Personal and home security is a concern whether you're old or young, single or married a parent or not. Protection of self and property is a fundamental component of feeling safe, and this is especially true in our homes. So, if you're in the market to buy a home, be mindful of security during your search.
It's likely that you will evaluate different neighborhoods as you look for you next home. Do your research to find areas that appeal to you. In addition to relying on your Realtor's expertise, go online and look around. http://www.HAR.com is an excellent resource. Many neighborhoods have Web sites, e-mail groups or discussion forums that offer helpful information about the area. You can also use the Internet to review crime statistics and search for sex offenders.
Other considerations are more in your direct control - things that are already present on the property or that you can change after you take possession of the house. Generally speaking, criminals will select the house that presents the least risk of being caught. Homes with easy access, substantial cover and good escape routes tend to be more common targets.
Evaluate points of entry to the home. Solid-core or metal doors are preferable, as are keyless deadbolt locks. Also check to see if there are windows near the doorknob; a thief could smash the window, reach in and unlock and open the door. Look at the condition of the door jamb … should it be replaced? Do all the locks on the windows work? Sliding glass doors and sliding windows should have functioning latch locks, but a through-the-frame pin is a decent hindrance to a potential thief, as is a charley-bar. Unsecure garages are also a common access point. Does the entrance to the house from the garage have a good door with a solid locking mechanism?
If the home does not have heat- or motion-activated lights outside, consider installing them. A potential thief may be dissuaded from entering your home simply based on the fact that the automatic lights around the property remove his cover as he approaches.
Let the pros handle it
You might consider a security system. If the home is not pre-wired or does not have an existing system, you could spend a substantial amount to get one installed, although most insurance companies offer an attractive discount for such a setup. If there is an existing system, determine if all windows and doors are monitored and see if the installed equipment includes a motion sensor and a battery backup. Some systems can even detect smoke, heat, fire and carbon monoxide. Find out whether the system you're looking at has that capability.
Good fences make good … security
Fences not only cut off easy escape routes, but also can provide a degree of privacy and restrict unwanted access. Additionally, if there's a lot of pedestrian activity in the neighborhood, a property without a fence may get pass-through traffic. If you have children, a fence provides a safe area for them to play.
With an enclosed back yard, you may even consider getting a dog. While big dogs are usually more intimidating and more of a stereotypical watch dog, any barking dog can be effective at giving warning that something is out of the ordinary. Plus, you can hang a Beware of Dog sign, which may act as another deterrent.
Minimize your risk
Everyone has different definitions of and expectations about safety. After all, what's "safe" to one person may be far too risky for someone else. One thing's for sure, though - we all want our home, our possessions and most of all, our lives to be as secure as possible.
When searching for a home, consider personal and home security. You may not be able to find a home that offers every conceivable security feature, but you can make improvements. Anything that makes your house less of a target will reduce your risk and give you increased peace of mind.
Whether you're interested in buying your first home, your next home, or just want to know more about home-ownership in general, I encourage you to check out a couple of great online resources: http://www.texasrealestate.com/ or http://www.har.com/ and for all of your Pearland TX and Northern Brazoria and Galveston County real estate needs, please visit my site at http://www.danfrankrealty.com/. All of these sites offer tons of useful, real estate-related information geared specifically for Texans.
Danny Frank is a local Pearland TX Real Estate expert! You can see my entire blog at http://www.pearlandrealtyblog.com
My column was also published in the 21June09 edition of the Galveston County Daily News