September 2016 Article

Keeping Your Seller's Home Safe
By Jim Luger, CDEI
Certified Distance Education Instructor 

Have a frank discussion with your sellers about safety precautions they should take while their house is on the market. I asked Ruth Tice, a staging and listing preparation expert for Continuing Ed Express, about safety advice she gives to her sellers. Here are some of her tips:
  • Protect your seller’s property by using a secure lockbox. Use an electronic lockbox if available from your local REALTOR® association. If you use a combination lockbox, periodically change the combination to something unique. When opening a combination lockbox, make sure you are between the buyer and lockbox so they cannot see the combination.

  • Remind sellers to remove keys, credit cards, jewelry, and other small valuables from their home; or, at a minimum, lock them away during showings. Even though buyers will be with an agent during showings, they sometimes separate and wander off to different areas of the house.

  • Tell sellers not to leave personal information, mail, or bills out in the open where anyone can see it. Unscrupulous visitors might be looking for financial information or credit card numbers.

  • Prescription drugs should be removed from medicine cabinets and locked away during all showings and open houses. There have been reports of drugs being stolen from homes during showings or open houses. Pain killers are one of the main targets.

  • Many sellers keep a shelf or rack for keys near one of the doors. Advise them to remove or hide all keys while their home is being shown.

  • Remind your sellers that some buyers may bring small children with them when they look at the home. Even though agents might try to monitor the little ones, and most parents do their best to keep children in control, kids can become restless. Tell your sellers to put away fragile or easily breakable items to avoid an accident.

  • Sellers should check to make sure all windows and doors are securely locked when they return home after showings. A dishonest buyer could, while out of sight of their agent, leave an exit or window unlocked for a burglary attempt later.

  • When showing properties, don’t become distracted by your buyers. Check that all doors are locked when you leave, in case a buyer opened one and failed to relock it.

  • Advise sellers to check with their insurance policy to be sure that they have adequate coverage for theft or vandalism, and for personal injury to someone viewing their property.

  • Go through the home with your sellers and look for safety hazards, such as rugs that one could easily trip over, sharp objects that could be dangerous to small children, or light bulbs in dark areas that have burned out. Advise your sellers to leave lights on throughout the home for every showing. Not only does it help keep visitors safe, it makes their home show better.

  • Make sure all doors are locked and the keys are safely back in the lock box when you leave after showing the home or holding an open house.

In summary, it’s important to remind your sellers that they will be opening and exposing their home to the public and, while there is no need to be paranoid, it’s wise to take some common sense steps to protect themselves. 

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