Improving Boston Area Home Security

If you’re not concerned with Boston area home security, perhaps you should be. The United States is the world’s most burglarized nation, with a burglary occurring every fifteen seconds! And, while we like to think of our Boston area neighborhoods as safe, the sad fact is that even in the best of neighborhoods throughout America there are unscrupulous people ready to steal your valuables right from the very home in which you live. The majority of home burglaries occur when you are away from your home — especially when you and your family are on vacation or out of town.

Improve Boston area home security by joining a neighborhood crime watch

Make Boston Area Home Security a Top Priority

You can take some proactive measures to make sure your home is a little safer when you’re not there. Improving your home security can also help to lower your homeowners insurance rates as well. Follow these guidelines to improve your Boston area home security.

Install a good alarm system.

Most industry experts agree that the most important feature of any alarm system is its ability to act as a deterrent. If a potential burglar sees that your home is protected by an alarm system, he is less likely to run the risk of choosing your house. There are too many other homes that probably have no security or alarm systems from which the robber can choose.

Get to know your neighbors.

While it may sound like a suggestion from the 1950s when the vast majority of Americans thought nothing of leaving their houses unlocked, the simple truth is an observant and caring neighbor can be important in warding off burglars. If you have close friendships with your neighbors who agree Boston area home security is important, let them know you are going to be away from your home for a few days. Perhaps one of them may be willing to collect your mail, newspapers or packages that may be delivered in your absence. These are often telltale signs would-be robbers look for when scouting a home that may be unoccupied for a short period of time –– long enough for a robbery.

If your neighborhood has a crime watch group committed to improving Boston area home security, make sure you alert them about your plans to be out of town or on vacation. It always helps to have additional eyes watching your property, just in case it was being targeted for illicit activity.

Break out the spy equipment.

With the technology of today it’s much easier and more affordable than ever to connect your Boston area home security cameras to your smartphone, tablet or laptop. This allows you to keep an eye on your home and your belongings remotely, giving you an added sense of security, peace of mind and the ability to contact the police if you see something suspicious. Even less expensively, you can install one or more “dummy” cameras that may act to deter potential burglars. Some people use a combination of both real and dummy cameras to ensure they can optimize their Boston area home security.

Install motion sensor lights.

Burglars are like vampires. They love the darkness, but hate the light. By installing motion sensor lights the chances of deterring a potential robber are greatly increased. No burglar wants to have bright lights shone on him that may enable neighbors to get a good look at him or be able to provide the police with a good description.

Don’t make your house alluring to crooks.

Most burglars have an idea of what they are looking for when they choose a home to rob. Simply put, they look for the easiest and most accessible targets that offer the highest potential.

So don’t make it easier for them than it needs to be by having your valuable belongings in plain view if a burglar looks through a window. Position your curtains, drapes or blinds so your electronics such as computers and flat screen TVs aren’t easily seen from outside your home. Keep guns and rifles locked in gun safes or gun racks. Don’t leave jewelry on top of your dresser. Make sure your valuable silverware is out of sight in a cabinet — preferably a locked one. Crooks are opportunists, so if they don’t immediately see something worth stealing they may move on to another house.

By following these and other smart ideas, you can improve your Boston area home security. Find more tips for lowering your homeowner insurance rates under our Boston Insurance section of articles under Boston Real Estate Categories to your right.

We also offer tips on a daily basis on Twitter and our Facebook Page. Some of which may deal with Boston area home security. Check us out there as well.

Boston Area Home Security – Do It Yourself

When it comes to Boston area home security, you have three options. Hire an outside company and pay for a monthly monitoring fee, do it yourself, or don’t have any home security at all.

We don’t think the third option is a very good one, and the first option can get expensive.

Here are some ways to have Boston area home security, do it yourself and save a lot of money in the process…

Having some sort of home security in place is not only smart, but in some cases, it might save you a few dollars a year on your homeowner’s insurance. Check with your agent to see which home security system qualifies for a discount in your particular case.

To get more tips on home improvements and ways to save money by doing-it-yourself, check out our other articles by clicking on the Boston Home Improvements link to your right under Boston Real Estate Categories. Be sure to Find Buyer’s Choice Realty on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter!

Benefits of Installing a Boston Home Security System

You probably already know that installing a Boston home security system will give you and your family peace of mind, but are you aware of all the benefits of adding a security system to your home?

Maybe you question whether it’s worth the added cost to install a security system in your Boston home. Do they really prevent theft or are they just an unnecessary expense? Do they malfunction often, which can become a nuisance? What do they truly protect against, if anything?

Benefits of Having a Boston Home Security System

Benefits of installing a Boston home security system1. Installation of a Boston home security system is relatively easy, whether you choose to do it yourself or you have it professionally installed. If you want to spend a little extra money to have an installer come to your home, you can rest assured that if the system malfunctions in the future, the installer will return to check out and fix the problem.

2. Often, your insurance company will give you a discount on your homeowner’s insurance if you tell them you have a home security system. You may be able to save up to 20 percent on your insurance depending on your company and the type of alarm system you have.

3. Alarm systems can be installed in different ways, including doors, ceilings, walls and even windows. If you have limited space, you can probably still find room for an alarm system.

4. If a burglar is thinking of breaking into your home, they’re likely to be deterred if they see that you have an alarm system. Monitored alarm systems alert the alarm company to a break-in, and in turn they notify police. When your alarm system is installed, you can opt to have a sign outside or a sticker on your house that shows that you have an alarm system. This alone can often-times prevent a break-in.

5. Many alarm systems come with additional features, like sounding a small beep when somebody enters the house or walks into a specific room. The alarm won’t go off, but you’ll know when people are coming and going.

6. You may be able to attach the alarm system to a recording device. If motion is detected in a room, a camera will click on and start recording any activity. Some alarms can even be monitored with a smart phone or a computer while you’re away from your Boston home.

7. You can find an alarm system that alerts you to other hazards as well. For example, many systems will sound an alarm if there’s a fire or the presence of carbon monoxide.

8. When it’s time to sell your Boston home, having an installed alarm system can raise the value of your property. Since the new homeowner won’t have to spend extra time or money to upgrade the house, this can increase the value of your home to a potential buyer.

9. If there are several homes in a neighborhood that have an alarm system, the percentage of crime in a community is usually lower overall. This makes a community more desirable to move into. Check with your neighbors to see how many other homes in your neighborhood have alarm systems.

For more Boston home tips, Find us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter.

Real Estate News – July 2011

Real Estate News - July 2011

In this Issue:*

Seasonal Home Maintenance – Things You Should Do Now

Top 10 Tips For Buying Your First Home

Protect Your Home While on Vacation

(Your comments are welcome at the bottom of our newsletter)

Seasonal Home Maintenance – Things You Should Do Now

Seasonal Home Maintenance - Things You Should Do Now Certain home maintenance tasks should be completed each season to prevent structural damage, save energy, and keep all your home’s systems running properly.

The most critical home maintenance issues have to do with combating heat and humidity. Moisture is a constant in many parts of the country, and keeping your home dry is critical for preventing structural damage caused by mold, fungus, and insect infestations. Also, if you live in a coastal area, you’ll need to make sure your house is ready to withstand hurricanes; The Atlantic hurricane season began June 1st and runs through November 30th.

Key maintenance tasks to perform

Check your drainage. If rainwater is not guided away from the house, it gets into crawl spaces and mold starts growing on the structures and in the insulation. Also, if the soil stays wet around the foundation, the retained water creates an opportunity for termites. Termites love wet soil.

If you have areas of standing water, you need to plan for corrective action, such as re-grading, building landscaping features, or installing a French drain (a shallow trench often filled with gravel that’s designed to redirect water).

Look for overflow from the gutters and weak or non-existent flow from the downspouts that indicate a blockage. Check to see if the gutters have pulled away from the house, and for bent spots. You can make minor repairs to gutters for about $50 by adjusting brackets, gently hammering out dents, and replacing damaged sections.

Look for rotting wood along the eaves. Check your roof overhang—also called the eaves—for dripping water and peeling paint that may indicate roof leaks and rot. If you see signs of trouble, consult a home inspector or roofing contractor.

Look for roof damage. Inspecting your roof is especially important if your house falls under the drip line of a large tree or if you’ve had a recent hailstorm. If your roof is steep or otherwise difficult to navigate, stay on the ground and use a pair of binoculars. Look for loose, damaged, or missing shingles, and be sure to check plumbing vents. Although roofs typically last 20 years, the neoprene boots installed around vents last only 10. If yours are cracked or split, call a roofing contractor to replace—they cost about $50 per boot plus labor.

Test your air conditioning. Have your air conditioning checked to see how it’s working. You might want to consider purchasing a service contract with an HVAC contractor for twice yearly maintenance, an agreement that will cost $150–250 annually. Your air conditioning is like a car tire, in that a slow refrigerant leak can go undetected for a long time before it has a noticeable effect. Annual maintenance guarantees any minor leaks will be caught and fixed, a repair that pays for itself in terms of energy efficiency and increased life of the equipment. Plus, you’ll be prioritized ahead of the pack if your system fails on a hot day.

Clean your siding. Algae growth and mildew frequently appear on siding. Clean your vinyl, brick, stucco, or wood siding with mild soap and water, a brush, and a garden hose with a spray nozzle. A pressure or power washer should only be used by a professional. You can damage the siding and you can even damage the grout between bricks with a pressure washer. Plus you can blow water up under the siding and into the walls and insulation, which leads to mold growth. If you choose to have your siding professionally cleaned, expect to pay $300–$500.

Prepare for hurricanes. If you live on the coast, check the condition of your home’s hurricane-resistant features, such as shutters and bracing, and make sure you have plywood and fasteners on hand for covering windows. Caulk and weatherstrip windows and doors, if necessary. If you have double-entry doors (which consist of two doors side by side, one of which is usually fixed), reinforce them with heavy-duty slide bolts, strike plates, and deadbolts. The materials will cost you around $100 if you do the project yourself.

Spending a few hours here and there on home maintenance tasks helps you spot developing problems quickly and prevent costly repairs.



Top 10 Tips For Buying Your First Home

10 Tips For Buying Your First House

Before you start the home-buying process, make sure you are ready to buy a home where you will live for three to five years or longer, since it can take that long to build equity in a home and recoup your investment costs. Think about your dream home and your dream neighborhood, but recognize that you may need to sift through these dreams to find a community and a home that you can comfortably afford.

Here are some tips to get you started on the step-by-step process of buying a home:

1. Check Your Credit Score

Lenders base your mortgage qualification on a variety of factors, including your income and assets, your debt-to-income ratio, your pattern of savings and your job stability. But the most important factor in today’s tightened credit world is your credit score. Lenders tie the interest rate you must pay to your credit score, so that borrowers with a score of 720 and sometimes 740 and above are the only ones who will pay the lowest mortgage rates. Borrowers with a credit score below 620 may not qualify at all for a mortgage until they can improve their score.

2. Set Your Housing Budget

A lender will tell you how much you can borrow, but each potential homeowner should create a simple budget for themselves with income and spending to determine how much they are willing to spend on housing payments. Financial experts recommend homeowners spend a maximum of about 30% of their gross monthly income on principal, interest, homeowners insurance and taxes. Don’t forget to budget about 1% of the home price for condo or homeowner association fees and maintenance costs.

3. Start Saving and Stop Spending

Once you have an estimate of your mortgage payment, start saving the difference between that payment and your current rent every month. In addition to building your savings, this allows you to get comfortable with a higher housing payment.

4. Meet With a Lender

Get pre-qualified for a mortgage loan before you look at homes so you can avoid falling in love with a home you cannot afford. You may be surprised to discover you can afford something pricier than you thought since interest rates are so low. Make sure you ask your lender about your variety of loan options and get an idea of how much cash you will need for a down payment and closing costs.

5. Find a Reputable Real Estate Agent

All buyers should have a real estate agent or broker to represent their interests during negotiations and to help buyers recognize the value in different homes and neighborhoods. Your real estate agent should be experienced, knowledgeable and familiar with where you want to live. Trusting your real estate agent is vitally important to buying your first home.

6. Narrow Your Priorities

Decide whether it is more important to you to live in a particular type of home (a single family home with a garage or a condo in a high rise) or in a particular neighborhood. If you cannot find or afford everything you want in your first home, you may need to make some compromises.

7. Choose a Neighborhood

Some neighborhoods hold onto their value more than others during a housing downturn. Work with a knowledgeable real estate agent to find a neighborhood that meets your needs – somewhere you will be happy as well as feel safe that home values are stable or rising.

8. Make a Reasonable Offer

If you love a house and don’t want to lose it, don’t make a low-ball offer. Some sellers are willing to negotiate and others are not. A trustworthy real estate agent can walk you through the process to make sure you are dealt with fairly.

9. Have a Home Inspection

Never buy a home without having it inspected. Not only are you looking for serious flaws in the home, but you can learn a lot about home maintenance and what to expect in terms of repairing or replacing systems and appliances as an owner.

10. Finalize the Details

After the contract has been signed, make sure to stay in constant touch with your real estate agent and your lender to be sure your financing is taken care of along with all insurance needs. A good real estate agent will have a checklist to make sure everything is accomplished in time for settlement.

Bottom Line

Buying your first home can be an exhilarating experience, provided you do some research, stay within a comfortable budget and work with reputable professionals who will guide you through the process.


Protect Your Home While On Vacation

Protect Your Home While on Vacation In the midst of the summer vacation season, it’s often easy to forget protecting your home while you’re away, since getting packed and making sure you have what you need when you reach your destination are usually the things most prevalent in your mind.

We’ve created a checklist for you to use to better protect your home while you’re off enjoying yourself. Follow these tips to have a more worry-free vacation this year.

1. If you don’t already have them, install good deadbolt locks on doors. It’s true that an intruder who really wants to get into your house probably can find a way, but most burglaries are crimes of opportunity committed by amateurs. This means the more difficult you make it for someone to enter your house, the more likely it is a burglar will not make the attempt—or at least that an alert neighbor will see or hear the burglar.

2. If a neighbor will not be picking up the mail and newspapers daily, stop the mail and cancel the newspaper. Never tell the newspaper carrier you will be gone. Cancel the paper rather than entering a “vacation stop” for extended (more than two weeks) absences.

3. Install motion detector lights on the outside of your home. Use automatic timers on inside lights and photoelectric switches on outside lights. A week or two before you leave, set your timers so you can establish a pattern while you are still home. There are even timers available that will vary the on/off times. Occasionally have a radio or TV turned on.

4. Don’t leave valuables where they can be easily seen from a window. You can improve window security by drilling a hole from front to back where the top and bottom windows overlap and installing a long nail in the hole. Most new windows installed in the past 10 years have additional security locks that won’t allow the window to go up more than a couple of inches.

5. Leave your drapes in the normal position. Have a neighbor close them at night and open them at daylight, or use sheers. Sheers help to obscure the view into the house without making it obvious, as drapes would, that no one is home.

6. Put at least two lights and a radio on automatic timers.

7. Leave the bathroom light on with the door ajar to add to the impression that someone may be home.

8. Close and lock your garage doors to prevent someone from stealing the contents of the garage. Consider putting a padlock in the track of overhead garage doors or insert a large stove bolt through one of the side track holes to prevent the door from being slid open..

9. Cover your garage windows to prevent anyone from seeing the contents of your garage and whether your car is at home.

10. Check your homeowner’s insurance policy. Does it provide theft coverage while you’re staying in hotels and motels? It should.

11. Don’t let your travel plans be widely known. Try to arrange for a house-sitter, but if you can’t, provide your immediate neighbors with a recipe card with the information shown on page 3 and ask a trusted neighbor to keep this information private. Don’t publish the fact that you’re on vacation on Facebook, Twitter, or any of the other social networking sites. This is just telling burglars you are away!

12. At work, request office staff to be cautious when answering your phone calls. Transfer business calls to another employee or have callers told that you will be out of the office until whatever date you are to return. No information should be given out about why you are not in the office.

13. Make arrangements for the care of your pets.

14. Remind your neighbors to call 911 if they see anything suspicious around your home. Keep a list of valuables with serial numbers, or photographs of unique items, in a safe place.

15. Keep trees and shrubs around windows and doors well-trimmed to avoid giving burglars protection from public view.

16. Video equipment, TVs, stereos, gun collections, etc. should be stored in basements, closets, on the second floor, or left with a friend or neighbor. Equipping a storage closet with a good deadbolt lock makes a safe storage area too.

17. Upon return, if there are signs of a burglary such as a broken window pane or forced door, call 911 immediately. Do not take the chance of confronting a burglar inside.

Enjoy your vacation this year, knowing you have done all you can to protect your home while you’re away.

Home Security, Basic Tips and Advice

Now that summer is just around the corner, we all need to start thinking about securing our home, especially when on vacation. Here are a few basic tips for helping you keep your home secure.

Always Lock Doors and Windows

It sounds simple, but it’s very easy to leave doors and windows unlocked, especially if you are just slipping out to the shop for a few minutes. Unfortionately, this provides a classic opportunity for thieves.

Most burglaries are a result of a door or window being left open or unlocked. If your property doesn’t feature good locks, you can purchase high quality locks from any do-it-yourself store near you. Not only will this make your home more secure, it will also act as a strong deterrent as high quality locks send out strong signals that you are taking your home security seriously.

Don’t Leave Keys In View

Make sure you do your best to keep your keys out of sight, especially from unwanted individuals. If you have a key rack positioned near your front door, try moving it out the way. Some burglars gain entry by ‘fishing’ your keys off the rack. You also need to make sure you don’t have any keys left outside in hidden locations. Some people like to leave a spare key outside. Not only is this convenient for you, it’s also very convenient for anyone who wants to get into your home.

Think of Some Deterrents

There are ways to give the impression to potential intruders you’re still at home when you’re away overnight such as using timers for lights and radios. Also security lighting and visible burglar alarms are likely to put off any thieves as there will be more chance of them getting caught. It’s important if you do have security lighting, that it is placed in appropriate areas such as doorways and access points to the house.

Also, having a dog can be a good deterrent for burglars, especially if your pet does not welcome visitors. Potential burglars will not proceed to try and get into the house if they feel any attention will be drawn to them. In addition, you should close your curtains at night so burglars cannot see any valuable goods.

Most insurance companies will offer you additional things you can do to lower your risk of a burglary. After all, they want your home to be as secure as possible… they insure it.

Some Final Tips

To make you feel safer, if you have a solid door, you could get a ‘spy hole’ installed in your door, similar to what hotel rooms have, so you can see who is approaching the front of your house. Also, you could get a chain fitted to your lock so even if the intruder was able to get the door open, the chain would prevent them from forcing their way through. Furthermore, remove any garden tools or equipment lying around that could be used by burglars to break into your home, and check your home’s surroundings for anything that may help conceal a burglar.

It may sound far-fetched but shrubbery or bushes you have around your house are helpful for intruders to hide, so perhaps consider changing your home’s garden exterior to prevent this from happening. Also, reach out to the community and discover if you have any neighbourhood watch schemes or start one up yourself.

With summer vacations coming up, start thinking and planning now, and decide ahead of time if you need to make any adjustments to your home to make it more secure, especially while you’re away.