Monday, July 16, 2007

For Sale sign can be a target: Open House thieves to be sentenced next month

Safety is an issue we take very seriously with our clients. When you put a For Sale sign in your yard, you're letting the world know that you're selling your house. You're also letting the world of bad guys (and girls) know that you might be in a position where you'll let your guard down; after all, how many other times have you let random strangers into your home? To highlight this point, here is an article from AZCentral.com highlighting a couple who were arrested for stealing from open houses. But open houses aren't the only entry point for would-be bad guys – here is some of the advice we give our clients:

Hide the valuables. This one's obvious, but worth mentioning. The easier something is to steal, the more likely it is to be stolen. Don't leave your cash & expensive jewelry in an obvious place. Same goes for that autographed Mickey Mantle rookie card (your office/game room will look just as good to buyers if you replace it with a Brandon Webb or Steve Nash card. Your best bet would be to move your valuables off-site if at all possible.

Hide the weapons. Just like your valuables, this is probably not a good time to keep your hunting rifles in the closet. The odds of something bad happening are infinitely small, but the outcome could be so horrific that it isn't worth the risk.

Don't let strangers in. Someone knocks on your door and says they'd like to see the house as they might be interested in buying it. Your answer should be: "My realtor's phone number is on the sign; he can tell you all about it and meet you here to show you the home in person." Plain as day. If this person is remotely interested in your home, he/she will call me. If they had other ideas, you don't even want to imaging what could have happened...

Don't let strangers in, part 2. Three people knock on your door, a young couple and their "Realtor", and ask to see the home. The realtor even gives you his card. Your answer should be: "Give me five minutes to get a couple of things and get out of the way, and then you can use the lockbox to let yourself in." If they're legit, they'll respect your wishes and use the lockbox. If they had other plans, you just did a very smart thing.

Open Houses. This can be a useful marketing tool, but it can also invite bad guys into your home. As the above article showed, a realtor cannot be everywhere at once, so multiple people could enter your home and split up, making themselves hard to track. Talk to your realtor about this one – how we handle open houses depends a little bit on the situation: what's the current market like? how desirable is the home & neighborhood? how convenient is it for our seller to get out of the house? can we have two team members work it together?

Selling your home can be a stressful process, but planning ahead and thinking about everything before it happens can help you be prepared for it. Listen to your realtor's advice, and ask lots of questions. We want to make your selling experience as enjoyable as possible.

- Chris Butterworth