Taking precautions when showing your home (and I know)

safety first
Creative Commons License photo credit: jontintinjordan

In a post long ago (Stardate September 23, 2006), I shared a few of the low-lights from my week that was.  This recent post by “Jim the Realtor” Klinge sent me on a trip down memory lane.

Anecdote Number 1 is a reminder of the potential implications of opening your home to total strangers and the need to take proper security precautions. Anecdote Number 2 is a bonus account of how one real estate agent (me) might have been somebody’s girlfriend or worse – a statistic – had she not been really cautious and even more lucky.

(Note: This blast from the past has been slightly edited to reflect modern-day grammar usage and to make sure that all the words are spelled right and stuff. My finely-honed attention to detail didn’t fully develop until sometime in 2009.)

Bottoms up! During a broker open house, listing agent meets a nice man who is thinking of moving into the area. They are having a nice chat in the living room when a group of agents wanders in, at which point he immediately breaks away and makes a beeline upstairs. Listing agent, being of the crime-fighting ilk, removes her stylish pumps, tip-toes to the master bathroom in stealth-sneak-up-on-you mode, and finds the nice man drinking the codeine cough syrup from the seller’s medicine cabinet. Nice man, now very startled, runs down the stairs while chased by a quite shoeless listing agent. Unable to get a license number, listing agent calls the police. The police refuse to take a report, because an open house is considered an “invitation” to visitors.

Lesson learned: Sellers, when your home is on the market, always remove your valuables and your prescription medications (the latter being considered quite valuable by drug addicts). And, kids (and listing agents), don’t try this on your own. Steve will yell at you.

Blind Date. Agent takes a call from a man very interested in seeing a listing. “No problem,” she chirps. “It is vacant and easy to show!” Very interested man already knew this, of course, because he had seen the pictures. Agent meets very interested man at the property, and man remarks that her picture in the ad is “really cute.” As they make their way into the home, very interested man becomes a whole lot less interested when he sees that the vacant home is not so vacant today; the carpet cleaners are in full swing. Man breaks the land speed record as he flies out the door and into his car. Guess he didn’t like the sense of entry.

Steve yells at me again.

Lesson learned:  Sellers, when your home is on the market, NEVER allow people unaccompanied by card-carrying agents into your home.  Even if these people are with someone who looks a lot like an agent, even someone you might recognize from the bus bench or the back of the shopping cart, make the agent open the lockbox so that your own agent has a record of the showing.

And to agents, always assume a defensive position when showing homes alone. Always be the one closest to the door, always have your cell phone poised in readiness, and always make sure that you have told someone where your are going and when you expect to return. While you really want to sell that house, you really don’t want to be dead – or worse. You definitely don’t want Steve yelling at you.


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