Summer’s finally here, and that means days spent lounging on the beach, jet-setting to tropical locations, and hitting the road for some fun with the fam.
But don’t let all the summer freedom let you forget: you’ve got a serious financial investment waiting for you back home (your house!)
And if you don’t take steps to protect it while you’re away, you could come home to some serious — and probably expensive — issues to deal with.
Are you planning on some far-off getaways this summer season?
Here’s what you can do to protect your home while you’re out:
- Keep your plans private – As excited as you are to go to Bali, don’t post on your public Twitter or Facebook page that you’ll be out of the country for a month, as it could send thieves calling. Keep your vacay plans — especially details on dates, times, etc. — close to the chest and only tell people who absolutely need to know (and who you trust.)
- Feign like you’re still in town – In the same vein, you also need to be careful about what you post while you’re actually on vacation. Geo-tagging yourself at a resort 5,000 miles away confirms to a burglar that you’re not home — and probably won’t be back anytime soon. Be choosy about what you post publicly while you’re away, and pepper your content with older photos if possible — ones from your backyard, your hometown, and other items that might make you seem still at home.
- Put a neighbor in charge – If you can, have a neighbor drop by once a day to water the plants, check the mail, and just do a once-over of the house. There’s always the chance you left the oven on, a door unlocked, or the straightening iron plugged in, so they could prevent a serious emergency from occurring. It’s also just nice to have someone looking out for the property while you’re away, so try to choose someone who has decent visibility of your home — ideally a neighbor across the street, behind you, or next to you.
- Install an alarm system – Have a fully installed security alarm system is the best way to protect your home from break-in and burglary. Make sure you register your alarm with the city (this is required if you want local PD and fire departments to come when it goes off), and always put a sign in your front yard that shows your home is protected.
- Lock your gate – Your gate is the first challenge for sneaky thief or burglar, so don’t make it easy for them. Install a padlock or other security system on the gate, and make sure there are no holes or vulnerabilities in your fence. If they can’t get in your yard, they can’t get in your home.
- Try a video doorbell – Tools like the Ring doorbell give you a real-time video feed of your front porch — all from your mobile phone. You can even answer the doorbell from off-site, talk back and forth via the bell’s audio capabilities, and save and export videos from the feed. It’s a great way to get some peace of mind.
- Install and turn on all outdoor lights – If you don’t have them already, install some well-placed outdoor lights in the front and backyard. You should have some lining the walkway, driveway, and garage, and maybe a few pointing at the windows and doors as well. This will make it easy for neighbors to spot something suspicious. Motion-activated lights are also a great idea — especially when installed over the front door and garage.
- Leave it messy – Though most people like to leave their homes pristine and clean when heading away for a bit, it’s actually safer to keep your home a little messy. Potential burglars aren’t going to be too tempted looking in the window of an unkempt property, but one that looks perfectly polished and clean, that likely means the owner has money — and things to steal.
Hire a House-Sitter
Finally, you can also hire a full-time house sitter. This is a great idea if you’re going to be gone a while, as it ensures something is always on site, taking care of the general maintenance and upkeep of the property. It’s also ideal if you’ve got animals you want taken care of as well.
Make sure you choose your house sitter carefully if you go this route. A college student may be affordable, but can you be sure they won’t throw a party while you’re away? Try to stick to people you trust or house sitters your neighbors and friends have had good experiences with.
Protect Your Home on Vacation
Your house is a huge investment, so take steps to protect — both when you’re there and when you’re not. Don’t have the cash to pay for any security upgrades right now? Then consider a cash-out refinance. Contact an Embrace home loan officer to learn more and see what you qualify for.