You did it! You successfully navigated the web of paperwork, finances and inspections, and came out with the keys to your new home. Congratulations—you've overcome the hardest feat. But, responsible home ownership doesn’t stop there.
Among the move-in boxes and furnishing decisions, you’ll also want to take the necessary steps to protect your dream home. Below are five tips for new homeowners to keep their homes and families secure.
1. Get to Know Your Surroundings
When you're new to a neighborhood, it's hard to pinpoint unusual activity because you don't yet know what's normal. Spend some time familiarizing yourself with the lay of the land and observing daily life on your street. What kinds of vehicles do neighbors drive? Is it common to see people out at night and early in the morning? How common are delivery trucks, move-in vans, construction crews, service provider visits, etc.?
The more aware you are of what's “typical,” the better prepared you'll be to spot something out of the ordinary or suspicious.
2. Meet Your Neighbors
Your neighbors can be your biggest watchdogs to prevent intrusion or theft. Introduce yourself and get to know one another so that they’ll feel comfortable alerting you if something appears off, or contacting the police on your behalf if needed. Find out if there is a neighborhood watch program, and learn how to get involved.
In addition, trusted neighbors are great for picking up mail or doing yard work if you go on vacation. This makes it seem like you’re home, even when you’re not, which can deter burglars.
3. Change Your Locks
You don't know who, or how many people, the past homeowner gave keys to. Don't chance it; change your locks upon moving in to prevent these people from having easy access to your home. Also, remember to reconfigure your garage door code.
4. Install a Home Security System
As a new homeowner, you've likely gotten mail or advertisements prompting you to install a home security system. Take them seriously. A home security system notifies you and authorities if suspicious activity occurs, ensuring your home is secure whether you’re home or away. Talk with a trusted security provider to build a customized plan for your needs, lifestyle and budget.
Added bonus: security system installation often qualifies you for a discount on your homeowners insurance.
5. Perform Necessary Maintenance
Inspect your property to make sure everything works as it should. Check outside lights, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, window locks, etc. These features all play a part of your family’s ongoing wellbeing and safety. Fix or replace anything that is broken or not functioning properly.
You'll also want to take a critical eye to the past owner’s landscaping decisions. Lots of shrubbery and bushes—especially close to windows—and dark areas, provide excellent hiding spots for intruders. Clean up your yard as necessary upon moving in.