The media recently reported on an incident that took place in Rustenburg where an estate agent and two other women were robbed at gun point by criminals who came to view a show house posing as interested buyers.
According to the report these “buyers” – that consisted out of three women and two men - were neatly dressed, polite and arrived at the home in a Toyota Fortuner.
This incident once again placed the focus on estate agents and their safety while showing houses.
Estate agents can be soft targets and show houses that are not well regulated offer an opportunity for criminals to walk through the front door, but there are many things that estate agents and sellers can do to protect themselves and their property during a show house.
Gerhard van der Linde, Seeff’s MD in Pta East offers the following advice:
- It is extremely important that agents determine the authenticity of appointments with prospective buyers before meeting anyone. An agent should not take any client out to a property without first obtaining as many details as possible including a cell number which should be verified prior to the appointment.
- Agents should share their whereabouts with someone at their office. Someone should know where you are at all times.
- It is recommended that especially female estate agents undergo self defense classes.
- Ask the seller of the home for the property’s panic button while you are showing it.
- Ask sellers to lock away any valuables
- If the property is too big for one agent to show, the agent should get an assistant for that showing.
- Keep gates closed and buzz visitors in
- Agents are encouraged to spread the word to other agents and agencies if suspicious characters try to gain entry to their show houses.
- If necessary employ a security guard on show days.
- If an agent is uncomfortable showing a house to a potential buyer they should always take a colleague with them to the appointment.
Charles Vining, MD of Seeff Sandton, says they always advise sellers to put valuable items away before their home goes on show, as petty theft is often opportunistic.
“Our agents will also walk through the home before opening the show day and see if there is anything obviously valuable lying around and put it away.
If the property on show is not in a guarded complex or enclave, agents will often station a security guard at the entrance to the property. If your agent has not already arranged this it is certainly something to suggest”.
Steve van Wyk, MD of Seeff Centurion, says many of the estates and sectional title complexes in Centurion do not allow show houses as it poses a security risk.
He concludes that visitors to show days here need to write down their name, ID and contact number before entering the home and agents always walk through the property with visitors.