Once you put your property in the market, it is not likely that the first person that indicates interest to buy would pay for it, definitely, several people would come for its inspection, even when you are still living in it. So prepare before hand to prevent any security risk
– By Ranti Adedeji
Property inspection is a daily routine in real estate and no professional would be considered as having worth his salt if he is not keen at property inspection on daily basis. Most often, houses being offered for sales are still being occupied by the owner or tenants. This exposes occupants to security risks since not all those who are interested in the inspection are doing so with the sole objective of buying; some have ulterior motives. For owners who are occupying houses placed in the market; the following steps would be necessary to safeguard yourself and valuables:
Prepare a questionnaire for every prospective buyer to fill indicating their names; office/residential address; occupation; phone numbers and emails; referees; date of inspection and other verifiable details that can reveal their true identity. If you have an agent, he must keep a copy of the form filled by everyone interested in the property. Agents and property owners would normally become suspicious of buyers who are not willing to disclose their identity. Even if he is representing a buyer, there is a need to keep a record of his details for future reference.
Get a lawyer or an agent
If you advertise the property in the print, social or electronic media, there is every possibility that interested buyers would contact you on regular basis, at least to get further details from you. Before you schedule any inspection with them, refer them to your lawyer. However, if you do not have a lawyer or an agent, do not schedule them for an inspection at the first contact. Have them fill the questionnaire first, and then arrange an inspection for a later date when you will be accompanied. Never carry-out any inspection without being accompanied by your lawyer, agent or other member of the family or friend.
Join the inspection team
At every inspection, make sure that you accompany the inspection team and be cautious of any suspicious move. What do you think would be the response of any member of the inspection team if you inform them that the inspection is being captured by a hidden camera? Even, if you do not plant any camera, their response could reveal some security clues that could reveal any ulterior motive.
Limit the Inspection
Limit the inspection to the premises and some other selected part of the house since the main purpose of the inspection is to confirm the pictures of the building displayed in your advert or website. External views should be able to convince prospective buyers about the size and state of the property. However, where it is compulsory to inspect the inner parts, limit it to the bathroom, kitchen, sitting-room and other unoccupied room.
Since it not likely that you will be able to sell the house after only one inspection, but would be conducting several inspections, there is need to avoid ostentatious display of materials that could attract pilfering or give hints to burglars. Box of jewelries, phones, wrist watches, cash and other expensive but handy items, should be locked-up properly in a room during property inspection.
Make the drawings available
To reduce the stress of identifying the sizes of various compartments in the house, make a photocopy of the building plan and make it available for sighting by every inspection team. With this, you will be able to curb entrance to occupied areas of the building, in a bid to cross-check the sizes.
Where possible, do not display any “For Sale” board on the house. This would help to ward-off ordinary passersby who just want to inspect the house for the fun of it and possibly with a hidden agenda. And, where you cannot but have the board hanging on the building, talk to the prospective buyer on the phone or through email, but never agree if he makes a request for instant inspection. It might be a ploy to commit crime. You can also leave the questionnaire at the gate for any intending passersby; you can assess their seriousness or otherwise if they are agree to fill the form. Even when they have done this, you still need to schedule the inspection.
Avoid Phone calls
During inspections, avoid phone call that can reveal personal information as visitors with a hidden agenda might find this very useful for their nefarious plans. You can let the caller know that you are in a brief meeting and will call him later. Although, visitors may pretend that they are not listening to you phone conversation, but if they have clandestine intention, you will be surprised that they will capitalize on the information elicited from your phone discussions.
On a final note, you may not have to be suspicious of people that are indicating interest in your property, because majority of them are actually intending buyers or agents. They demand all courtesies at your disposal; but at the same time you need to be on the alert for possible bad eggs who may parade themselves as genuine buyers in order to perpetuate their furtive actions.