So you’ve decided to buy a house, you’ve got your deposit and it’s time to start looking round. But how do you ensure the biggest purchase you will ever make is the right one and how do you keep it safe? Safety and security factors should always be on top of the list. There is always an element of risk when it comes to buying property, but you can take some steps to minimise that risk. You can start thinking of ways to secure your new home before you’ve even brought it! We’ve made a guide on how to buy a house safely and keep it secure once you’ve moved in.
Looking for a New House
When looking for a new house, you have to consider the area you want to live in. Along with the usual school catchments, local amenities and local transport links, you should also ask yourself, is it safe? What’s the crime rate like? Is it a family road? Is it somewhere for unsavoury people to hang out? It is recommended that you do as much research as possible before putting an offer in.
- Check the crime stats for the local area. You can view these on the Police website and UK Crime stats website. With these you can get a picture of the general picture of crime in the area. You may not be able to get specific details, but it will help you compare one neighbourhood to another.
- Visit the area at different times of the day to make sure you’re happy. Visiting after dark will give you a good insight into what goes on around the neighbourhood at night. Look for signs of anti-social behaviour and check to see if there is adequate street lighting for you to feel safe.
- If possible, speak to the neighbours and ask about previous crimes and the general atmosphere of the area.
- When you are looking around potential houses take a note of what state the doors and windows are in. These can be replaced when you move, but it will cost you, so a house with a solid door and newish windows will be easier to secure.
- If the house has a gravel driveway then you’ve already got one security measure in place, as the noise walking on gravel makes can potentially deter a burglar, or alert you to the fact someone is on your property.
Before You Move
So you’ve had your offer accepted on the house of your dreams and now are counting down the days until you move. You should use this time to get started on packing as well as getting your security measures sorted.
- Make sure to check out the security arrangements of the house you are thinking of buying, take notes if possible.
- If you know that the current owners will be leaving a security alarm/system then make sure you arrange for them to leave the details; manufacture, password and when it was installed etc.
- If you are buying a house then you cannot exchange contracts without having home insurance. But it’s best to read your policy carefully to see what you’re covered for and what excess you would have to pay if the worst was to happen.
- If you know the day you are completing and getting the keys, then why not book a locksmith in advance? They will not only change the locks, but give you a free home security check as well to help you feel secure in your new home.
The Day of the Move
The day has finally arrived! All your possessions are in boxes waiting to be moved to your new home. It’s a busy and stressful day, so it’s easy to forget the security basics. Take a look at our points to remind you what to do and what not to do security wise on the day you move.
- The MOST important thing you can do the day you move is to call a professional locksmith, such as Keytek Locksmiths, to change the locks on your windows and doors. You have no idea how many copies of the old key are out there, so it’s important to get them changed. Also your insurance policy may be invalid if the locks are not changed. So the bottom line is… GET THEM CHANGED! Learn more about getting your locks changed here.
- You will also need to check the state of the garage or shed lock. If you are going to be storing valuable items in there, then you need to put on new locks and make sure that they are secure.
- Keep an eye on your stuff when moving, try and move it directly into the house without leaving it in a van on the street, in the garden or on the pavement. It might be tempting to grab a cup of tea in your new home before bringing in all the boxes, but it would be too easy for a thief to snatch them from a van when no one is looking.
- Don’t make it obvious that you’ve just moved in. Your first job should be to hang blinds or curtains. Try not to leave boxes in open view and let the neighbours know you’ve moved in as soon as possible. If you are not sleeping at your house for the first night, then keep all boxes out of sight and think about giving the impression that someone is staying there.
- If the previous owners had a security system/alarm then you need to change the code or password immediately. If you’re not sure about the reliability of the system the old owners left then you should buy a new one, or contact a professional alarm company to test the system and reset passwords.
After you’ve Moved
Once you’ve changed the locks and the alarm code, you may want to start thinking about making your new house as secure as possible. This includes adding things to the inside and outside of your new home.
- Install outdoor lights, have these illuminating high risk areas of your home, including the shed, garage or gate door.
- Get yourself in to a new routine of checking that all the doors and windows of your new house are locked.
- Add additional door security, such as door chains, spy hole or letterbox guard. Click here to read about additional security measures.
- Take a look at the perimeter of your house, what state are the fences, walls or hedges in? If you see any weak points then make sure you secure them by repairing or replacing fence panels, broken walls or thin hedges.
- You may also want to give the impression that you are home, even when you’re not. You can do this quite simply by purchasing lamp timers. These switch your lamps on when you are not home, putting off any potential burglars.
Changing the Locks when you Move House
Having your locks changed when you move is a basic security measure that is advised by most insurance companies. However a whopping 74% of people do not change the locks when they move house! If an intruder gains entry to your home with a key then most home insurance policies won’t pay out, as there needs to be a clear sign of a breaking and entering for you to make a valid claim. You may also want to check what your insurance policy says about the type of locks you use for your home. Most insurers require you to have ‘British Standard’ locks installed; British Standard uses a kitemark to indicate that the lock has been certified by the British Standard Institution. A British Standard is the minimum standard that a product such as a cylinder must be manufactured in accordance with before it is recognise by the relevant authorities as a quality product. If you have a lock fitted that does not meet the standard required by your insurer then you will not get a pay-out.
However, when you move you need to think about more than the insurance implications. You could be leaving yourself and your family vulnerable as you don’t know who else has a key to your house. Even if the previous owners have assured you that all the keys have been left, they may have forgotten a set, or not told you about a lost set. It’s better to be safe than sorry, get your locks changed!
Additional Security Measures
You can protect your home with more than just new locks; there are several measures you can take to keep your new home secure including things that go inside and outside your new house.
The first and easiest thing you can do is to leave your valuables out of sight. Even when you first move and there are thing everywhere, make sure things like laptops, tablets and jewellery are not visible from the windows. Install blinds as quickly as possible to give yourself and your items some privacy.
Installing outdoor security lights is another great way to secure your home. As most burglars like the cover of darkness, having motion sensor lights that shine brightly when they are triggered could be enough to scare them away. Make sure your security lights are pointed towards the areas that a burglar will target; the shed, garage or gate.
As you are changing the locks anyway, you might want to spend a little bit more money on high security locks. Many people nowadays have uPVC doors with euro locks which are vulnerable to a break in technique called ‘Lock Snapping’. This is a common tactic used by burglars, but you can upgrade your lock to an ‘Anti-Snap’ one that is specifically designed to prevent this method of entry. You should purchase a lock that meets the TS007 3 star standard, such as ABS High Security Cylinders. Learn more about Lock Snapping here.
To specifically protect your front door you can install a door chain or letterbox guard. A door chain is a small chain attached to the door frame, which attaches to a track on the door. This will help prevent someone getting in even if the door is unlocked; however you have to be inside the house to make use of the chain. Used in conjunction with a British Standard lock, this gives you a good level of security. A letterbox guard protects you from an intruder who may use a ‘fishing’ technique used by burglars. Potential intruders will use the letter box and a long piece of metal to access keys that may have been left by the front door. Once they have them, they simply unlock the door and have access to your house. Learn more about additional home security here.
There is nothing that can make your house 100% secure; however by taking some simple measures you can deter thieves. You can start by looking for houses that have sturdy doors and windows or think about replacing them if they are warn or old. Once you’re in, it’s up to you how many security measures you put in place. Having the locks changed is the best thing you can do to keep your new home secure. Hiring a professional locksmith to fit these is the only way to be sure that your locks are insurance compliant, Keytek® offer a free home security check with every job we do, so if you book us in for the day you move we can appraise your home and advise on what you can do to keep the burglars away. Talk to the locksmith about anti-snapping locks and any other doors you need securing, such as a garage, gate or shed as our engineers carry a wide variety of locks on board. Learn more about home security here.