Ask anyone and they will tell you that in most cases, selling a home involves a roller coaster ride of emotions. Aside from the obvious feelings such as the discomfort of having numerous people invading the seller’s privacy by traipsing through their home, there are security issues that should always be considered before placing the home on the market.
South Africa has high levels of crime and it would be fair to say that allowing strangers into your home can lead to problems. There are ways, however, of ensuring that your belongings remain safe and sound when buyers come to view.
Criminals come in all shapes and sizes and although it is common to make assumptions that certain people are more trustworthy than others, it is always wise lock away valuable objects before either putting the property on show or inviting buyers into the home.
These days, most agents are very aware of the dangers associated with allowing too many buyers into a property at once and most, if not all, will keep a register of who has visited the home on a show day. Unfortunately, criminals are unlikely to provide their real names and contact details and this record keeping method is unlikely to deter those who are more interested in the valuables in a home than in the property itself. That said, however, the days of agents allowing groups of buyers to wander around the property at will are virtually over and most will keep a close eye on viewers and will supervise the goings-on when a house is put on show.
Sellers may assume that the agent marketing and showing the home has a legal responsibility to ensure that nothing is stolen in the owner’s absence. However, according to Marlon Shevelew, the founding partner from Marlon Shevelew and Associates, the Estate Agency Affairs Act appears to be silent on this issue and he says that that there is good reason for this. “The property owner will always bear the responsibility of opening their home up to the general public and it could never be envisaged that an agent could or would assume such a task of being the guardian of any items of value in the property. It’s for this reason that house contents are insured and it would be incumbent on the property owner to ensure that anything of value is kept out of sight when opening one’s house for a show day.”
For this reason - and to help homeowners avoid becoming a statistic when selling a property - it is always advisable to view the contents of a home with a critical eye and lock away anything that could appeal to criminals.
Remove all valuables and lock them away securely - particularly smaller items which can be slipped unseen into a pocket or handbag. Video cameras, cameras, jewellery, expensive ornaments and the like should be removed from view and placed in a locked cupboard or safe. Putting something away in a drawer, assuming that it is safe because it is out of sight is never recommended as there are those who will open drawers and cupboards when visiting the show house.
Putting your house on show is still one of the most effective ways of selling your property. Keep your wits about you and the experience could well prove beneficial to all concerned. Don’t, and you just may be putting in an insurance claim.