Watch out for criminals posing as home buyers
Category General News
Here's the situation: You've placed your home on the market and haven't received any interest. As the cobwebs collect on your 'For Sale' sign, you're thinking about taking matters into your own hands. An open house can help show interested buyers what your beautiful home offers, right? Sure, but before you roll out that welcome mat, know this potential pitfall.
Beware the stranger danger
There's been a rise in criminals attending open houses. In a recent incident, an East Rand homeowner was approached by three potential buyers. As she showed one the property, the others quietly ransacked her home. It was only when they left, she realised they had taken three laptops.
Don't become a victim of crime. With the right measures, you can keep yourself and your home safe.
Open house safety 101
Before your open house
- Buddy up: Tell a friend or family member to call or check on you every hour. You should also give your neighbour the heads up. They can help keep tabs on any suspicious activity that may happen on your property.
- Get camera happy: Take photos of all the rooms so you have a reference when your visitors have left. This can help to pinpoint stolen or damaged items.
- Beef up your security: Besides enhancing your property value, good security will keep you safe during an open house. Consider the best in alarm systems, cameras, and even hire a security guard.
- Secure your valuables: Take time to lock away electronics, expensive clothing, sensitive documents and firearms. You should also put away prescription medication, alcohol and family photographs.
- Insure your home: Be proactive and get an insurance policy for property damage and injuries. It's better to be safe than sorry!
- Charge your cell phone: It's a simple step but it could be life-changing. If you feel uncomfortable during the open house, you may need to call for help. Also check that you have a good signal strength.
- Plan your showing time: You'll want to do your showing before it gets dark. Not only does it create a better impression but it can keep you safe. The darkness brings with it a bigger risk for an incident. You should also draw back blinds and curtains and switch on lights where necessary.
During your open house
- Ask for identity: When each visitor pops in, you should record their identification and contact details. If there's an incident, it will help you follow up with the police. The details you can request include their name, cell phone number, address and email. You should also take a picture of their driver's license and car number plate.
- Walk behind the buyer: This will help you keep track of the individual at all times. It will also help you better direct their attention to property highlights during the showing.
- Avoid small spaces: Attics, cupboards and basements are dangerous places to enter - especially if you're showing alone. These are hotspots for criminals to trap you before raiding your home.
- Be discreet: Friendly chatter is fine. However, try not to reveal any personal information that could be used against you. This includes your family's routine, vacation plans and your marital status.
- Trust your instincts: If the potential buyer raises red flags, don't be afraid to end the showing. You can lose a sale but you only have one life.
After your open house
- Check the property: Do a quick look-over for missing or damaged items. You should contact the police immediately if you've verified something is amiss.
- Lock up: If you're leaving the property after the open house, ensure all windows and doors are secure. It's not uncommon for houses to be broken into after the showing.
- Update your buddy: Once the open house is over, let your family member or friend know you're safe.
By seeking the services of a professional real estate agent, you can take away the hassles of open houses. At Century 21, we vet potential buyers and ensure the safety of you and your property during a showing. Contact our Kempton Park team to list your property today.
Author: Century 21