Be safe in your new home

When you've been through stressful negotiations, the rigors of the home loan application process and the strain of actually moving to your new home, security may not be uppermost in your mind.

But it is important to make safety a priority, says Dr Piet Botha, chairman of the Nationlink estate agency group, who notes that the most recent crime statistics show a shocking increase of more than 25 percent in armed robberies at residential premises.

Those in the process of moving into a new home are also especially vulnerable to opportunist burglary because they are often focused on everything other than home safety and because they are not yet familiar with their new environment and what precautions they need to take.

"And as recent reports have shown, even moving to a gated estate or boomed off area does not exempt you from being a potential target for crime. So you need to make sure that the home is secure and appears 'lived-in' from day one of your move. It's a good idea, for example, to hang up curtains immediately so that your boxes and belongings are not in view to entice would-be burglars."

The next port of call, he says, is to introduce yourself to your new neighbours and develop a mutually beneficial relationship, so that if one person is away the other can check on their property.

"It may also be advisable to establish a distress code which can be used to indicate to each other that there is a problem. And in the broader sense of neighbourliness you should also interact with the local neighbourhood watch or community policing forum."

In addition you need to ensure that your immediate environment deters would-be burglars. Botha says this may include putting up additional exterior lighting to illuminate all corners of the property and installing an automated system to switch on lights and music at certain times even when you are not at home.

"You should also consider installing an alarm system linked to a reputable security company and security gates fitted with deadbolts at all entry and exit points as well as between the sleeping and living quarters. Indeed, many buyers are coming to regard such measures as 'standard equipment' these days so you will not only be making your property safer with such additions, but also more saleable for the future."

"And in the meanwhile, you could make savings on your household contents insurance, as many companies grant premium discounts to clients who put in an alarm system."
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