As Safe as (Show) Houses

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

Show houses are not just for nosey neighbours who want to get a peek inside your most precious asset; they offer buyers an ideal opportunity to wander around a home, truly getting a feel for the place and it is an effective marketing strategy that really works.

In certain areas of the country, viewing show houses on a Sunday morning has become a national pastime. ‘On show’ boards literally litter the pavements of suburbia as agents vie to exhibit the property to as many people as possible – in the shortest possible time. The concept is not strictly a South African one, and although the model has proven time and time again that it is an effective marketing tool – local conditions do need to be considered.

Crime is not exclusive to South Africa and as a Los Angeles Times report, written earlier this year indicates, that despite the benefits of putting a house on show more often than not outweigh the detrimental aspects, homeowners need to be aware of the dangers as crime is on the increase.

Once again it appears that using a reputable agent to market your home is key. Vetting potential buyers before they allow them into your home is absolutely vital. Once inside, buyers should never be left to their own devices, wandering around unaccompanied. This becomes even more important on busy show days with the number of possible viewers overwhelming the agent in attendance. A register recording the names, cell phones and even the addresses of every person viewing the property is mandatory. An agent should also never allow too many people into the property at the same time. It is also not a particularly good idea for agents to show houses alone as this can put their own lives in danger, and allow a situation to get rapidly out of control.

Sellers need to ask the agent what procedures they follow, how they control the number of buyers entering the home and what precautions are taken. Allowing potential buyer’s free rein to wander in and out of the property at will is taboo and sellers need to ascertain that adequate steps will be taken to keep their property and its contents as safe as possible.

Having a couple of valuables lifted by unscrupulous viewers is one thing, fearing that your home is being cased by criminals intent on returning to burgle is quite another. Crooks come in all shapes and sizes and trying to figure out who is the ‘real deal’ and who is looking for a ‘real steal’ can be difficult.

The experts recommend that sellers and their agents learn to trust their instincts. If a person makes you feel uneasy or uncomfortable – be on your guard. This rule applies in all situations regardless of whether the house is on show or not. For sale signs highlight that the property is on the market and they may also attract criminals. Sellers should never open their doors to strangers and allow them to inspect the house when they are alone. Those, ‘who were just in the neighbourhood’, must be referred to your agent that you have employed to do the job of selling your home.

Prospective buyers should be qualified by the agent long before they view any property. Although they may not be on first name basis, the agent will have a thorough idea of who the person is, what they do for a living and whether or not they can afford the property. Buying a property is not the same as shopping in a grocery store and anyone who understands the process also understands that you don’t pop in unannounced to view a house unless it is on show.

Millions of people have sold property successfully via show houses and with the aid of ‘for sale’ signs without any bad experiences. Unfortunately we do have high crime levels in this country and keeping your wits about you, following a few simple rules and precautions will help ensure that you don’t become another statistic.

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