property against crime is a good step to take, especially when you are allowing people you don’t know to come inside. Protecting the interests of your real estate agent is also a big step in this endeavor.

One of the best things you can do is engage the services of a Realtor, who will escort people through your home and keep an eye on them. An experienced agent will screen people at the office and take precautions against criminals gaining access to your home. Real estate professionals are often in the business of escorting strangers through houses and many have become more knowledgeable about crime prevention in this situation. It’s a smart thing to ask an agent what kinds of crime prevention policies they have in place before hiring them.

Many agents will not conduct an open house, house tour or meet people without first having an in-office interview and taking down information, such as a copy of the driver’s license and perhaps the license plate number of the car. This is mainly to preserve their safety, but it can also help preserve yours and that of your home. More than one person at a house tour or showing means that there is less of a chance of someone trying to take advantage of as single representative. This also means that they are less likely to try to steal your property or vandalize your home.

There have been cases where agents have been killed and homes have been burned or otherwise damaged, so take what your agent does for safety seriously. Your agent deserves to be as safe as possible and anything you can do in that regard is well worth your time. In addition to the horror of having someone robbed, raped or murdered in your home, the stigma of being the site of a serious crime could make the value of your home come crashing down. Support your agent and encourage them to take all possible steps to secure their safety.

When your home is being shown, put all valuables away in secure containers. Some people go so far as to rent a storage locker for excess property when staging their homes; your valuables can go here as well. Otherwise, place them in inconspicuous containers and place them well out of sight. Make sure your agent knows all the entrances and exits from your home and property, so s/he knows where to check and what to secure after a showing.

Don’t accept impromptu tours from strangers. Be friendly and polite, but insist that they go through your agent. Some unscrupulous people use a home sale to gain access to a home, either to steal, visit violence on the home’s occupants or to scope the home out for a future burglary. Legitimate buyers will not have a big problem with going through your agent to see the property. If the person acts odd, insists that they ‘need’ to see the house immediately and/or gets violent or abusive, call the police.

Be extra vigilant when the For Sale sign is placed. Many criminals look for a home sale to check the house out for lack of security. Many people turn off their security alarms and leave things unlocked that are normally secured. If you surprise someone who doesn’t belong on or around your property, call the police. Security lights can be a relatively inexpensive install that will also be a selling point for your house. Trim your bushes back; not only will it improve the landscaping; it will also make hiding and sneaking harder.

Security systems, barking dogs, guns, baseball bats and pepper spray are some popular methods of home security, but unless you know how to control that barking dog (and make him shut up once intruders leave), handle a gun safely, or where and how to apply a baseball bat to someone’s head (keep in mind that unless it’s very clear that you were acting in self-defense, you could be liable), these items are more likely to harm you or your family than they are to protect you.

As much as we would like to trust everybody, it’s not a safe world. Taking precautions and encouraging your agent to do likewise is a smart home sales step. Your agent will appreciate your support and concern, you will be less likely to be victimized and your home will benefit from the extra attention.


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6 Tips for the Safe Realtor

Posted on 15 March 2008 by admin

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Kevin Bilberry asked:

In the haste to make a sale, many realtors have forgotten that their safety is more important than any amount of commission. Realtors have been robbed, beaten, raped and murdered while showing homes. The isolated nature of an empty house makes it easy for people to be assaulted without the neighbors knowing. Here are a few tips to make your safety a priority while still closing sales.

1. Take a self-defense course

Good self defense courses don’t generally teach you fancy moves to make someone wish they’d never touched you. The aim is to teach you to be more aware of your surroundings and more aware of your body and what it can do to protect you. Attitude is a big component of self-defense. Also, the course will teach you a few good strategies – holds, blocks and kicks that will get you free from someone’s grip and RUN. Don’t try to be a hero, just get away and out of the house.

2. Don’t take anything at face value

Murderers and rapists are most often not slavering creatures hiding behind bushes and in scuzzy alleyways. They can be well-dressed, have a wife, have a husband, have kids, prefer their tea with lemon. In short, they’re just as human as the non-rapist and can’t be distinguished by looks alone. Don’t trust someone just because they dress in an Armani suit. Do background checks and note their I.D. numbers, license plate numbers and other identifying characteristics.

3. Let someone know

Actually, let several someones know. Where you are going, who you’re going with and how long you plan to be. Leave information with your office, friends and family. Let the client know that other people know where you’ve gone and who with.

4. Take someone with you

Would you rather deal with the awkwardness of having someone there who is obviously there for safety or end up being taken advantage of in the worst possible way? Would you rather risk being alone with someone you don’t know in an isolated setting or delay a prospective sale long enough to get someone to go with you? If it makes you feel better, you can have them pretend that they’re a junior realtor coming along for experience or whatever – just bring someone with you.

5. Choose defensive instruments carefully

Pepper spray only works if it’s aimed in the right direction and has a directed stream. Some jurisdictions place limits on pepper spray possession and usage – be aware of your rights and responsibilities. A travel bottle of hairspray may also produce unpleasant sensations in the eyes of an attacker and it’s legal just about everywhere.

On guns: Many law enforcement personnel recommend against carrying a gun because of the liability and in some places, it’s illegal (Canada). If you decide to go this route, don’t just go out and get a gun; learn how to use, clean, carry, and store it safely. Also, learn the laws of your area concerning gun usage for self defense. If you don’t know how to handle a loaded weapon and when to use it, then you have no business carrying it around with you.

6. Trust your gut

It’s been said a million times before, but it’s still true. If something gives you a bad feeling, GET OUT. No sale is worth your life or your physical well being. Read Gavin de Becker’s “Gift of Fear” for more information on trusting your instincts. Sometimes it may play you false, but most people have a decently developed sense of what is right and what isn’t, even if their conscious mind isn’t aware of that fact.


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