Sobering crime statistics coupled with the fact that many families have been affected by crime either directly or indirectly, have made home buyers in South Africa some of the most security conscious people in the world.
For a large majority of home buyers in this country, security has become one of the most crucial influencing factors when deciding which home to purchase, says Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.
“For this reason, properties with top-end security features that are located with security estates often fetch a higher premium than other types of properties and generally have a greater return on investment over the long term. It seems evident that the security of a home and its location, directly affect the perceived value of that property,” he says.
Goslett adds that due to the fact that a neighbourhood’s crime rate can have a negative impact on the value of their property, buyers should spend time researching the area and crime statistics before they invest. Often more time and energy is spent on looking at the features of a home than the neighbourhood in which it is situated. “However,” he says, “a property’s location is something that in reality is much more critical to the value of the home and enjoyment of living in that property than its aesthetic appeal.”
He offers the following tips to homebuyers wanting to research how safe an area is:
Contact that local residents association:
This will provide the potential buyer with unbiased information regarding the area and its residents. “The local resident association will have information about any plans for future developments such as suburb rejuvenation projects, what kind of response the area gets from its local municipality, how successful the private security companies are and the level of support and participation of the residents in the area,” says Goslett.
Talk to the present homeowners:
Speaking to potential neighbours will give the buyer an idea of whether they take pride in their neighbourhood and care about the wellbeing of their fellow residents. Goslett says that this is important because your neighbours often serve as your first and best line of defence in the event of property-related crime. They will also be able to offer some honest information on what it is actually like to live in that particular area.
Consult with security companies that service the area:
Getting in touch with private security companies which operate in the respective area is another brilliant source of neighbourhood information. They will be able to provide crime statistics and figures, response times and advise what kind of physical presence they have in the area as well as any future additional security plans they may have. Goslett notes that is also important to find out what they offer their members, as chances are if you buy in the area, you will make use of their service.
Are there sufficient multiple-use areas:
Look for parks and other multiple-use areas and see whether they are maintained properly and visited by the residents. Do residents walk in the neighbourhood – the more foot traffic an area experiences, the better. An active street life is one of the best defences against street crime.
Visit the area at different times:
Driving through the area during different times of the day could indicate either unpleasant or welcome conditions. The different times could bring about a variety of elements such as how severe the traffic is during peak times or how lively and noisy the night life is.
Check the home’s security system:
An upgraded good security system adds incredible valuable to a home and ensures the safety of the homes occupants. The more security features a home has, the better. These could include a working alarm system, adequate burglar proofing on all the windows, a well-built perimeter wall, electric fencing, an automated security gate in the driveway, flood lights with motion sensors, security gates on all the doors, intercom systems, and CCTV cameras.
“Buyers that purchase a home with an excellent security system situated in a safe neighbourhood will ensure that the value of their home continues to appreciate, as well as have the peace of mind of knowing that their family is safe,” Goslett concludes.