Barbara Brant's Blog
Keeping your home secure is a lot like maintaining a healthy lifestyle: If you prioritize it and develop good daily habits, then your chances of staying safe and healthy are vastly improved.
While there's no ironclad security strategy that's absolutely fail-proof -- especially when you factor in the element of human error -- the following security tips will help make your home a safer and more secure place for you and your family.
- Awareness is the key. Don't be lulled into a false sense of complacency. Although your sense of well-being depends, in part, on having an inner feeling of safety and security, it's still necessary to lock your doors, be aware of your surroundings, exercise a moderate amount of caution, and follow a few commonsense guidelines. Even if you're fortunate enough to live in a "safe neighborhood", there's still an element of unpredictability that should always be kept in mind. In reality, it's not that unusual for a nice neighborhood to be targeted by burglars. Granted, it doesn't happen very often, but it only takes one incident for your belongings (and peace of mind) to be stolen by intruders. As the old expression goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
- A barking dog can often be an effective burglar deterrent. Since most dogs have a natural inclination to bark at strangers and intrusive noises, having a dog in the family can be a valuable part of your overall home security program. Any kind of effective alarm system, which can include a barking dog, will instantly make your home a less desirable target for burglars, con artists, and other miscreants.
- Flood lights also help deter residential crime. While burglars may not necessarily have a clear-cut plan for breaking into your house, garage, or storage shed, you can be sure they do not want to be noticed, observed, or paid attention to in any way. Motion-activated flood lights or other types of alarms can be especially effective, since these devices trigger an immediate response to an intruder's presence.
- Home security systems are worth researching. People come up with a lot of excuses for dismissing the idea of installing a home security system. Some say they can't afford it, while others claim they're hopeless technophobes, and couldn't possibly figure out how to program or operate a security system. At the very least, it's a good idea to educate yourself about the available options, prices, and technical support. Once you've taken the first step, proceeding forward will feel a lot easier and less intimidating.
In a high competition market, you may be tempted to do whatever you can to entice the seller to accept your offer. Buyers write offer letters, provide large down payments, or waive the inspection. Sometimes, this strategy includes removing contingencies from your contract.
Beware. Removing contingencies can easily become a nightmare for you as a buyer. Certain contingencies should be kept no matter how much you think you should waive them for enticement.
The Home Inspection Contingency
This contingency is basically universally recommended by realtors everywhere. This contingency allows you to get a licensed home inspector who will check the property. The inspection typically should be done about 7 days from the time you sign the purchase agreement for the home.
Following the inspection, you as the buyer can request that the seller make certain repairs. The seller can either make the repairs or provide a counter offer. If you’re not satisfied or cannot reach an agreement, you can back out of the deal and still get your money back.
Without this contingency, you’ll never know what’s wrong with the home until you move in it. It’s a huge risk to take to move into a home without understanding all of its moving parts. Is the roof stable? Has the basement flooded? Will the appliances last? There are plenty of questions that you might have about a home that can be answered simply through an inspection.
This is an important contingency. Your offer on the property will depend on being able to get the financing you need to purchase the home. With this protection in place, in the event that you can’t get a loan, you’ll get your deposit on the home back. Be sure that the clause specifies the number of days that would be recommended by your lender to have the mortgage approved.
This could be the most important contingency of all. This protection could possibly save you thousands of dollars of a headache. Once an offer is accepted on a home, you’re far from done. The lender will typically order an appraisal. If the appraisal comes in lower than the offer you made on the home and agreed to pay, you may have some problems.
The lender will only lend you what the house is worth. If the appraisal comes in lower, you’ll need to make up for tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket. Make sure you have an appraisal contingency included in your contracts!
As you buy a home, remember how important contingencies can be in the process.
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