Safety is often raised as an issue in for sale by owner (FSBO) real estate sales. Some real estate agents try to scare homeowners into listing with them by claiming that is unsafe. Some homeowners are unsure how to show their property safely.
By taking a few sensible precautions there is no reason why selling your home FSBO (also known as private sale) should be any less safe than selling through a real estate agent. In fact selling FSBO should be safer. There is nothing that a real estate agent does to vet buyers that FSBO homeowners cannot do for themselves.
What does a real estate agent do ?
Real estate agents claim that they vet prospective buyers before they visit your property but what does this mean ? Does the real estate agent check whether the buyer has a criminal record for violent crimes or theft ? Of course they don’t. At best, the agent may get a name, address and contact number of the buyer before they visit.
Getting a contact number for buyers is easy, just ask when the buyer calls to enquire about viewing your property. Before the buyer visits call them back to confirm that they are still coming. This lets you confirm that the contact number is genuine and also reduces the likelihood of no-shows.
FSBO advert contact details
It is advisable to limit the amount of information that you make available through online FSBO advertising. Some homeowners include their full name, telephone numbers, e-mail address, street address of the property for sale and times when they are at home. Whilst including this information is not enough to forge documents such as a passport it is enough to gain unwanted attention from confidence tricksters.
A potential buyer only needs to know your first name to make polite initial contact. There is no need to include your surname and titles in your FSBO advert.
Choose an online advert that protects your email address. There are programs that trawl the web looking for published email addresses. If you post your email address in your FSBO advert you are asking to receive spam.
The better FSBO sites have online messaging systems that allow buyers and sellers to communicate online while keeping email addresses private.
When selling your own home a mobile phone is invaluable. Not only are homeowners less likely to miss a call from a potential buyer but also a potential thief cannot cold call the property to check whether anybody is home.
Open house inspections
We don’t recommend holding an open house viewing when selling your property. Open house inspections are hard to supervise and many buyers find viewing a property with lots of other buyers unproductive and frustrating.
Real estate agents use open houses as a way of getting leads about other properties that are for sale. Often the real estate agent will stand at the front of a house to make sure buyers receive details of their agency. But once inside the property buyers are allowed to roam around unsupervised.
Potential thieves can use open house inspections to check out security systems and case the properties if left to roam unsupervised. Don’t provide too much detail relating to your home’s security system to a buyer on their initial visit.
Common sense rules
When you are holding viewings of your property follow these common sense rules:
Remove all valuables from the property. Take them off site preferably in a safe deposit box. Don’t just put them in a drawer.
Make sure there are two people in the property at all times. Ask a friend or family member to accompany you. Only one of you need conduct the viewing.
Keep blinds and curtains open during viewings this allows people outside to see in to the property and will potentially deter somebody thinking of getting up to no good.
Showing your property after dark
Allowing buyers to drop in for viewings without a prior appointment is not recommend and especially not if the buyer is requesting an impromptu viewing after dark. Politely explain that you’re happy to show your home during daylight hours, when the buyer can fully appreciate your home’s wonderful features. Offer a flyer or information sheet to take away.
FSBO may not be for you
FSBO is not for everybody. In order to sell your own home you must be prepared to show potential buyers around the property. If you are uncomfortable doing this or feel that your circumstances would make you especially vulnerable it would be wise to consider using a traditional real estate agent.