Michael Leary's Blog
One aspect of house hunting that some prospective home buyers overlook is security. Perhaps it's because they're looking at homes in "nice neighborhoods, where you shouldn't have to worry about that sort of thing happening." Maybe another reason they're paying little or no attention to security issues is that they're more preoccupied with the layout of the kitchen, the size of the backyard, and the condition of the master bathroom.
Even though there are dozens of details to compare and think about when you're house hunting, security features are important enough to include in your checklist. By letting your real estate agent know that home security is a high priority for you, they'll hopefully point out security features that they notice and perhaps ask the listing agent for any additional information on things like installed alarms systems, deadbolt locks, or security lighting on the property.
As a side note, if the present owner has recently installed an extensive security system in the house, you can also use that as an opportunity (excuse) to inquire about crime in the neighborhood and whether there have been any recent incidents in the area. Additional research may need to be done to ferret out that information.
As you check out different houses that your buyers' agent shows you, here are a few security-related checkpoints to keep in mind:
- Do the doors look solid and are they secured by deadbolt locks?
- Do first-floor windows have functional and securely locking mechanisms?
- Are there any outside floodlights, lamp posts, and/or other forms of illumination around the house?
- Are there any overgrown bushes next to the house that could conceal a burglar's attempt to enter the house through a window?
- Are there any fences on the premises that might discourage a burglar from entering the property?
- Do the main entrances have locking storm doors that provide an extra layer of security?
- Are there any other security vulnerabilities that you or your real estate agent think need addressing, either now or in the immediate future?
When you do find the ultimate house for you and your family, it's always a good idea to change the locks on all external doors as soon as possible. You never know how many duplicate keys have been circulated over the years to contractors, neighbors, cleaning people, pet sitters, house sitters, and family members. One way to take control of your new home's security situation is to make sure there are no extra house keys floating around in the hands of people you don't know.