It is estimated that a home is burgled every 3 seconds in the UK, and vacant properties are a prime target. So whilst a vacant property might be easier to sell, ensure security alongside viewings can be difficult.
Property Aspects spoke to Michael Knibbs of SafeSite Security Solutions, to find out what actions will help secure your property whilst maintaining its appeal to sellers.
“The first action to take is to change the locks. If the property’s previously been rented out you’ve no guarantee who’s had access to keys in the past. Someone could take advantage when the property becomes empty.”
“Once changed, only pass the new keys to those involved with the property’s sale or security.”
“Next, recognise that your vacant property is at increased security risk the moment marketing begins. The following can all reveal the property is unoccupied:
- Estate agent boards
- Online listings
- Photographs inside and out”
These very things, which make RightMove and Zoopla convenient for buyers and sellers, also make things easy for anonymous criminals:
- Property photographs facilitate ‘casing’ the property for items of value, including fixtures in empty properties
- Floor plans show access points
- Google maps and Street View reveal road configuration, access and escape routes
Are You Prepared to Sell…Securely?
Buyers seek a home or investment, whilst criminals are looking for opportunities. Therefore, it is essential to prepare the empty property to achieve both sale and security.
As Michael recommends
- Focus on kerb appeal. “A tidy, well maintained appearance will appeal to buyers but deter criminals. Remove post, move bins and add a security light, to support the lived in look and security.”
- Focus on furnishings. “Temporarily furnishing an empty property can boost sales prospects, as potential buyers can see how the space might be used. However, don’t use heirloom antiques as flat pack, budget furniture is fine for creating an aesthetic which appeals to buyers without catching the interest of burglars, and helps the property appear less obviously unoccupied.”
- Keep up appearances with window dressings. “Curtains or blinds add the homely feel buyers want to connect with even in a property which is otherwise empty, and can also benefit security. Asking a neighbour or estate agent to pop by to change the look of these from time to time gives the appearance of the property being in use, which also minimises the chance of opportunist break-ins.”
- Establish secure routines for viewings. “For agent-accompanied viewings and when accompanying viewings yourself, remain at the property after viewers leave. Locking up and leaving alongside viewers can be a sure sign of an empty property.”
- Fully securing the garden. “Boundary security is a win for potential buyers as a secure garden for children or pets is a selling point. It also offers sellers of empty property security against trespass, squatters and burglary. Even temporary boundary security can be a cost-effective investment as conveyancing forms require sellers to declare burglaries, something which can diminish interest and even value in the property.”
“Finally, I recommend that if you don’t live locally to the property, consider empty property inspections from a security provider,” Michael concludes. “That will provide you with a greater peace of mind throughout the selling process.”
For an additional read, please visit Is CCTV Really Securing Your Vacant Property?
Credit: Photo by Alvin Engler on Unsplash