It's not a fun subject but it's definitely important in this day and age to be cautious when selling your home.
This article from INMAN news is an important read if you're planning on selling your home this year. It's written for Realtors and INMAN usually requires a subscription, but I'm sharing it here and paraphrasing some of the info because it gives such great advice.
The article begins with a typical scenario and then moves into the tips:
The doorbell rang.
The homeowner, a woman, opened it.
There stood a man and woman. The man said he was there to look at the house, which made sense because it was for sale. But their real estate agent had not yet shown up.
A locked screen door separated the couple from the homeowner.
The homeowner said, “OK, you can perhaps take a look outside while you’re waiting for your agent.”
The man replied, “We already did. We now would like to see the inside.”
The homeowner said, “Don’t you think you should wait for your agent? I’m sure she’ll be here any minute.”
The man looked at his watch. “She should’ve been here 10 minutes ago. Could you just let us in for a quick peek? Please?”
What harm could be done, right? But the homeowner said, “I don’t think so.” She noted that the man’s female companion seemed submissive to him.
Something wasn’t quite right.
The man and woman left.
Were they legit? Were they really waiting for their agent? Or were they robbers? We’ll never know.
But one thing’s for sure: The homeowner did the right thing and might’ve scared them off.
This could have gone another way. Maybe she lets them in, and they end up buying the house.
Or she lets them in, and she ends up a statistic.
Not all sellers have such wits about them, and many would have unthinkingly let the couple in, perhaps assuming that the presence of a female buyer means they’re harmless.
But how can a seller know for sure that a man and woman couple aren’t a pair of robbers or murderers?
Homeowners have been robbed, kidnapped and worse because of this exact same scenario.
Tips to help keep you safe when selling your home:
Always go through your Agent for correspondence with other Agents and interested Buyers.
Ads about your property that say “eager” or “motivated” seller can attract criminals. A sign in the front yard with this phrasing can result in a robber knocking on your door who claims to be looking for a family home just like yours.
Let your Agent arrange all appointments ahead of time and ask that he or she keep you fully informed of any potential buyers showing up to the property. Don't answer the door unless you're expecting guests or a package.
If you're buying a home as well as selling a home, be cautious on touring homes as well! If you arrive at a property first, wait for your Agent to arrive instead of ringing the doorbell.
Create a phone call plan. If the doorbell rings, you haven't heard from your Agent about buyers showing up, then do not answer the door (unless you have a peephole and trust the person). This plan eliminates the possibility of letting faux buyers in without an agent present.
Safety tips during a showing:
Sellers should put away valuables — even prescription drugs.
They should check all windows after the showing (a burglar might disable the bathroom window screen for later entry).
Make sure all locks still work.
Touchy-feely behavior from buyers should never be acceptable, even if it comes from a woman. She might have a male accomplice (who’s coming a little later) whom she will give feedback to regarding the seller’s reactions. If the seller’s reactions were nil or skittish, this tells the accomplice that the seller is an easy target.
Have pets secured so that they can’t nip at visitors.
Eliminate tripping hazards.
Put away blocks of knives.
To put it all in perspective, the chances of a client or an agent ever becoming the victim of a crime is minute. But, as we know — there is a chance.
This article was written by Robert Siciliano - CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com and a personal security and identity theft expert.Email Robert Siciliano.