Must know security tips for first-time home buyers

Private Property South Africa
Taryn Isaac

In the excitement of purchasing a new home and getting it painted and decorated, one important consideration is often overlooked – security. Arm yourself with these essential security tips for first-time home buyers.

New homeowners are especially vulnerable to security risks, as they are just beginning to learn about their new home and neighbourhood. Ensure peace of mind by optimizing your home’s security. Here are some of the best home security tips to be mindful of when purchasing your first home:

1. Suss out the location before you buy:

Before you decide to make an offer on a house, you need to consider the safety of the neighbourhood.

Buyers should keep an eye out for key indicators of a good neighbourhood, such as an active neighbourhood watch group, regular security patrol of the area, well-lit streets and pathways, as well as little to no signs of vandalism.

No neighbourhood will ever be completely crime free, but you certainly do not want to buy a home in an area that has a high crime rate.

For this reason, it is essential to conduct sufficient research into the neighbourhood’s crime statistics and overall safety.

This can be done by liaising with local authorities like the local police station, who will be able to provide you with the latest crime statistics for the area.

Enlisting the help of a knowledgeable local agent can also provide you with information on the safety in the area.

Depending on what you find, you will have a clearer indication of the security measures you will need to consider, should you decide to purchase a home within that neighbourhood.

A couple looking at a house for sale

2. Getting to know your neighbours once you move in:

There are many other forms of security measures worth considering, once you’ve found your ideal neighbourhood and have settled into your new home.

One of them, is getting to know your neighbours. Creating positive relationships with the people who live around you is helpful in the event of you being on vacation or away from your home.

A neighbour who you have built a good relationship with is more likely to keep watch over your home than a neighbour you have barely had any interaction with.

If there is a neighbourhood watch group, join it. If there isn’t, you might want to start one as this will help you to network with residents of the area and it will also keep you abreast of the latest happenings in the neighbourhood.

Getting involved in the community helps you to be aware of your surroundings and offers greater insight into the safety precautions that one should take.

3. Perform an audit of your home’s security and limit easy access:

Once you’ve moved into your new home, inspecting each of the home’s entry points is crucial, as online statistics reveal that criminals generally look to target homes with multiple entry and exit points, as well as homes that have easy access to main roads.

For this reason, it is essential to conduct a walkthrough of your house to identify the areas within your home that need special attention.

Consider asking a neighbour to assist in helping to identify any security flaws or bad habits they notice which you may have overlooked.

Test the functioning of the windows and doors around your house in order to assess how easy or difficult it may be for an intruder to gain access into your home.

A big part of keeping your home secure is by ensuring proper control over the keys to your home. This can be done by changing the locks in your house.

Chances are, you are not the first person to live in the home and there is a possibility that someone might also have a copy of the keys to your house, which is why a lock change is essential.

For additional safety, consider using deadbolts to secure any access points you may be wary of.

4. Don’t advertise your home’s belongings:

Be discreet about the contents of your house and limit direct visibility into your home.

For example, if you have a glass sliding door, consider drawing the curtains or installing a set of blinds to prevent pre-break in surveillance.

Statistics indicate that 75% of perpetrators in South Africa target homes based on the perceived value of its contents rather than the level of security.

If you are purchasing any appliances or exclusive furniture for your new home, it is important to take the necessary measures to hide the "evidence."

For example, if you have just purchased a new flat screen television, avoid leaving the box lying outside on the curb where it can easily be spotted by lurking criminals. Rather shred the box into smaller pieces and dispose of it in your trash can.

Intruder's hand peeks through window blinds

5. Install a security system:

Trying to pick up the pieces after a house break in is a lot more traumatic than preventing one in the first place.

For this reason, it is essential to focus on prevention and consider the options for securing your home.

The installation of a security system is a popular option among many homeowners, as it is considered an effective way to secure a home.

An active security system can help to notify you immediately if an intruder has gained entry to your property and is especially helpful in the event of you being out of town.

Most home security systems, once triggered, provides an instant notification by transmitting a signal to the relevant 24-hour monitoring centre. By doing so, security dispatchers can immediately inform you of the alarm and head out to your home to inspect the property, as well as alert the local emergency or police services.

For maximum security, it is important to also consider arming your home’s entry points with extra reinforcement measures like steel doors, burglar guards and/or a secondary door lock.

6. Home DIY security systems:

Installing a security system can be expensive but if you’re on a tight budget consider the purchase of a DIY home wireless alarm system.

Wireless alarm systems can be purchased from any hardware store and are an affordable option for those who don’t want to pay for installation or monthly monitoring, while still offering a level of security.

When triggered, a siren will alert you and other residents in your neighbourhood.

7. Consider adding additional reinforcements:

Secure your home from the outside with additional security measures like razor wiring or electric fencing as a secondary safety barrier on your property’s walls.

The visual appearance of these extra reinforcements is likely to be deterrent to a potential intruder and will cause a delay for criminals who try to enter or exit your property.

A guard dog is also a highly effective deterrent to criminal activity.

A dog will not only help to discourage prowlers from targeting your home, but can also alert you of any strange activity occurring on your property.

Online crime statistics reveal that intruders particularly dislike pet dogs who live indoors.

Burglars don’t like drawing attention to themselves and will go to extreme lengths to avoid being seen or heard.

This is often the reason as to why intruders tend to poison any pet dogs that they encounter during a house break in.

For pet dogs who live indoors, this is much harder to do, as the dogs aren’t as easily accessible to criminals who are wanting to distract or poison them.

Home pet pug looking out the window

8. Know your local emergency services:

It is important to be familiar with the local authorities closest to you who can assist in the event of a home emergency.

These are emergency services like the local South African Police Services, the nearest hospital / emergency centre, your local general practitioner, as well as the fire brigade.

Knowing the location of these emergency services, their contact details, as well as the easiest route to get to these centres, is crucial.

Working this information into your home security and safety plans around the house is also useful so that your loved ones are familiar with these services and have easy access to this information.

Emergency numbers every homeowner should know:

  • Nationwide emergency response – 10111:

You can dial the telephone number from anywhere in South Africa at any time to speak to a call centre operator who will assign your complaint to a Flying Squad patrol vehicle, or to the local police station, who will attend to the incident.

  • National ambulance/fire brigade services – 10177:

You can dial the telephone number from anywhere in South Africa at any time in the event of a medical emergency, which can also be used in conjunction with both the fire and police department – depending on the type of emergency.

  • Poison centre - 0800 333 444:

You can dial the telephone number from anywhere in South Africa at any time in the case of poisoning to speak to an operator who will be able to assist with the immediate steps to take before heading to the hospital.

What to remember when calling an emergency number:

  • Try your best to remain calm and to speak as clearly as possible. It is also important to ensure you also have the relevant details on hand, like:

  • The nature of the emergency.

  • Your exact location of the incident (including nearby landmarks).
  • Your contact name and number.
  • Any injuries that the emergency authorities need to be aware of.
  • It is also vital that you do not hang up until you are told to do so.
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