According to the FBI, more than one million burglaries are committed in the United States each year, with victims suffering an estimated $3 billion in combined property losses.1 Fortunately, there are some proven tactics you can use to decrease your likelihood of a home invasion.
Most burglars won’t go to extreme lengths to enter a residence. They are looking for easy access with minimal risk. A monitored security system can be an effective deterrent—homes without one are 300% more likely to be burglarized—but it isn’t the only way to protect your property.2 The strategies below can help to maximize your home’s security and minimize your chances of being targeted by intruders.
Thinking about listing your home? We have some additional recommendations for you. Contact us to find out the procedures we use to keep our clients and their property safe and secure during the buying and selling process.
1. Check Your Doors and Windows
According to home security company ADT, the most common entry point for a burglar is an unlocked front door (34%) followed by a first-floor window (23%) or back door (22%).3 So securing these points of entry is essential.
- Evaluate the condition of your doors and locks.
A steel door is generally considered the strongest, but many homeowners prefer the look of wood. Whatever material you choose, make sure it has a solid core and pair it with a Grade 1 or 2 deadbolt lock with a reinforced strike plate.4
- Add window locks and security film.
Aftermarket window locks are an easy and inexpensive upgrade that can provide an additional layer of protection for your home. Choose a lock that is compatible with your window frame material and a style that is appropriate for the window type. And consider using a specialty film on windows that are adjacent to a door. Security film holds shattered glass in place, making the windows more difficult to penetrate.5
2. Landscape for Security
When it comes to outdoor landscaping, many of us think about maintenance and curb appeal. But the choices we make can impact our home’s security, as well. Thieves target homes that they can enter and exit without being detected. Here are a few tweaks that can make your property less appealing to potential intruders.
- Increase visibility from the street.
A privacy hedge may keep out nosy neighbors, but it can also welcome thieves—so trim overgrown trees and shrubs that obstruct the view of your property. According to police officers, they offer an ideal environment for criminals to hide.6
- Place thorny bushes and noisy gravel below windows.
Don’t eliminate shrubbery altogether, though. Certain hedges can actually offer a deterrent to robbers. Plant thorny rose bushes or sharp-leaved holly beneath your first-story windows for both beauty and protection. Add some loose gravel that crunches when disturbed.
3. Light Your Exterior
When it’s dark outside, criminals don’t need to rely on overgrown shrubbery to hide. Luckily, a well-designed outdoor lighting system can make your home both safer and more attractive.
- Install landscape lighting.
Eliminate pockets of darkness around your yard and home’s perimeter with strategically placed outdoor lights. Use a combination of flood, spot, well, and pathway lights to add interest and highlight natural and architectural details.
- Use motion-activated security lights to startle intruders.
The soft glow of landscape lighting isn’t always enough to dissuade a determined intruder. But a motion-activated security light may stop him in his tracks. And if you choose a Wi-Fi connected smart version, you can receive notifications on your phone when there’s movement on your property.
4. Make It Look Like You’re Home
Motion-activated lights aren’t the only way to make an intruder think you’re at home. New technology has made it increasingly possible to monitor your home while you’re away. This is especially important since most burglaries take place on weekdays between 10 am and 3 pm, when many of us are at work or school.2
- Turn on your TV and leave a car in the driveway.
A survey of convicted burglars revealed that the majority avoid breaking into homes if they can hear a television or if there’s a vehicle parked in the driveway.7 If you’re away from home, try connecting your TV to a timer or smart plug. And when you travel, leave your car out or ask a neighbor to park theirs in your driveway.
- Install a video doorbell.
In that same survey, every respondent said they would knock or ring the doorbell before breaking into a home. A video doorbell not only alerts you to the presence of a visitor, it also enables you to see, hear, and talk with them remotely from your smartphone—so they’ll never know you’re gone.
5. Keep Valuables Out of Sight
Few home invasions are conducted by criminal masterminds. In fact, a survey of convicted offenders found that only 12% planned their robberies in advance, while the majority acted spontaneously.8 That’s one of the reasons security experts caution against placing valuables where they are visible from the outside.9
- Check sightlines from your doors and windows.
Don’t tempt robbers with a clear view of the most commonly stolen items, which are cash (think purses and wallets), jewelry, electronics, firearms, and drugs (both illegal and prescription).6 Take a walk around your property to make sure none of these items are easily visible.
- Secure valuables in a safe.
Consider the possessions that are on display inside your home, as well. It’s always a good idea to lock up firearms, sensitive documents, and expensive or irreplaceable items when you have housekeepers or other service providers on your property.
6. Highlight Your Security Measures
While it’s prudent to hide your valuables, it’s equally important to advertise your home’s security features. In surveys, convicted burglars admit to avoiding homes with obvious protective measures in place.7,8
- Install outdoor cameras.
Security cameras are the most common home protection device and for good reason.10 Not only do they help prevent crime (burglars are known to avoid them), they can offer peace of mind for homeowners who want to sneak a peek at their property while away.11 And if you do experience a break-in, security camera footage can help police identify your intruder.
- Post warning signs.
Security system placards and beware-of-dog signs are also shown to be effective deterrents.8 Of course, you should back up your threats with a noisy alarm and loud barking dog for maximum impact.
7. Limit What You Share on Social Media
Social media platforms can be a great way to stay connected with friends and family, but it’s easy to reveal more than you’ve intended. Be thoughtful about what you’re posting—and who has access.
- Delay posting photos or travel updates.
It can be tempting to upload a concert selfie or pictures from your beach vacation. But these types of photos scream: “My house is unoccupied!” Try to wait until you’ve returned home to share the photos on social media.
- Set privacy restrictions on your accounts.
Think twice about connecting with strangers or casual acquaintances on social media. If you enjoy sharing family updates and personal photos, it’s safer to limit your followers to those you truly know and trust.
YOUR HOME IS SAFE WITH US
We take home security seriously. That’s why we have screening procedures in place to keep our clients and their homes safe when they are for sale. We also remind our buyers to change the locks before they move into their new homes and provide referrals to locksmiths and home security companies that can help. To learn more about our procedures and how you can stay safe during the buying and selling process, contact us to schedule a free consultation!
- Federal Bureau of Investigation –
- Bankrate –
- ADT –
- National Crime Prevention Council –
- SafeWise –
- Forbes –
- KGW News –
- Science Daily –
- Security.org –
- SafeWise –
- The Guardian –
Selling your home when you still need to shop for a new one can feel daunting to even the most seasoned homeowner––especially when the demand for new homes keeps rising, but the supply feels like it’s dwindling.¹ You’re not alone either if you’re already feeling drained by the complex logistics of trying to sell and buy a new home all at once.
Searching for a new home can be exciting, but many homebuyers admit that it can also be stressful, especially if you live in an unpredictable market with plenty of competitors. Unfortunately, waiting out a competitive housing market isn’t always the best idea either since listings are expected to remain limited in the most coveted neighborhoods for some time.²
That doesn’t mean, though, that you should just throw up your hands and give up on moving altogether. In fact, as a current homeowner, you could be in a better position than most to capitalize on a seller’s market and make a smooth transition from your old home to a new one.
We can help you prepare for the road ahead and answer any questions you have about the real estate market. For example, here are some of the most frequent concerns we hear from clients who are trying to buy and sell at the same time.
“WHAT WILL I DO IF I SELL MY HOUSE BEFORE I CAN BUY A NEW ONE?”
This is an understandable concern for many sellers since the competitive real estate market makes it tough to plan ahead and predict when you’ll be able to move into your next home. But chances are, you will still have plenty of options if you do sell your home quickly. It may just take some creativity and compromise.
Here are some ideas to make sure you’re in the best possible position when you decide to list your home:
Tip #1: Flex your muscles as a seller.
In a competitive market, buyers may be willing to make significant concessions in order to get the home they want. In some cases, a buyer may agree to a rent-back clause that allows the seller to continue living in the home after closing for a set period of time and negotiated fee.
This can be a great option for sellers who need to tap into their home equity for a downpayment or who aren’t logistically ready to move into their next home. However, many lenders limit the duration of a rent-back to 60 days, and there are liability issues to consider before entering into an agreement. A contract and security deposit should be in place in case of any property damage or unexpected repairs that may be needed during the rent-back period.³
Tip #2: Open your mind to short-term housing options.
While it can be a hassle to move out of your old home before you’re ready to move into your new one, it’s a common scenario. If you’re lucky enough to have family or generous friends who offer to take you in, that may be ideal. If not, you’ll need to find temporary housing. Check out furnished apartments, vacation rentals and month-to-month leases. If space is an issue, consider putting some of your furniture and possessions in storage.
You may even find that a short-term rental arrangement can offer you an opportunity to get to know your new neighborhood better—and lead to a more informed decision about your upcoming purchase.
Tip #3: Embrace the idea of selling now and buying later.
Instead of stressing about timing your home sale and purchase perfectly, consider making a plan to focus on one at a time. Selling before you’re ready to buy your next home can offer a lot of advantages.
For one, you’ll have cash on hand from the sale of your current home. This will put you in a much better position when it comes to buying your next home. From budgeting to mortgage approval to submitting a competitive offer, cash is king. And by focusing on one step at a time, you can alleviate some of the pressure and uncertainty.
“WHAT IF I GET STUCK WITH TWO MORTGAGES AT THE SAME TIME?”
This is one of the most common concerns that we hear from buyers who are selling a home while shopping for a new one, and it’s realistic to expect at least some overlap in mortgages. To make sure you don’t get into a situation where you are carrying dual mortgages for longer than you can afford, examine your budget and calculate the maximum number of months you can afford to pay both.⁴
If you simply can’t afford to carry both mortgages at once, then selling before you buy may be your best option. (See Tip #3 above.) But if you have some flexibility in your budget, it is possible to manage both a home sale and purchase simultaneously. Here are some steps you can take to help streamline the process:
Tip #4: As you get ready to sell, simplify.
You can condense your sales timeline if you only focus on the home renovations and tasks that matter most for selling your home quickly. For example, clean and declutter all of your common areas, refresh your outdoor paint and curb appeal, and fix any outstanding maintenance issues as quickly as possible.
But don’t drain unnecessary time and money into pricey renovations and major home projects that could quickly bog you down for an unpredictable amount of time. We can advise you on the repairs and upgrades that are worth your time and investment.
Tip #5: Prep your paperwork.
You’ll also save valuable time by filing as much paperwork as possible early in the process. For example, if you know you’ll need a mortgage to buy your next home, get pre-approved right away so that you can shorten the amount of time it takes to process your loan.
Similarly, set your home sale up for a fast and smooth transition by pulling together any relevant documentation about your current home, including appliance warranties, renovation permits, and repair records. That way, you’re ready to provide quick answers to buyers’ questions should they arise.
Tip #6: Ask us about other contingencies that can be included in your contracts.
Part of our job as agents is to negotiate on your behalf and help you win favorable terms. For example, it’s possible to add a contingency to your purchase offer that lets you cancel the contract if you haven’t sold your previous home.
This tactic could backfire, though, if you’re competing with other buyers. We can discuss the pros and cons of these types of tactics and what’s realistic given the current market dynamics.
“WHAT IF I MESS UP MY TIMING OR BURN OUT FROM ALL THE STRESS?”
When you’re in the pressure cooker of a home sale or have been shopping for a home for a while in a competitive market, it’s easy to get carried away by stress and emotions. To make sure you’re in the right headspace for your homebuying and selling journey, take the time to slow down, breathe and delegate as much as possible. In addition:
Tip #7: Relax and accept that compromise is inevitable
Rather than worry about getting every detail right with your housing search and home sale, trust that things will work out eventually––even if it doesn’t look like your Plan A or even your Plan B or Plan C. Perfecting every detail with your home decor or timing your home sale perfectly isn’t necessary for a successful home sale and compromise will almost always be necessary. Luckily, if you’ve got a good team of professionals, you can relax knowing that others have your back and are monitoring the details behind the scenes.
Tip #8: Don’t worry too much if your path is straying from convention
Remember that rules-of-thumb and home-buying trends are just that: they are estimates, not facts. So if your home search or sale isn’t going exactly like your neighbor’s, it doesn’t mean that you are doomed to fail.
It’s possible, for example, that seasonality trends may affect sales in your neighborhood. So a delayed sale in the summer or fall could affect your journey––but not necessarily. According to the National Association of Realtors, the housing market tends to be more competitive during the summer and less competitive during the winter.⁵ But it’s not a hard and fast rule, and every real estate transaction is different. That’s why it’s important to talk to a local agent about your specific situation.
Tip #9: Enlist help early.
Which leads us to our final tip: If possible, call us early in the process. We’ll not only provide you with key guidance on what you should do ahead of time to prepare your current home for sale, we’ll also help you narrow down your list of must-haves and wants for your next one. That way, you’ll be prepared to act quickly and confidently when it’s time to list your house or make an offer on a new one.
It’s our job to guide you and advocate on your behalf. So don’t be afraid to lean on us throughout the process. We’re here to ease your burden and make your move as seamless and stress-free as possible.
BOTTOMLINE: COLLABORATE WITH A REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONAL TO GET TAILORED ADVICE THAT WORKS FOR YOU
Buying and selling a home at the same time is challenging. But it doesn’t have to be a nightmare, and it can even be fun. The key is to educate yourself about the market and prepare yourself for multiple scenarios. One of the best and easiest ways to do so is to partner with a knowledgeable and trustworthy agent.
A good agent will not only help you evaluate your situation, we will also provide you with honest and individually tailored advice that addresses your unique needs and challenges. Depending on your circumstances, now may be a great time to sell your home and buy a new one. But a thorough assessment may instead show you that you’re better off pausing your search for a while longer.
Contact us for a free consultation so that we can help you review your options and decide the best way forward.
- Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, FEDS Notes – https://www.federalreserve.gov/econres/notes/feds-notes/housing-market-tightness-during-covid-19-increased-demand-or-reduced-supply-20210708.htm
- Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, FRED Economic Data – https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MSPUS
- Realtor.com – https://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/what-is-a-rent-back-agreement/
- Bankrate.com – https://www.bankrate.com/real-estate/sell-your-house-while-buying-another/
- National Association of REALTORS – https://www.nar.realtor/blogs/economists-outlook/seasonality-in-the-housing-market
In July, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell below 3% for the first time in history.1 And while many Americans have rushed to take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity, others question the hype. Are today’s rates truly a bargain?
While average mortgage rates have drifted between 4% and 5% in recent years, they haven’t always been so low. Freddie Mac began tracking 30-year mortgage rates in 1971. At that time, the national average was 7.31%.2 As the rate of inflation started to rise in the mid-1970s, mortgage rates surged. It’s hard to imagine now, but the average U.S. mortgage rate reached a high of 18.63% in 1981.3
Fortunately for home buyers, inflation normalized by October 1982, which sent mortgage rates on a downward trajectory that would bring them as low as 3.31% in 2012.3 Since 2012, 30-year fixed rates have risen modestly, with the daily average climbing as high as 4.94% in 2018.4
So what’s causing today’s rates to sink to unprecedented lows? Economic uncertainty.
Mortgage rates generally follow bond yields, because the majority of U.S. mortgages are packaged together and sold as bonds. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to dampen the economy and inject volatility into the stock market, a growing number of investors are shifting their money into low-risk bonds. Increased demand has driven bond yields—and mortgage rates—down.5