Your security could be sending the wrong message to buyers

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

Those who install thousands of rand’s worth of security features before putting their home up for sale may be putting some buyers off.

This is because all the barbed wire, wall top spikes and burglar bars may create the impression that there is a problem in the area. Yes, we know that considering the high levels of crime in this country this sounds a little silly, but it really does happen.

South Africans are caught in a bit of a catch 22 situation when it comes to security. Too much and it may appear that the property is regularly targeted by criminals, too little may force a buyer to reconsider, given the expense of installing the security features necessary to make them feel safe.

The amount of security one has on the property depends on a number of factors. While it may be assumed that someone whose home resembles Fort Knox has been the victim of crime or lives in a high crime area, this isn't necessarily the case. That person may feel vulnerable, or have been spooked by the high levels of crime reported across the country. We are not suggesting that these people have become paranoid about crime, but different people react differently to threats – real or perceived - and some may be far more concerned about avoiding becoming a victim of crime than others.

We are also not suggesting that sellers remove security features before putting the home on the market. There are generally some very good reasons why one home is more secure than others on the block. Older folk who live on their own for example may pay more attention to security, as might someone who has been the victim of a violent crime. Many people who have been the victims of a hijacking wouldn’t dream of living in a home without electric gates and garages, while those who have woken to find an intruder standing next to their beds may have covered the garden with security beams…even if the break-in didn't occur at their current address.

As with all things relating to property sales, disclosure is key and buyers who are concerned should ask the agent why the seller has gone to such great lengths to secure his home before they take a decision on whether to view the home or put in an offer.

By law, sellers have to disclose any problems associated with the property and that includes telling a potential buyer about issues associated with crime. In other words, he can't gloss over the fact that the home has been burgled or that something more serious such as a murder has taken place in the house or flat. A buyer can't ask too many questions about a home that they would like to buy and if they are concerned about security, they should ask detailed questions.

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