Selling your home is an exciting endeavor. In most places, the real estate market is pretty crazy right now so there’s no time like the present to make a move. Between picking up the clutter to make a great first impression to deciding what the list price should be, there will be a lot going on when you first decide to sell. Whether you’re planning to sell your home on your own or enlist the help of a licensed real estate agent, there are a few things you need to keep an eye out for to make sure everyone stays safe and you’re protected from potential lawsuits or losses.
One of the first things to do before allowing any potential buyers to view your home is to do a safety sweep. If you home has some “quirks” that you typically warn new visitors about– think slanted stairs, uneven sidewalks, or anything else. Keep in mind that just because you’re used the quirks of your home, doesn’t mean everyone is. If you can mitigate these issues, fill cracks in walkways with sand, use small rugs over uneven floorboards, that can help to reduce potential risks, but keep in mind that these are things that will come up on a home inspection so it may be worthwhile to have certain issues fixed before listing.
One of the easiest ways to make sure everyone stays safe while viewing your home is to make sure there is adequate lighting. Replace all burnt out lightbulbs on the interior and exterior of the home. Rooms that are empty and without overhead lighting should have the window treatments open to allow in all natural light possible and additional lighting should be added if possible.
If your home will be vacant when you are showing it to sell, you’ll also have to keep new obstacles in mind. A low-hanging light fixture might be stylish and fitting when there’s a dining room table under it, but without the table for context it could be just waiting for someone to bump their head. If you haven’t lived in the property for awhile it’s a good idea to show up to the home with enough time to do a quick inspection before anyone else arrives.
Depending where your home is located and when you decide to sell, you may also have to consider weather hazards. In places that experience cold winters, look out for large icicles that can fall or slippery patches that can form on driveways or sidewalks. If you live in a climate where you sometimes gets some creepy-crawly or slithery visitors, make sure to check your entrance way before prospective buyers are scheduled to come.
If you’re planning to advertise your home online using photos, it’s a good idea to remove any clutter or valuable items from the space before taking pictures. These items distract buyers and focus the attention on your belongings instead of your home, but also make you an easy target for anyone using these photos to “scope out” homes for more nefarious reasons.
When getting ready to show your home (or have an agent show your home), you’ll want to lock away all valuables, weapons, and prescriptions. You’ll also want to keep any mail, bills, or other personal documents out of sight as these items can be used in identity fraud. While most people who view homes are legitimately interested, people have been burned by leaving these seemingly innocent items in plain view.
On the same note, don’t tell anyone looking at your home too much information. While small talk is good and helps to break the ice, be wary of anyone asking questions about schedule and routines. Questions such as what time you go to work or whether you go away on the weekends could be innocent or they trying to figure out when you won’t be home.
One of the most important safety tips, whether agent or homeowner, is to make sure someone else knows that the showing is happening. If you’re an agent, meet prospective buyers beforehand at your office just to be safe, while for sale by owner (FSBO) sellers should have a spouse, friend, someone else with them at the home just to be safe. It’s also a good idea to collect visitor information by copying their name, address, driver’s license number, and license plate information and share it over the phone with someone offsite (let the visitor hear you do this), especially if you’re planning to show the home alone. This may seem like an overly cautious move, but it is really better to cover all possibilities.
You’re now ready to safely show your home for sale. Looking for more great tips on home selling? Check out 5 Psychology Tricks to Use When Selling Your Home and Take It or Leave It: What You Need to Know about Real Estate Fixtures.