Joseph Del Sesto's Blog
If you live in what's considered a "safe neighborhood", it's all too easy to be lulled into a false sense of complacency. Although the crime rate in your part of town may be low, the chances of living in an area that's totally crime free are very small.
Burglars and other would-be criminals are often opportunistic, so it pays to take precautions and avoid being an "easy target." Here are a few home security tips that can help protect your property, your family, and your valuables.
- Make it a habit to lock your doors at night and every time you leave the house for even a short period of time. If you're behind schedule and in a rush, stop and take one more minute to do a quick security check and -- while you're at it -- make sure hot appliances, such as stoves, ovens, and irons, are turned off.
- Even in the best of neighborhoods, bicycles that are left out in your driveway or front yard can and often do get stolen in seconds. When a bicycle gets stolen from your property, it can be a painful and expensive lesson. Fortunately, those types of losses can be avoided by having your family get in the habit of concealing bicycles in secure locations (like a garage or shed) or padlocking them to a stationary object, such as a tree or well-anchored fence post.
- Leaving a house key in your mailbox, under a welcome mat, or in a flower pot may seem like a good idea at the time, but those hiding places can easily be discovered by the wrong people.
- Allowing mail or newspapers to pile up while you're away for the weekend or on vacation is a tip-off to burglars that no one is home. Having a checklist that reminds you to suspend mail and newspaper delivery while you're away can help you avoid that risk. If you plan on being gone for the weekend, a trusted neighbor or friend can often be depended on to gather deliveries that might otherwise advertise your absence.
- Teaching your kids home safety and security measures at an early age is another vital component of crime prevention. They should be taught and reminded what to say and do if a stranger either asks for personal information over the phone or asks if they can come into the house. It's important for kids to know that they can and should be assertive with adults when protecting themselves and their home.
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When you stop and think about all the potential pitfalls, the prospect of buying a house and moving into a new neighborhood can be quite nerve wracking! (It doesn't have to be, though.)
Since there are so many crucial factors to consider, you want to be sure you're not overlooking anything important.
A Real Estate Agent Can Help
What makes the process a lot less daunting is the fact that experienced Realtors and real estate agents are available to provide you with guidance, advice, and help.
The ideal real estate agent will be familiar with areas you're interested in, and will be able to provide insights into everything from nearby conveniences and municipal services to the character of neighborhoods you're considering and the quality of the local school district. If you try to do it on your own and gather all the relevant information you need to make an informed home buying decision, it can be overwhelming! By working with a knowledgeable buyers' agent, you're a lot more likely to find a home that is a near-perfect match for your wants, needs, and budget.
In addition to getting prequalified for a mortgage, one of the first steps to beginning a house hunting campaign is clarifying exactly what you're looking for. Creating both a "wish list" and a "must have list" will enable your real estate agent to make the best use of your time and effectively match you with houses you'll like.
Although everyone has a different perspective when it comes to house hunting, most people start making decisions, early on, about things like the house style they'd prefer, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms they need, and the preferred size of the backyard. First-time home buyers may be unsure about their square-footage requirements, but after touring a few houses and spending time with their real estate agent, they usually gain a good grasp of how much space they would need to feel comfortable.
Other Factors To Weigh
If you have children now or are planning to start a family soon, then your priorities may include living in a good school district and being close to playgrounds and summer recreation programs. The ideal neighborhood would also include potential playmates for your children, low-to-moderate street traffic, and short commuting distances to work. A low crime rate, convenience to shopping areas, and off-street parking are other typical priorities.
While your agent will undoubtedly help you develop a list of requirements and preferences for your real estate search, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- The layout and floor plan of your ideal home
- The preferred size and style of the kitchen
- The possible inclusion of a deck, patio, garage, and/or finished basement
- The number and size of closets and storage space
- Features like a fireplace, fences, and a backyard shed