Beware the “buyer” who arrives alone

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

It's not unusual for a buyer to view a home more than once before making a decision. However, sellers need to be aware that there are “buyers” who are far more interested in pinching the family silver than actually purchasing a home and who will use the “buying” excuse in order to gain access to a property.

In one recently reported case, the “buyer” initially visited the property with an estate agent. He then returned without the agent, saying that he needed to check out certain aspects of the home before he put in an offer to purchase. Once inside, he helped himself to valuables.

While it's a given that sellers have to let virtual strangers into their homes, this doesn't mean that they should throw caution to the wind by allowing just anyone into the property – even those who have been introduced by an estate agent.

We are not suggesting for a moment that there is anything suspicious about a buyer asking to take a second look around – it happens all the time. However, it's highly unlikely that an agent would agree to allow the buyer unsupervised access to a home, regardless of the circumstances.

Suspicious behaviour

On the other hand, the behaviour of a buyer who off his own bat returns a day or two later and asks to take another look at the home should be regarded as highly suspicious. He should not be allowed inside the property for a second time, regardless of the reasons given.

Time is money for agents and they generally vet all buyers to ensure that they can afford the property before they leave the office. However, mistakes do happen, lies are told and as such, there have been instances where a “buyer” is not what he seems at first blush.

Remember, we are not talking about a run of the mill thief here, we are talking about people who have mastered the art of deception and will go to any lengths to ensure that they look the part of a genuine buyer. Con artists are generally charming people and it's easy to understand how a seller could be duped into allowing a smooth talking crook into their home.

Here are a few pointers to help sellers protect their assets:

  • For Sale boards outside homes can attract the wrong sort. Under no circumstances should a seller allow anyone who was “just passing” into their homes. If someone wants to view the property, they must phone the agent concerned and set up an appointment.

  • Sellers are going to be handing a sizeable commission over to the agent who sells their home and as such, agents are more than willing to accompany a buyer to a property whenever necessary. All buyers, regardless of how many times they have viewed the home, should be accompanied by an estate agent on each and every visit.

  • Contact the agent immediately if a “buyer” attempts to view the home on his own. This type of action not only protects you as the seller, it also alerts the agent that something may be amiss and allows them to warn other sellers and agents that the “buyer” may not be on the level.

  • Sellers should always lock valuables away before allowing buyers into their homes. Not every potential buyer is a thief, but there does appear to be an increase in this sort of crime.

The days of allowing just anyone into your property are over. Keep your wits about you, regardless of the urgency of the sale, make sure you deal with a reputable estate agent and don't allow yourself to be sweet-talked into allowing the wrong sort inside your home.

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