For Sale By Owner and Security

J Philip Faranda September 7, 2010

I have blogged about security and home sellers before; I debated how to approach this subject today, because I don’t want to give any wing nuts any ideas. But bad people will do bad things anyway, and good people will be good anyway. And I don’t think any creeps read me. So here it is.

I got the following email from one of my agents: 

Hi Phil,
I just called up a FSBO.  This one had paid some company to list it on MLS but the appointments are handled by the owner.  The property is vacant.  The owner gave me the code before verifying my name and agency.  She never asked for a phone number, or any other identifying information.  She really has no idea who is going into her house.  I think this should be a blog –  this is why everyone needs a listing agent.  They do not have the tools to verify, over the phone, who is entering their house.  I don’t know if it is worse because it is vacant (easier to steal stuff) or would be worse if it were occupied – might be personally at risk.  Of course, they are not at risk from an agent, but what if someone is just using our name … Then we <and they> are at risk and we could never have even heard of the house.

Let’s do the math. The home is vacant. The seller does not verify the identity or licensure of the agent calling to show. An imposter COULD steal an agent name from a directory as a matter of fact. If there is an issue with the house, the owner really doesn’t know who has been there or when. This is a recipe for disaster. 

Let me stress that I am not knocking hybrid/flat fee or FSBO assist models that do an MLS entry only with no or limited service for a flat fee. I am knocking inattention to security. Whether they are on the MLS or not, FSBOs have security risks that agents do not have. 

For example, we put our listings on CSS, or Centralized Showings. They verify the agent’s identity via a non-public showing code. The homeowner and agent then get a confirmation email. If the agent did not make the appointment (never happened) they now know someone is using their name. This is one of the many things a good broker will do, and why we are worth every cent we are paid. If you are selling by owner and think you are saving the agent’s “cut” and nothing else, you would be well advised to understand the many things we do that you haven’t even thought of.

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