The following article is a guest post by Cherie Rodriguez A crafty mom, Cherie shares her tips with other DIY moms. She loves jogging along the beach and playing catch with Dusty the family dog and hanging out with her 2-year-old, Greta and 6-year-old, Travis.
There’s no place like a vacation home, right? It’s where you can get away from it all, maybe sink into a favorite chair and relax in front of a big-screen TV, listen to music or just enjoy the quiet. As much as you value your slice of paradise, is it as well protected as it could be? Second homes are prime targets for thieves who scour neighborhoods for rental and vacation homes because they have lower risks of running into people, according to U.S. News & World Report.
A wireless home security or video surveillance system not only serves as a deterrent to thieves, but it also alerts law enforcement and the property owner, and video surveillance creates a potential record of trespassers. An added benefit of having home security is lower rates on your homeowners policy, which offsets the monthly fee to the security company that monitors your alarm 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Insurance discounts vary by insurance company and by sophistication of the security system, according to Insurance.com, so check with your agent.
Post warning signs that your place is being monitored. If a potential burglar knows that your home has a security system, he is more likely to look for one in your neighborhood without one.
Keep It Occupied
Vacation home rental expert and blogger Christine Karpinski tells the Los Angeles Times that "robbers are a lazy bunch." They don't want to work too hard to get into your property, so the more hurdles you create, the harder they have to work. Hire a caretaker to live in your second home while you’re away. If you live in a neighborhood with multiple second homes, go in with a few neighbors and share caretaker service expenses. Get to know the year-round locals and leave your contact number with trusted neighbors. Second-home owners in popular destinations such as The Hamptons, Kiawah Island in South Carolina, and Aspen, Colo., will find a number of companies that offer "absentee owner programs" that regularly monitor your property—and they'll prepare it for your arrival. Some services will stock your refrigerator with food and beverages for the week, make the beds with fresh linens, and heat or cool the house so it is ready for your arrival.
Light It Up
Nothing says “Welcome!” to a thief more than dark windows and doors, notes U.S. News & World Report, which recommends a putting interior and exterior lights on timers and placing motion detector lights in the front and back of the home’s exterior. The goal is to make your place look lived in—all the time. If you plan to be away for an extended period, make arrangements to have the timers changed as daylight becomes shorter or longer, depending on the season.
Keep It Tidy
Unkempt landscaping can signal to a burglar that no one’s home. Even a tree limb could give a thief easy access to your dwelling, notes State Farm. If your home is in a condominium association, your homeowner fees likely include exterior yard maintenance. If you hire a company for yard service while you are away, check in with your neighbor or property manager to ensure the service is being done, or ask the vendor to send you time-stamped before-and-after photos of landscape maintenance.
Be sure to stop deliveries and ask a neighbor to keep an eye out for newspapers, flyers, take-out menus, phone books and things left on the doorstep. MoneyCrashers.com proposes “strategic landscaping” in hopes of deterring crime. Plant thorny rose bushes, for example, under windows and use loose stones or gravel, which make lots of noise under foot.
Use Common Sense
Lock doors and windows. Close blinds and drapes. Keep valuables out of sight, and make sure they are insured for their replacement values. Create a house-closing checklist for you and your guests that include a room-by-room guide for securing the property.
Keep your travels to yourself and your inner circle of friends and family, which does not include the 400+ friends you've amassed on social media. If you have children who live on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, discourage them from posting details about their travels, and encourage them to use common sense.
Sometimes the best advice is the most basic.
About the author: The above Real Estate information on protecting your vacation home was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 508-435-5356. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 25+ Years.
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