Kathy Henne: Things to consider when selling a home yourself

The phone rings.

Seller: Hello?

Caller: Hi, is this the for sale by owner?

Seller: Yes, it is. How can I help you?

Caller: Can you tell me about your home?

Seller: Sure! There are 4 bedrooms, 2000 square feet, ranch style and the kitchen was recently updated.

Caller: What about the neighborhood? Is it good for children?

Seller: It sure is. We have a few ourselves and they have plenty of playmates in the neighborhood.

Caller: What about an alarm system?

Seller: Nope, never saw a need for one.

Caller: Sounds like a great house. Can I come by about 4:00 today to see it?

Seller: I can’t make that time. I work till 6:00. How about after then?

Caller: Sure, that sounds great. What is your address?

Seller: 1234 Main Street.

This seller just told a total stranger that he has no alarm system, he has kids, and due to work, someone might not be home until after 6:00 PM. Will it end up endangering the seller’s family? Could this be you?

Assume everyone poses a danger to you and your home. The caller may be a possible buyer for your home, but security measures are necessary for the possibility that someone could see your home as an opportunity for crime.

For sale by owners are particularly vulnerable because they often work alone, conducting open house events and accepting visitors to their home for a look around when they could be casing the place. Protecting your home, it’s valuables and yourself from harm should be one of your top concerns.

Once you put your home up for sale, never leave a message on your answering machine informing callers that you are not home. It’s better to have the message state that you are unavailable to answer the call at this time.

Be careful to not answer questions about security items associated with your home. Alarms, security systems on your windows, and pets are key questions undesirables will ask.

When questions about kids, parks, and schools arise, do not volunteer your family make up.

Never set an appointment with anyone to see your home unless you have their name and number and have called back to verify that number.

For security’s sake, before you conduct an open house, remember to remove keys, credit cards, jewelry, crystal, furs and other valuables from the home or lock them away during showings. Some seemingly honest people wouldn’t mind getting their hands on medicine in your medicine cabinet.

Request that all visitors sign in a guest book. You are giving away a lot of information about your home and you have the right to know who is getting that information. Explain to protesters that it’s a security measure. Certainly some visitors will use a false name, but at least they will be aware of your organized procedures and might think twice about victimizing you. If possible, jot down license plate numbers and ask for photo identification to verify the information in they write in the guest book.

Request that visitors enter and leave through one door only, except when you escort them to the back yard or garage. You should personally have quick and easy access to all your exits.

Without hovering, escort prospective buyers through you home by following them (never leading them) and keeping them in front of you and within sight at all times. Keep a reasonable distance between you and your visitor. Never enter a bedroom, den or other room with a visitor. You could be trapped inside. Keep your path clear for a speedy exit.

Never discuss your personal schedule or habits with strangers. Statements like “We are so near my office, I can leave home at 8:45 and arrive by 9:00” tell potential criminals when you aren’t home. Likewise, don’t discuss issues involving your home security including deadbolt locks.

Always tell a friend when you are conducting an open house or tour of your home. Have them check on you from time to time to make sure you are safe.

Carry a cell phone with you at all times with a single button programmed for a 911 call in case you feel threatened. It’s better to be safe than sorry.