Sunday, August 14, 2011

For Safety's Sake #4: Show and Tell

Well, that’s what we do, isn’t it? We show houses, and we tell prospective buyers about them.

What precautions should we take to see that it is a safe and productive showing?

If at all possible, and I know that many times it is not, drive by the property in advance of the showing to get a feeling of the neighborhood, see who’s around. Check out your choices of parking spots.

Park your vehicle facing out and in a position where you cannot be blocked.

Be sure you have: Your car keys, your phone, the showing folder, and a flashlight if there’s even a possibility you may need it. You do not want to be running back to the car for something and leaving people alone and unattended inside the house. Do not take your purse or wallet with you. Lock these in the car. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, do not wear lots of obviously expensive jewelry or carry large amounts of cash with you. Leave these at the office or at home. Fortunately, I guess, for most of us, this isn’t an issue.

When you unlock the door, step aside and allow the buyer to proceed into the house in front of you.

Do not allow the buyers to wander around and explore areas of the property where you cannot keep track of them. Explain, if asked, that for liability purposes, you must keep everyone together.

Be alert for curious questions concerning when the owners will be home, how often the property has been shown, and for anything you feel is of a personal, rather than of a business nature.

Make note of any issues with the house that the listing broker might need to be advised of such as broken windows or locks, frozen pipes, leaks, signs of recent occupancy in an otherwise empty house, or anything out of the ordinary that was not noted either on the disclosures or in conversation when the showing was scheduled.

Use caution when opening doors or windows. I suffered four broken fingers while demonstrating the convenience of tilt-out windows in a rural home a couple of years ago necessitating an agonizing 35 mile drive to the hospital in Bangor. There was a missing catch that could not be seen (to be missing), and its absence was probably unknown to both the seller and the listing broker. Be careful in assuming everything works properly just because it’s new!

Be aware that pets, which may be quite harmless in most situations, can be startled by “intruders” or become very territorial when you burst into their domain. Snakes in the basement aquarium may be beloved by their owner, but can give the unwary buyer quite a start when confronted unprepared.

To those who show foreclosed and abandoned property or property that has been unoccupied for some time, I advise special cautions.

Things will be broken, missing, frozen, unfinished, abused and downright scary.

Wear good shoes, stay alert and, as Elmer Fudd advises, “Be vewy, vewy careful.”

Take care.

Mary Kuykendall is a REALTOR with Coldwell Banker Heritage Real Estate in Bangor; and the 2011 Greater Bangor Association's REALTOR of the Year

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