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10 Anti-Burglary Tips for Your Sellers

Source: NAR

After Christmas, many people put the empty boxes their expensive gifts came in out on the curb. What do you think that says to potential burglars? It screams, “I just got a brand-new TV! Come and rob me!”

That’s just one example of some unwise habits homeowners have. If those owners are sellers opening their doors to the public for showings, habits such as these put them in even greater danger. The above example is a good warning to give to your clients now, since we’re in the holiday season. But use it as a jumping-off point to have a deeper conversation about safety — and to show that your safety knowledge is an asset to sellers.

Consider using this checklist (you can request it as a customer handout on my website) during listing appointments to better prepare prospective sellers and show your value as a real estate professional. We spend a lot of time telling sellers how we’ll market their home, and while that is obviously important, we rarely address their true concern: how to keep their home safe while it’s open to the public. Touch on these 10 anti-burglary tips so your clients will know that you have their best interest at heart.

National Snapshot of Burglaries

A burglary is committed every 20 seconds, with nearly 1.6 million such crimes nationwide annually, according to the FBI’s 2015 Crime in the United States report. That’s down 7.8 percent from 2014. Total property crime, which includes arson, larceny theft, and motor vehicle theft, reached nearly 8 million instances in 2015, down 2.6 percent from 2014.

  1. Maintain your property. Especially in the wintertime, many people stay indoors and neglect issues such as peeling trim or an overgrown yard. But if the home looks unkempt, thieves may think it’s abandoned and, therefore, an easy target. Shoveling your walkways to clear them of snow and debris and removing holiday decorations and fallen tree branches in a timely manner will signal that the home is occupied.
  2. Know your neighbors. Many people don’t really know their neighbors; it’s more than just saying hi and being friendly. Invite them over to see your home before it goes on the market, and introduce them to the people they may see regularly stopping by during this time (especially your agent). Then they’ll know who is and isn’t supposed to be at your home and can better assess when there may be a threat while you’re gone.
  3. Assess your home’s vulnerability. Walk to the curb and face your house. Ask yourself, “How would I get in if I were locked out?” The first thing you think of, whether it’s the window with a broken lock or the door that won’t shut all the way, is exactly how a thief will get in. Think like a burglar, and then address the issues that come to mind.
  4. Respect the power of lighting. Criminals are cowards, and they don’t want to be seen. The house that is well-lit at night provides a deterrent because thieves don’t want the attention and the potential to be caught by witnesses. It’s wise to invest in tools that make nighttime light automation easy. That includes dusk-to-dawn adapters that go into existing light fixtures and motion detectors. But beware of leaving your exterior lights on at all times, which signifies the occupant is gone for an extended period of time.
  5. Use technology to make your home look occupied. In addition to lighting, smart-home technology has made it easier to make it appear like people are home, even when they’re not. Systems that remotely control lighting, music, and appliances such as a thermostat can help you achieve this. Though not considered smart-home tech, simple lamp timing devices available at hardware stores are also good for this purpose.
  6. Yes, it has to be said: Lock your doors. It’s amazing how many people think they live in a safe-enough neighborhood not to have to lock their doors when they leave. Some facts sellers should know: In 30 percent of burglaries, the criminals access the home through an unlocked door or window; 34 percent of burglars use the front door to get inside; and 22 percent use the back door, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report.
  7. Reinforce your locks. A good door lock is nothing without a solid frame. Invest in a solid door jam and strike plate first, and then invest in good locks. Know the difference between a single-cylinder and a double-cylinder deadbolt. Double-cylinder deadbolts are recommended because they require a key to get in and out. For safety and emergency escape purposes, you must leave the key in when you are home. But double-cylinder locks are against regulations in some places, so check with your local police department’s crime prevention office.
  8. Blare the sirens. Burglars are usually in and out in less than five minutes, and they know police can’t respond to an alarm that quickly. Their bigger concern is witnesses to their crime. For that reason, an external siren is invaluable, whether as part of a monitored security system or a DIY alarm. Even if you don’t have an alarm, it’s not a bad idea to invest in fake security signs and post them near doors.
  9. Consider surveillance cameras. The Los Angeles Police Department started a program encouraging homeowners to install a device called Ring, a doorbell with video surveillance capability that allows homeowners to view what’s outside their door on their smartphone, in a neighborhood that was a target for burglaries. After Ring was installed in hundreds of homes, the burglary rate dropped by 55 percent, according to reports. Most state and local regulations require posting a warning that people are being recorded. (But again, this can be effective even if you don’t actually have the cameras installed!)
  10. Mark your valuables and record details. Use invisible-ink pens or engravers to mark identifying information (driver’s license or state ID numbers) on items. Log serial numbers and take photos of your belongings. Check to see if your police department participates in the Operation Identification program. They will have stickers for you to place on doors or windows warning would-be thieves that your items are marked. These steps may prevent them from pawning or selling stolen items and can help you reclaim recovered belongings.

How Single Women Are Changing the Home Buying Market

 

Source: Megan Wild/RISMedia

While women in business schools and C-level suites may still hover on the low end when compared to their male counterparts, single women are currently proving to be one of the most important demographics in the home buying market.

The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) reported this year that — of the recent buyers who are single — single women accounted for 60 percent more home purchases than single men, across all age groups. They are actually the biggest home buying demographic after married couples.

This trend of single female home ownership is projected to increase in the coming years, thanks to a variety of factors. The gender-pay gap is decreasing, giving women increased financial independence. In some areas, their incomes are even increasing faster than their male counterparts’ are.

Generational Gap: Baby Boomers (Still) Own the Housing Market

Even though millennials show great promise in the real estate market, baby boomers are still the largest group of homebuyers. NAR found that single female baby boomers buy twice as many homes as single men do and account for one out of every five houses sold in their own age cohort.

Additionally, baby boomers are wealthier than any other generation. They are set to inherit $13 trillion of wealth in the next 20 years, and 70 percent of them believe that their current home will not be the best one that they live in. Contrary to cat lady stereotypes, a 2015 survey of over 1,000 single boomer females found that the overwhelming majority — 74 percent — are as confident and happy as they were at 35. These women are going to keep buying houses. Better, bigger houses, at that.

This trend affects the housing market as well as the interior design business. A company that targets single female baby boomers would be wise to consider their preferences. Boomers overwhelmingly live in the suburbs and have more space than other generations who camp out in smaller city apartments. Custom hardwood cabinetry, granite or marble countertops, and the ability to customize are all attractive options for single female baby boomers. This slice of consumer will not shy away from affordable luxury, like a glass-gated walk-in shower or custom bathtub.

Per Richard Endres, the owner of E.B. Endres, a residential home remodeling company, “Statistics show the number of single women homeowners is on the rise.  We have a number of single women homeowner clients so we are experiencing the statistic first-hand within our residential remodeling division.  There are subtle and pronounced differences in how women approach a remodeling project as opposed to men.”

According to Endres, when his company meets with a female client to start a remodeling project:

  • She knows her budget and she’s determined to stay within that budget.
  • She wants to reflect her personality and her own personal style through the project. Fortunately there are many design styles and options today to choose from.
  • She takes time to do her research and make final decisions.
  • She wants the best quality products and workmanship she can afford within her budget.
  • She is concerned for others. She focuses on comfort for herself as well as family and friends who will benefit from the remodeling project.

It’s clear from this industry insight that single women, regardless of age, are coming into their own in the housing market.

Millennial Focus: Young Adults Will Enter the Market                              

Millennials tend to live in smaller spaces located within major cities, close to their workplaces and social centers. Also, millennial women tend to get married later (if they plan to marry at all) and are well-educated. Their demand for housing will likely increase along with their salaries. It’s no secret that the U.S. marriage rate has hit record lows in recent years, which makes singles an even more important player in markets like housing, traditionally dominated by married couples.

Millennials also want to differentiate themselves from their parents — McMansion-style designs will not sell well within this age group. They tend to favor unique, stylish, but practical designs. This could mean an in-kitchen cocktail/bar space for entertaining complete with mason-jar cocktail mugs, or a shower with a top-mounted rainfall showerhead that adds a bit of comfort and class to a small space.

Location will be particularly important for this cohort. On the upper end of this market, a preference for apartments or condos in dense communities with vibrant street life is expected. Dense cities like San Francisco or Pittsburgh are currently enjoying downtown booms, with ever-increasing numbers of high-earning women moving in every year.

Future Plans: Housing Options Marketed Across Age Groups

As the housing market continues to change, it’ll be more important to market towards women across all age groups, not just millennials. No generation is homogeneous, and marketing that way is a recipe for failure. A variety of choices and designs targeted towards all women, and features like easy parking, safety and overall affordability, will have obvious appeal for all single females.

Single women are getting a lot of attention in the real estate industry — and for good reason. This group is clearly on the upswing both financially and demographically. The current U.S. economy favors the growth of home buying, despite rising prices in certain areas. Lenders are making it easier and easier to get a mortgage after tightening the screws during the financial crisis. Many are saying that the time to buy a home is now, since property prices in the U.S. overall are expected to increase in value following the housing bust.

All in all, in an increasingly fragmented market, single women are the most important demographic to watch out for. They are increasing in power, wealth and market share, and are a force to be reckoned with.