September is Realtor Safety month, a time when Realtors are reminded about the importance of personal safety on the job. On a daily basis, Realtors encounter strangers as part of their job duties and with these duties come risks for which they should be prepared in order to remain safe as they go about their work.
In addition to protecting themselves from potential dangers, Realtors are also focused on the protection of their clients. There are few times when you would consider opening your door to allow a stranger to study every detail of your home, but selling your home requires just that. By following some simple guidelines, however, you can rest at ease knowing your family and your personal property are safe during the home selling process.
▪ Hide or remove valuables.
As you prepare to put your home on the market, your agent will likely suggest ways to make your home most appealing to potential buyers, such as decluttering your living spaces, organizing closets and limiting personal items and photos.
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During this process, also consider removing or locking away jewelry, small electronics and other valuables to avoid any danger or theft during showings or open houses. You may also request that your listing Realtor do their best to avoid showing valuables when taking listing photos to be posted online, including expensive electronics, antiques and valuable art that might attract someone with poor intentions to target your home.
▪ Don’t forget about those everyday items.
From that stack of bills on the table to the spare keys on the hook by the door, seemingly boring items to you and I can be very appealing to someone who might be looking for an opportunity to do harm. Your bills and other paperwork can include personal information that can aid criminals. Don’t forget about the lure of the medicine cabinet … consider hiding all prescription drugs to eliminate the temptation.
▪ Let your Realtor arrange showings.
You are enjoying a cup of coffee on Saturday morning when you hear a knock at the front door. A sweet looking couple has seen the For Sale sign in your yard and would love to take a peek before heading out of town. Tempting? What if you open the door and learn that the visitor is a real estate agent with a shiny business card to prove it? The answer to both should be no.
No matter how innocent or convincing they are, you should always deny any request for showings without your listing Realtor’s prior knowledge. Refer all inquiries and requests for showings to your Realtor and notify your Realtor promptly about any unexpected visits from strangers.
▪ Lock your doors and windows.
After your home has been shown, take a few moments to walk through the house and check that all doors and windows are locked. Realtors will be keeping a close eye on visitors to your home, but criminals can be sneaky, so it never hurts to double check that your home is secure and that no doors or windows have inadvertently or purposely been left unlocked.
Remember, the lockbox will provide entry to other agents for approved showings, so there should never be a need to leave your doors unlocked to provide an entry point. Inform your Realtor immediately if you are contacted and asked to leave your door unlocked for a showing, inspection or other purpose.
▪ Your Realtor is your best defense.
Remember, your first line of defense is your listing Realtor who has specialized knowledge and training in facets of real estate sales, including best practices for safety. If you are considering selling your home and need a professional Realtor to help navigate the sales process you can visit www.KCRealtorLink.com to find a Realtor to fit your needs.
Dan O’Neill, MGRI, is 2015 president of the Kansas City Regional Association of Realtors.