Kathryn's Blog

head_left_image

Beware of Squatters - Safety at Vacant Houses

In the past year, there have been a number of stories about real estate agents being attacked during showings.  Unfortunately, some of these have resulted in fatalities, and safety during showings has become a prominent topic.  Most of the articles I have read have warned against having your first meeting with a new customer at a vacant property, and recommended taking a buddy with you if you absolutely can not schedule a meeting in a public setting.

Last week, however, I had a conversation with another agent about a safety topic that I had not yet heard addressed:  squatters in vacant homes.  The agent I spoke with told the story that she had gone to check on one of her vacant listings.  When she went out to the barn that was on the property and unlocked the door, a man yelled, "Hey!"  The agent quickly left the property and called the sellers, who promptly contacted the local police.

Luckily, no harm came to my colleague, but it did get me thinking again of safety issues.  I'd like to share with you my list of tactics when working with vacant properties:

1.  If an unknown buyer insists on seeing a vacant property with short notice, do not go alone.  If you can not find a buddy to accompany you, offer alternative times to meet the buyer...in a public place. 

2.  When you meet a new potential client, write down the license plate on their vehilcle and make certain you have as much contact information as possible.

3.  Always let someone know where you are going when you have appointments.  Have your cell phone on you the whole time, and stay positioned near exits if you feel uneasy.

4.  As a listing agent for property that is vacant, advise your sellers to disconnect water and fuel sources.  Make sure they have a plan for having their mailbox checked on a regular basis, trash barrels put away, newspapers cancelled. 

5.  In a vacant home that is not staged, at the very least hang draperies on the first level and set up several lights on timers.

6.  Arrange with the sellers to have snow removed from the walkways and driveway, and to have the lawn cut on a regular basis.  Introduce yourself to neighbors and ask that they contact you and/or the sellers if they see any strange activity.

7.  If you have a vacant listing that you are going to check on, take a buddy with you.

8.  As a buyer's agent, always ask if a property is vacant, even if the photos on the MLS show the home to be furnished.  As a listing agent, always let buyer's agents know when a house is vacant.

9.  Make safety a topic that you address in your listing appointments, as well as your initial appointments with buyers.  Having it all covered up front will help eliminate grey areas and reduce the potential for incidents.

Be smart and stay safe!

Kathryn Acciari, Safety Lady

Putting Today's Technology Tools to Work for You

 

Text and photos copyright Kathryn J. Acciari unless otherwise noted. 
All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Sturbridge & Central MA Real Estate and More

 

 

kathryn acciari facebook twitter linkedin icon rss

 

Kathryn Acciari, REALTOR(R)
Serving Central Massachusetts
Sturbridge to Grafton

Cell: (508) 982-0686   
Email:
kasellshomes@gmail.com

Web site: kathrynacciari.com
Blog:
Real Estate Blog
Twitter: @kacciari

Comment balloon 5 commentsKathryn Acciari • February 23 2009 01:10PM
Beware of Squatters - Safety at Vacant Houses
share
In the past year, there have been a number of stories about real estate agents being attacked during showings. Unfortunately, some of these have resulted in fatalities, and safety during showings has become a prominent topic. Most of the articles… more
A Surefire Way to Make Certain Your Clients Hear from You Next January
share
A great tip I got from my broker when I started out in real estate was to send my closed clients of any given year a copy of their HUD Settlement Statement in January so they would have it on hand for their tax filing. Doing so fulfills… more
Money-Saving Idea: Discounted Restaurant Gift Certificates
share
Have you heard about restaurant. com? It is a web site where you can purchase gift certificates at discounted rates. Plug in a zip code, and a list of participating restaurants will appear. The most frequent discounts I have noticed are $3 for a.. more
Step-by-Step Instructions for Valentine's Day Client Gift
share
For those of you who enjoy Valentine's Day and want to share the love with your clients, here is an easy project for a gift to drop off at your clients' homes. I make these types of gifts for many of the smaller holidays, and they have been well… more
What a Difference a Toilet Seat Makes!
share
Here's a quck tip for a low-cost bathroom upgrade… My clients had put a lot of effort into upgrading the property they were selling. Everything looked great, but the bathrooms were lackluster. They had oak cabinetry with matching wood… more