13 Home Security Tips: What First Time Homebuyers Need to Know

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Buying your first home is often very exciting and a little terrifying. Homebuyers have visions in their heads of what a perfect home will look like. White picket fence? Surrounded by beautiful flowers? Do you see a broad back porch with kids playing on a swing set? But, are homeowners considering what it will take to secure their perfect home? Following are some of our top home safety tips to ensure you and your family are protected.

While it’s easy to be distracted by decisions affecting paint, furniture selection, and interior décor, it is important that you know you are getting a safe home. When shopping for your first house, deterrence is the name of the game. Because many burglaries lack physical evidence or witnesses to provide clues, only 13 percent of burglaries are solved. While this may seem slightly disheartening, remember that burglars are often opportunistic. They seek out homes that appear to be easy targets.

As a first time homebuyer, you can look for several things that keep you off the list of easy targets. Consider these security tips when buying your first home.

Use a trusted realtor to ensure you are buying a safe home

This one may seem obvious, but before you even start scouring the neighborhoods for potential purchases, start with a trusted Realtor. Realtors make commission from the homes they sell. As a result, they are, well, motivated to sell. However, a good realtor will be open and honest about the homes they offer.

Do you have a friend in the realty business? Do you know someone you can ask for referrals? The more comfortable you are with a realtor, the more likely you are to ask the questions that will lead to helpful information.

Pay attention to neighborhood conditions to buy a safe home

The overall state and condition of the surrounding neighborhood is a good place to start. Pay attention to the quality of the environment.

  • Are the sidewalks in good repair?
  • Do the homes appear to be maintained?
  • Are surrounding mailboxes in working order?
  • Do the neighbors maintain their lawns?
  • Are there any cars that appear to be broken down in driveways or on the street?
  • Do people frequently park on the streets?

While none of these is necessarily an indication of a “bad” neighborhood, it can help you assess the general merits of an area. If the neighbors take good care of their home, they are likely to want to protect it and those around it to deter theft and burglaries.

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Gauge home safety by observing resident interactions

Visit your prospective community several times, aiming for different times of the days and different days of the week. Observe the community in action.

  • Are there children playing outside?
  • Do neighbors interact with one another?
  • Are there people outside walking dogs, taking strolls with children, or going for a jog?
  • Are residents outside on porches or patios?
  • Are people engaging in behavior that seems as though they feel comfortable or safe in their neighborhood?

If the residents in a neighborhood seem comfortable in their homes and people are often outside, you can usually take this as an indication that the area is relatively safe. When residents develop relationships with their neighbors, they are more likely to feel protective of the area. Also, the more time residents spend out in the neighborhood, the more likely they are to spot something suspicious.

Keep in mind that neighborhoods should and do appear differently on a weekday morning than they would on a weekend afternoon. Also, if you are researching in the winter, you will likely see less people out in the neighborhood than you would during the summer.

Ensure the safety of a home by analyzing distance between houses

Take note of the location of a potential home. Is it located on a particularly busy street or intersection? Busy streets characterized by lots of traffic make it easier for a potential burglar to access your home. If there is lots of activity happening, a prowler might easily go unnoticed. It is important to note that you may also want to avoid unnecessarily secluded homes as well because they offer cover for a would-be intruder.

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Confirm the proximity to a local police department

Proximity to local authorities or police makes for a good deterrent. And remember, deterrence is key. Prowlers are less likely to choose a house that is close to a police station. In addition, being close to a local police department reduces the arrival time in the event of an actual break-in.

Consider street lighting as a factor in home security

Lighting is an important factor to consider when looking to buy a home. Although most burglaries occur between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., intruders look for opportunities to go unseen. Burglars often choose the daytime because children are at school and adults are at work. However, there are those potential intruders who choose the night to cover their tracks. Well-lit streets will make them think twice before strolling toward your house.

Motion lighting also makes it difficult for prowlers to keep from being seen. Does the home come equipped with motion lighting? Does it illuminate major points of entry? Remember, burglars look for opportunities to avoid detection and your job is to find ways to make that difficult.

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The relation of the home to other houses and how it contributes to safety

Visibility is a very important element in home break-ins. While it may seem desirable to keep your distance from your neighbors, having a greater degree of privacy is often more enticing for intruders. If it is difficult for your neighbors to see your home, you may gain more privacy, but so will a potential burglar. If it’s easy for you to go unseen, the same applies to someone trying to break into your home. High fences and tall shrubbery also gives an opportunistic burglar some extra cover.

The proximity of your home to the street is something you should consider. How close does the house sit to the road? If it is located particularly close to the street, it may make easy work for an intruder to quickly seize an opportunity and be on his way before anyone notices.

The position of your house on the street can also be a factor. Houses in the center of a street are more likely to be broken into than corner lots. Corner lots are typically more visible because they are not flanked either side by other houses.

Check the points of entry from a home security standpoint

Only 2 percent of burglars enter through a second floor point of entry. It’s a safe bet that someone seeking to unlawfully enter your home is going to try and do it from the first floor. Make sure that the points of entry on the first floor are properly protected.

  • Examine hinges and door locks.
  • Make sure windows open and close easily and are properly secured.
  • Inspect garage doors and ensure they function properly.

Garage doors are frequently forgotten as points of entry, but often garages have an unsecured door leading directly into a house. To avoid this vulnerability, garage door sensors can be a helpful tool. They can alert you when garage doors are left open.

Ensure you can get into your home safely

Consider how you will safely get in and out of your home on a regular basis. There may be late nights and early mornings, times which you will be unaccompanied going to and from events or work. Does a potential home have an attached garage? If unattached or a home without a garage, you will have to enter your home through an exterior door. This may be just the opportunity an intruder is seeking. If you are considering a home with an unattached garage, install motion sensor lights to illuminate the path from your car to your doorstep.

Research local crime rates to gauge the safety of an area

A quick call to the local police station or search on the internet can reveal some very telling crime statistics. Do your research on crime in the area. Avoid neighborhoods where numbers are particularly high.

Is there a neighborhood watch? Having a program like a neighborhood watch in place means that residents are taking active steps to deter crime. And again, deterrence is of the utmost importance.

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Establish how you’ll identify visitors as part of home security

Does the home come equipped with a peephole or other way to identify visitors? 34 percent of burglars gain entry to a home through the front door and 22 percent find access through a back door. Because most burglaries happen at these major points of entry, it’s important that you know who is at your door before opening it. If your prospective home lacks this feature, make sure you can easily upgrade.

Smart devices are now coming equipped with the ability to utilize cameras so that you can see a visitor via camera. To fully protect against unwanted visitors, consider installing one of these devices in your home. With ADT Pulse, you can even view this information via smartphone app or web portal.

Check for modern updates to get a better idea of the potential for home security

Modern homes are often more desirable from a security standpoint for a few reasons:

However, older homes aren’t a deal breaker. Finding a charming home that doesn’t fall in the modern realm is perfectly acceptable if the foundation is solid and it has been properly maintained. From a security standpoint, it’s important that walls, doors, and windows be sturdy or easily replaceable.

Look for a home security system already installed

A home that does not have a home security system is three times as likely to be broken into. If deterrence is the name of the game, then having a security system makes you a frontrunner. If purchasing a home security system seems intimidating, you may consider buying a home that already has one in place.

However, that may not always be as easy as it sounds. Don’t despair. If you find the perfect home that is not already equipped with home security, you can usually have one installed with little fuss. Make sure that the house contains the foundations for home security. Call your local ADT authorized dealer for more information.

Finding the perfect home is not an easy job for most first-time homebuyers. The last thing you want to do is find your dream house, only to realize you have the seemingly insurmountable job of making it safe. Do the following and you will sleep sound.

How to keep your home secure:

  1. Find a realtor you trust
  2. Check out the neighborhood
  3. Look to see if residents feel safe
  4. Identify how close houses are to one another
  5. Check to see how close the home is to the police department
  6. Make sure there is proper street lighting
  7. See whether the home is visible from the street
  8. Check out your points of entry and ensure they are solid
  9. Identify a safe way to get inside the home
  10. Research local crime rates
  11. Establish a way to know who is knocking before you open your door
  12. Check for modern updates
  13. Identify existing home security technology

Stick with paint colors, furniture, and the other fun stuff by buying a home that is already secure. Happy house hunting!

For more information on keeping your new home safe, call us at 1-800-580-1342.

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