Identity theft is big business. With an estimated 100,000 people each year affected by identity theft in the U.K. many people are becoming increasingly aware of the dangers. People shred their credit card bills, but do they think about the possible dangers of having viewings on their properties for sale or for rent?
Depending on the estate agent you choose to sell or let your property, you may be exposing yourself to ID theft.
Viewings are essential to get your property sold or let. How do you ensure that viewings are conducted safely?
1. Make sure your agent FULLY registers every applicant
If you have ever viewed properties yourself, you will know that many agents will take you to view a property with little more information than your name. However, if you are selling or letting a property, you want to make sure that the applicant is a genuinine buyer or tenant.
At Northfields we fully register every applicant, This protects the vendor as fraudulent buyers are less likely to be prepared with a fully fake details to give to the negotiator registering them. Incidentally, taking all these details also helps to protect the potential buyer as we can easily contact them in case of cancellation of the viewing or should they have a health issue while out on the viewing we have some means to contact a family member.
When the applicant is fully registered, the negotitator should ask questions about what sort of property they are looking for, why they are moving and what financial arrangements they have made to pay for the property. Although these questions mays seem invasive, they do ensure that we are only taking genuine buyers and tenants to the property. Not only will such questions help to weed out fraudsters, but they will also ensure that only people who genuinely can afford the property will be viewing it and neither the seller's/landlord's time nor the buyer's/tenant's time is wasted with a viewing that will not result in a successfully let or sold property.
How to Make Sure Your Agent Fully Registers Applicants?
Why not mystery shop any agents you are thinking of inviting in for a valuation? Pose as a buyer and register with the agent. That way, you will know exactly how thoroughly they conduct their registrations. You will also know if the agent phones you with updates and possible viewings. You don't want an agent trying to sell your property who doesn't undertake these basics.
At Northfields, we ensure that all of our staff fully register every applicant and subsequently contact our applicants, by regularly commissioning "mystery shoppers" to monitor and maintain our high standards. That way we are always assured that our service is top notch.
2. Make sure all personal paperwork is filed away and locked
Before a viewing make sure that:
- all personal paperwork is shredded or filed in a locked cabinet
- remove all sensitive paperwork, like credit card bills, from kitchen noticeboards
- make sure your wallet, purse and diary are all out of sight and reach
3. Be conscious of other security measures that could lead to burglary or theft
- make sure that your home is secure with locks installed and functioning burglar alarms
- if your burglar alarm is not working or a particular lock is broken, preferably have it fixed before viewings
- do not leave vehicle or house keys visible and do not reveal the location of spare keys
4. Insist on using an estate agent who only conducts accompanied viewings
Never allow a potential buyer or tenant to roam around a property unattended. While some agents will send someone to your property for a viewing unattended, at Northfields, we believe that it is best that one of our staff always accompany people to a viewing. Not only does this protect you and your property from theft, but if the buyer or tenant is genuine then it is best that the owner or landlord NOT be the one conducting the viewing so that the accompanying agent can get a true gauge of what the applicant is looking for in a property.
How can a buyer or tenant feel comfortable revealing that they hate the bathroom with the owner present? Armed with a buyer's or tenant's honest assessment of the property, an agent who does accompanying viewings can best advise the owner of what to do to ensure a successful sale or let, or in some cases, the agent may be able to address the objection the applicant has to the bathroom they don't like on the spot.
Make sure it is your property for sale or let, not your identity
Make sure you are not a victim of identity theft by taking simple steps to ensure that your personal details are out of sight and reach of anyone viewing your home and be selective when choosing an agent to make sure that the agent is looking after your security as well as your property transaction.
Need an up-to-date valuation of your property from an agent that always conducts accompanied viewings and fully registers potential buyers and tenants before a viewing? Contact our award-winning team on 020 8740 6622 or click here to request your valuation online.