Simple Home Security Tips For First-Time Buyers
Now that the stressors of designing your new home and moving into it have passed, it's time to think about home security. First time homebuyers often overlook home security when buying a home; they are so used to security being provided by their landlord or rental complex that security features beyond deadlocks never even cross their minds.
Fortunately, securing your home doesn't necessarily mean shelling out thousands of dollars for the latest home security technology. In many cases, simple actions can protect your home just fine.
Simple and Smart Home Security Tips
As a first-time homebuyer, chances are you're on a tight budget which is why we didn't want to go the expected route of saying "invest in a home security system" for this post; not everyone can afford it and the truth is, increased awareness and simple actions can keep your home just as safe than a home security system. After all, a home security system only sets off an alarm and alerts you and/or the police that your home has been breached, they don't necessarily make it more difficult for a burglar to gain access to your home.
There are plenty of other affordable actions as new homeowners you can take to improve your new home's security, either by dissuading burglars or making it harder for them to gain access.
1. Pay Attention To Your Neighborhood. Much of being safe comes down to being aware. As you settle into your new home, become aware of your surroundings. What cars do your neighbors drive? When are they home or away? Become familiar with the area and normal behavior for your neighborhood so you can recognize something (or someone) unusual when it happens. Ask your local police department for a crime map and read the local paper's police report section to familiarize yourself with any crimes that are happening and where they are occurring.
2. Meet the Neighbors. Speaking of familiarizing yourself with the neighborhood, get out and introduce yourself to the neighbors too. They don't have to become your new best friends, but neighbors who are familiar with one another A) tend to look out for each other, B) notice when things are "off" or suspicious at the neighbor's home, and C) report it to authorities. Neighbors can help ensure your home looks more lived in when you're away by watering plants, mowing, picking up newspapers and mail, or shoveling after a snowfall.
Sarah Leary, Co-Founder and Vice-President of Marketing and Operations at Nextdoor, Inc. agrees: "Start by building a safer neighborhood by connecting neighbors to one another so they can share timely information and protect themselves."
3. Conduct a Home Security Audit. Another smart security measure is to take stock of your home's current security situation. Identify all entry points (windows, doors, attached garages, decks/patios) and think about how you can improve their security. A new home shouldn't need new locks, unless multiple contractors had copies of the keys and the locks were not re-keyed before you took ownership of the house. Depending on what the builder offered, you might want to invest in upgraded windows or patio door locks. Add deadbolts if the home doesn't already have them.
4. Take Simple Precautions. Even the simplest of actions can improve home security. Hang curtains or install blinds to block the view into your home. Place a wooden rod in the sliding door track to prevent it from being forced open. Connect lamps or outside lights to timers, so the home looks occupied, even when no one is home.
"Light-timers are inexpensive and can be found almost everywhere. They should be used on a daily basis, not just when you're away," explains Chris McGoey, a Certified Safety Professional and Certified Protection Professional.
5. Be Careful Who You Let Into Your Home. You'll likely have a lot of strangers coming to the house during those first few weeks: delivery people, service providers, contractors, etc. Make sure you invite them. Be wary of unsolicited providers who show up without having made an appointment with you. They could be scouting the house. Try to get all the service hook-ups and installations done before you move in. There's no chance of anyone seeing your valuables this way. Limit them to the areas they need to work in only. Don't give tours and show off the house.
6. Safe Landscaping. When the time comes to landscape your yard, think safety. Consider adding solar lights or motion lights to illuminate entry points and dark areas of the yard – front and back. Eliminate hiding spaces by planting low-growing shrubs or flowers near windows and doors and keeping them well-trimmed. Plants trees away from windows.
7. Don't Forget Fido. Despite all the advances in technology, dogs still make excellent security systems. Dogs are great at drawing attention to unusual activities and will warn you when someone unfamiliar is too close to the house or if they hear unusual noises outside. Size doesn't matter too much; simply hearing a dog is often enough to persuade would-be burglars to move on to a different target.
Much of home security is about discouraging burglars from attempting to break into your home. Burglars want to get in and out fast. If they have to mess around with locks or try to access the home in a visible location, they'll move on to an easier target. When thinking about how to improve your home's security think about what would discourage a burglar or make it harder for him or her to get into the house unnoticed and you'll be well on your way to a secure home.
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