Keeping A Vacant Home Secure

A local Realtor is showing property to investors from out of the area. Two of the homes are in midtown and vacant, which for an investor is a perfect buy for rental property. The agent walks to the front door and opens the lock box like usual but instead of a key there is a garage code to get into the house. The agent then puts the code in the electronic keypad and they all stand there watching the door rise slowly. To their surprise there are 3 cats in the garage with food and water. No big deal really but it is a little alarming. The agent’s gut feeling is to check the security of the home himself before taking his clients in because remember the home is supposed to be vacant. As the agent enters the home he notices a few empty soda cans and some food wrappers along with a new trail of ants flooding to the soda cans. He begins to turn on lights in the bathrooms, bedrooms and hallway and notice other minor items like; toilets not flushed, a pair of dirty socks and a bag of cat food. The agent gives his clients the “all clear” to enter the property and as they look around the agent proceeds to call the listing agent to notify of what they have found. The listing agent is quite surprised by their findings so she decides to make a visit to the property herself.

When the listing agent arrives not only does she see all the soda cans, wrappers and cats but she also finds that the back bedroom window has been tampered with. She calls a handyman to secure the window and cleans up the mess plus calls animal control to come and get the cats. She goes by the next day to check on the property but makes sure she takes a local Sheriffs Deputy with her. As they enter the home they hear a person snoring on the back room. As they awaken the startled intruder, the Deputy begins to question him about why he is there and how he got in. The man has been homeless for 2 weeks and found the home vacant so he decided to make it his own. When he heard people opening the garage door to show the home he would escape out the back window and hide in the crawl space. Needless to say a local shelter took in the man and the investor purchased the home. This listing agent got lucky that all the man was doing was hanging out with his cats.

The best way to keep or reduce these incidents happening to your vacant home is to:

1. If it’s in your budget, have a professional security monitoring service installed on the house such as ADT.  These systems often have promotional setup deals for new customers and monthly service fee between $35-$50. Most of the time, exterior signs and stickers from these companies are enough to deter most individuals looking to break into the home.

2. If a professional security monitoring service is out of your budget, consider securing ALL windows and doors with extra security such as magnetic alarms. They’re inexpensive and sound a very high-pitch alarm if a window or door is opened.  Remotes are available with some systems for use by you or your REALTOR when entering the home.

3. Ask your agent or neighbor to check on the home daily especially if you are out of town.

4. Call local law enforcement and see if they can do a drive by daily for the neighborhood.

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