Staying Safe While Selling Your House

Mike Cooke December 1, 2016 Seller Insights

You hired us to market your property and have authorized us to use any promotional methods we deem appropriate. At a minimum, we use the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), numerous web sites, other electronic information services, property brochures and a yard sign to help find a buyer for your house.

You have also authorized us to use a lockbox to provide access to your home to other agents, appraisers, inspectors and others and we generally will not be present when these people are in your house.

All of these items provide many benefits for you but they also create some potential risks.

BENEFITS:

The main benefits are that you get a better price for your house and you get your property sold in a shorter period of time.

With the lock box in place, we get more showings because we make it easier for buyers and agents to  see your house at times that are convenient for them. It also makes it more likely that we will catch the most motivated buyers — those buyers who are in a hurry and who tend to make better offers at higher prices. Furthermore, the lock box allows buyers to see your property under optimal conditions. Without us present and with an agent they trust, buyers are less defensive and more open to truly seeing your house in its best light. By improving both the quantity and quality of showings, the lock box is a powerful weapon in our battle to get you the best price for your house.

A yard sign is a pretty simple device. Somewhere between 15% and 20% of buyers first learn about the house they buy via the yard sign. Even though most buyers are working with a real estate agent, they still do some looking on their own. After they get focused on a particular geographic area, they drive the neighborhoods and spot yard signs and call their agents with a list of houses that they want to see.

The internet has become a wonderful marketing tool and having lots pictures of the interior and exterior of your home increases the effectiveness of this tool. Your house is seen by more buyers and it gets sold quicker.

RISKS:

On the other hand, there are risks created with the use of each of these items and these risks include accidental damage, theft, bodily harm, and/or being the subject of insurance claims or lawsuits. Here are some examples of problems that have been known to occur:

  1. A criminal might knock on your door after seeing the yard sign and pose as a potential buyer and ask to see your house. A criminal knows he is more likely to be allowed into a home that is for sale than one that is not for sale.
  2. Criminals might use information and pictures on the MLS and the internet to case your house for a burglary. Pictures might make you a more likely target for theft.
  3. The lockbox combination, after having been obtained legitimately by an agent, might fall into the hands of a buyer or a criminal who is posing as a buyer. The agent has to write the combination down somewhere and a dishonest buyer or a crook could easily get a look at the combination while the agent is distracted in some way. The dishonest buyer/criminal may later use the lockbox to gain access to your home.
  4. A dishonest buyer might take something while looking at your house — he might put a ring or some of your money in his pocket without his agent seeing him do it.
  5. A dishonest agent could get a lockbox combination legitimately and then steal things from your home.
  6. A legitimate agent or buyer might accidentally break something while touring your home.
  7. A legitimate agent or buyer might get injured while in your house and file an insurance claim or a lawsuit.
  8. If we hold any open houses, you face similar risks due to damage or theft. More than one potential buyer may be present in your house at the same time and we cannot be physically present with all visitors at all times.

Have we scared you to death? These problems are rare. One agent in our office with 25 years of experience as a real estate agent reports that he has had only one problem and that was the theft of a prescription pain killer from the house of one of his sellers.

Although problems are rare, we think it is important to be aware of these risks so that you can take reasonable and customary precautions.  Risk reduction strategies include:

  1. Do not allow anyone into your house unless your agent, our office or Centralized Showing Service has notified you that this party has arranged a showing.
  2. Take the key out of the lockbox when you are at home.
  3. Hide small, valuable items like jewelry and money that might be tempting targets for theft.
  4. Pack up fragile items that have monetary or sentimental value so that they are not accidentally broken.
  5. Make sure there are no hazardous conditions on your property — shovel the snow, put out warning cones about ice, keep the floors clean, etc. — to minimize the chance of someone being hurt accidentally.

Making sure you are as informed as possible about all aspects of selling a house is high on our list of priorities.

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