When I first started as a Realtor, things were very different. None of them are more different than home security. Forty years ago, we barely had lockboxes that safely keep keys at the house to make showings more secure and easier. Back then, maybe one out of 50 homes had burglar alarms. I remember my biggest fear with those alarms was setting them off accidentally because I input the wrong code. We would then just wait while the alarm wailed away for the police to arrive.
Today, home security has taken quantum leaps forward. First there are far more things that need secured, from the basic home to the “man cave garages” to the drugs in the medicine cabinet to the 60-inch TV. It seems that bad guys have their eyes on everything in your home and there is some sort of app to thwart them … and make showing a home that much more difficult.
Start with the basics. If you have a medicine chest full of prescription drugs, lock them up. During an open house, or a house party, stories are rampant of missing medicines. Same for watches, jewelry or any small thing your hold dear. Small safes are easily purchased at the home store for under $200 and are a simple way to stop all but the most hardened thief.
Many homes have security systems with cameras in them. These are great deterrents, are very inexpensive and can alert homeowners to thefts. They can also be watching and listening to you as you walk through a home to buy it. Like it or not, they are there.
So, I recommend that while touring a home, any home, know that someone may be watching you with everything from a baby monitor to an elaborate multicamera system. Not that I worry about a qualified buyer doing anything wrong, but clearly what buyers and their Realtor say during a home showing is intended to remain private, and with many security systems, they aren’t.
So what you should do during a home showing is to first understand that you are in someone else’s home. Whatever you say can and may be used by the seller to negotiate in their favor. So if you walk through a home with glee and excitement telling your Realtor just how perfect it is, how the decor is just right, and you think the price is fair, and the seller hears that? There goes your negotiating position.
My suggestion is simple. If you are a homeowner, secure your home. All of your valuables should be under lock and key 24/7. If you are a buyer, save your comments for outside the house and in the comfort of your car. Write them down and talk later. Do not take photos or movies without the seller’s consent. Times may have changed and Realtors understand that, but buyers and sellers need to understand it too.
Mink-Crouse is the 2018 president of the Warren Area Board of Realtors.