Is FSBO safe?
Security is often raised as an issue in FSBO (For Sale By Owner) real estate sales. Some real estate agents try to scare homeowners into listing with them by claiming it is unsafe. Some homeowners are unsure how to safely display their property.
By taking some sensible precautions, there is no reason why selling your FSBO home should be less safe than selling through a real estate agent. In fact, selling FSBO should be more secure. There is nothing a real estate agent does to screen buyers that FSBO owners cannot do themselves.
What does a real estate agent do?
Real estate agents claim they screen potential buyers before visiting your property, but what does this mean? Does the real estate agent check if the buyer has a criminal record for violent crimes or theft? Of course not. In the best case, the agent can obtain the buyer’s name, address, and contact number prior to their visit.
Getting a contact number for buyers is easy, just ask when the buyer calls to inquire about viewing your property. Before the buyer visits, give them a call to confirm they are still coming. This allows you to confirm that the contact number is genuine and also reduces the likelihood of no-show.
FSBO ad contact details
It is advisable to limit the amount of information that you make available through online FSBO advertising. Some owners include their full name, phone numbers, email address, address of the property for sale, and hours they are home. While including this information is not enough to forge documents like a passport, it is enough to draw unwanted attention from trusted scammers.
A potential buyer only needs to know your name to make a courteous initial contact. You do not need to include your last name and titles in your FSBO ad.
Choose an online ad that protects your email address. There are programs that crawl the web for published email addresses. If you publish your email address in your FSBO ad, you are requesting to receive spam.
The best FSBO sites, such as http://www.smartvendor.com.au, have online messaging systems that allow buyers and sellers to communicate online while keeping email addresses private.
When selling your own home, a mobile (cell) phone is invaluable. Not only are homeowners less likely to miss a call from a potential buyer, but a potential thief cannot cold call the property to check if someone is home.
Open door inspections
We do not recommend holding an open house when selling your property. Open house inspections are difficult to supervise, and many buyers find viewing a property with many other buyers unproductive and frustrating.
Real estate agents use open houses as a way to get leads on other properties that are for sale. Often times, the real estate agent will stand in front of a house to make sure buyers receive the details from their agency. But once inside the property, buyers can roam unsupervised.
Potential thieves can use open door inspections to check security systems and protect property if left wandering unsupervised. Don’t provide too many details related to your home security system to a buyer on their initial visit.
Common sense rules
When visiting your property, follow these common sense rules:
Remove all valuables from the property. Take them off-site preferably in a safe deposit box. Do not put them in a drawer.
Make sure there are two people on the property at all times. Ask a friend or family member to join you. Only one of you needs to do the visualization.
Keep blinds and curtains open during visits, this allows people outside to see the property and will potentially deter someone from thinking of doing something wrong.
Showing your property after dark
Allowing buyers to approach visits without an appointment is not recommended, and especially not if the buyer requests an impromptu visit after dark. Politely explain that you are happy to show your home during daylight hours when the buyer can fully appreciate the wonderful features of your home. Offer a flyer or information sheet to take away.
FSBO may not be for you
FSBO is not for everyone. To sell your own home, you must be prepared to show potential buyers the property. If you are not comfortable doing this or feel that your circumstances would make you especially vulnerable, it would be wise to consider using a traditional real estate agent.