September was Realtor Safety Month. During the month we received several reports of members feeling “uncomfortable” with prospects and classes at the Association office on how to be prepared for dangerous encounters.
There are plenty of creeps out there and some are dangerous. Less dangerous than a murderer or rapist there are other deviants who’s behaviors may escalate into something more threatening than our latest reported creep. Recently we had a report of a suspicious person attending open houses. This man would slip off alone — upstairs in the reported incident — only to re-appear seemingly flushed and then to depart the property with little fanfare. Later it would be reported that some ladies’ undergarments were missing. As always with suspicious activities, our members received an email message from the attentive staff at the Coeur d’Alene Association of Realtors to be especially vigilant.
Short of these infrequent alert messages, perhaps we become too complacent when showing property to complete strangers. If you are selling your own real estate, you too put yourself at risk whenever a stranger comes to see your property. Meeting strangers though is not the only risk when attempting to sell a home. Realtors and citizens need to keep their guard up to stay safe.
Realtors know that when they leave the office they need to tell someone where they will be going and when they expect to return. Some offices arrange for a safety check by phone or text message if their agents expect to be showing properties for an extended period or are gone longer than anticipated. Others require some form of photo identification from walk-in customers. Sellers usually do not have the same options, but can certainly tell a friend, neighbor or family member that they will be accepting a stranger into their home and how long that visit should last.
You should never advertise a home as “vacant” or “move in ready.” Stories of burglaries abound and our local police reports reveal missing appliances, wiring or other fixtures that can easily be exchanged for drugs or money. Ask any contractor and they probably have a story or two of lost equipment or stolen fixtures from a construction site.
When you are lucky enough to attract a potential buyer, you undoubtedly set about tidying up prior to their arrival. As part of this effort, valuable personal effects, prescription drugs and heirlooms should be securely tucked away. Prescription drugs are also favorite prey for criminals who may be attending open houses. No one can be sure that the prospective buyer is not also a prospective burglar responding to an advertisement as a way to explore opportunities to exploit the seller.
In this day and age, most people lock their homes, but do you? How about the windows? Many folks like to sleep with their windows open and close them in the daytime without remembering to lock them. An unlocked window is second best to a would-be thief when looking for easy access. Even a locked door can be jimmied open. Sliding doors are often easy targets. Sliding doors can be made more secure with a simple track lock from your local hardware store or even by placing a stick in the slider track to prevent it from sliding open, even if the lock has been tampered with. Through the track type locks are better since they prevent the door from being lifted from the track.
We do not want to make anyone paranoid. If you remain vigilant there is no reason to be.
Trust an expert…call a Realtor. Call your Realtor or visit www.cdarealtors.com to search properties on the Multiple Listing Service or to find a Realtor member who will represent your best interests.
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Kim Cooper is a real estate broker and the spokesman for the Coeur d’Alene Association of Realtors. Kim and the association invite your feedback and input for this column. You may contact them by writing to the Coeur d’Alene Association of Realtors, 409 W. Neider, Coeur d’Alene, ID 83815 or by calling (208) 667-0664.