5 Tips on Protecting Your Home from Burglary

It’s a sad fact that burglaries can happen to anyone. Regardless of factors like our cities and neighborhoods, whether urban or rural, break-ins are a common concern among homeowners of all types. Indeed, in the United States, burglaries occur nearly every 15 seconds!

While some areas have higher rates of property crime than others, safety is should be a top priority, no matter your location. Thankfully, there are measures we can take in protecting our homes, our families and our belongings.

Keep reading for five tips on making your home and property less vulnerable to burglaries. You’ll be glad you did!

1. Investing in a Security System

I happen to live in Indianapolis. And though it may not be a major city, it is not one without its share of property crime. In fact, in 2010, of over 46,000 property crimes reported city-wide, nearly one-third were burglaries. While that statistic, alone, is enough to frighten anyone, a home security system can provide a significant amount of protection and peace of mind.

ADT security systems, for example, provide features like siren sounders in the event of a break-in or fire, motion sensor alarms, wireless sensors for doors and windows, and an easy-to-operate digital touchpad. When it’s all said and done, the very best way to deter burglars is through protecting your home with a top-of-the-line security system.

2. Securing Belongings

By securing your belongings, you can discourage burglars and petty thieves, so be sure to keep your outdoor space free of valuable items. For example, scooters, motorcycles, bicycles, etc. should be locked away in a garage, or at least kept hidden from sight.  Also, if you happen to buy electronics, tools or other costly items, be sure to tear up the box and place it in a trash bag, as opposed to just setting it out by the curb.

When it comes to outdoor space, keeping your yard well-lit can discourage burglars, as can properly maintaining greenery; since dark places and unruly shrubbery can serve as a hiding place for burglars, be sure to keep things bright and neat.

3. Thinking Like a Burglar

In order to properly secure your home, try thinking like a burglar. Take a stroll down your block and pay special attention to your property. Are there valuable items in sight? Is the interior of your house visible from the street? If so, can you spot electronics, works of art or other items that may pique a burglar’s interest? Would curtains or blinds help in concealing your belongings?

Further, can you identify any weak spots in your home’s security? Are there open gates or windows? A garage door that’s always open? Make a note of these and other factors, then get busy solving the problems you encounter.

4. Giving Burglars the Fake-Out

Although home burglaries can occur when the occupants are home, most take place when homeowners are away. Therefore, creating the illusion of being home, even when you’re away, can deter burglars and prevent break-ins.

Do this by investing in timers for your indoor and outdoor lights, as well as by leaving televisions and stereos on when you’re gone. If you plan on being away from home for more than a day or two, ask a trusted neighbor to pick up your mail, newspapers and other deliveries.

5. Form a Neighborhood Watch Group

Several sets of eyes are always better than one. And when it comes to preventing burglaries and other crimes, a neighborhood watch group can enhance safety for your family and neighbors, alike. If your neighborhood already has a watch program, sign up and help out; if not, talk to your neighbors and brainstorm ideas on keeping your neighborhood safe.

Since areas with watch programs report far fewer crimes than those without, forming a group can be an effective tool in preventing crime in your neighborhood.

Considering a First-Time Remodel? Top Newbie Mistakes to Avoid

How to Choose Exterior Paint Colors Not really feeling the love about a particular part of your home? Want to freshen up the look a bit? Is the area looking a little outdated, or perhaps a tad dilapidated? Whatever your motivation for undergoing a remodel, it requires a lot of information-gathering and forethought.

While you may be ready to hit the ground running, impatience will cost you big time in the long-run. It may not be possible to anticipate every problem, or ensure a process free of stress and problems, but a little bit of education can go a long way, and one of the best things to read up on is the most common mistakes people make when remodeling, in hopes you can avoid making these same errors. Here are just a few to really keep in mind once you decide to move forward.

Being Unrealistic about What You Can Handle Yourself

Some people are going with the professionals all the way—they know nothing about this stuff, and don’t care to. But, then there are the people who may have a bit of handiness in their blood, or feel they can easily teach themselves how to do certain things. This can be a great way to save some money, but in trying to save as much as possible, they take on projects way beyond their ability.

Mistakes are made, the wrong materials are purchased, and in your efforts to shave a few bucks off the cost of the remodel, you now just spent more than you really needed to. For those of you considering doing some of the work yourself to cut costs, if you have any doubts whether you can do the job properly, do the smart thing and bring in the professionals. If you go into the remodel with an obsessive zeal to do it as cheaply as possible, you are getting things off on the very wrong foot. Seek the services of a professional home remodeling company like DM Building to get things right the first time.

Not Realizing the Full Impact of the Remodel

Remodeling is stressful for a million different reasons, namely the disruption it causes in your daily life. One of the biggest mistakes newbies make is failing to consider the full impact the project will have on their routines. Poor planning will make this stressful experience ten times more so. Make sure you have a good talk with the contractor about every little thing that will be happening during the project so you and your family can plan accordingly.

Not Doing Enough Homework on Contractors

Nightmare stories abound about contractors—shoddy materials, substandard work, unprofessional behavior, going ridiculously over-budget, and sometimes, leaving the job unfinished never to return. You are excited to get started, you interview someone and everything seems fine; they are available to start right away, so the job is theirs. This is not the way to do it.

Check they have proper licensing; investigate whether any complaints have been filed against the contractor. Get references, and actually follow up on them, and make sure the jobs were similar in nature to yours. And don’t just talk to past clients. Talk to the suppliers and subcontractors who work with the company on a regular basis. Their experiences with the contractor can offer a goldmine of useful information on which to base your decision. Hiring a contractor is not to be taken lightly.

Making Important Decisions at the Very Last Minute

Chances are, you are not so wealthy you can afford to do a remodel every few years, so it is important to get things as close to perfect right now. You will be living with these results for many years to come; while you may not be able to help questioning any decisions made, no matter how carefully thought-out and no matter how much you love the remodel, you don’t want to end up in a position where you are really regretting your choices because you made them in a rush.

 

10 Things to Check When Inspecting a Potential Property Investment

House Buying Checklist

Buying a house can be a wonderful experience, but it can also be a regret-inducing nightmare if you aren’t careful.

If you’ve been approved for your Homeloan and are ready to buy your dream house, make sure you check off these 10 items during the home inspection process to be sure that you are not buying a lemon.

Electrical

This is best left to a professional electrician who specialises in home inspections. Ask them for a complete report on the state of the houses electrical system and all the existing hard wired devices such as air conditioning and heating units, pumps, solar panels and so on.

Also ask about the capacity of the system and whether it might need upgrading to handle supply new appliances that you may wish to install in the future.

Plumbing

Again, a professional plumber who specialists in inspections is essential here, all pipes should be tested for leakages, blockages, and the build-up of rust, mineral deposits and algae. Water filters should also be opened and inspected for build-up and it might also pay to have the water tested for bacteria levels.

Structure

Here, you need to check the buildings foundations for signs of crack or bulges, it is also essential to check if the house as the foundation may have subsided over time. Check for signs of water damage, mould and termites that may have weakened the structure.

Drainage

The efficiency of the property’s drainage system, both natural and plumbed can be hard to ascertain unless you happen to be inspecting during a heavy downpour. Check the natural slope of the block and see where water will pool, inspect these areas for marshy, damp ground.

Inside, check the basement for signs of previous water damage and have the storm water run-off pipes checked for blockages that may cause the house to flood in heavy rain.

Roofing

Check for cracked or shifted roof tiles, or if it is a metal roof check for rust and deterioration. Examine all the houses ceiling for signs of water damage and if found carefully check the roof above those areas for potential leaks. Check all the roof gutters and downpipes for leaks and debris build-up.

Trees that lean onto the house can give access points for rodents and other pests and could fall on the house during storms.

Pests

Termites are the number one pest to check for, as they pose the biggest most risk of serious damaging the structure of a house. Look for signs of other pests like ants and rodents, but these are less of a concern and can be removed with adequate pest control measures.

Another thing to check for is the presence of nesting flocks or birds, which can be very noisy and messy.

Heating and Air conditioning

All heating and cooling appliances should be thoroughly tested for operation and efficiency, older units may need to be replaced and this can add a large to the repair bill for the house.

Make sure to check the insulation for signs of deterioration and this can greatly affect the efficiency of you heating and cooling devices.

Documentation

Check with the local council and the owner that all the documentation for extensions and renovation are in order or you could find that you have to tear down half of the house that wasn’t built to regulation.

Doors and frames

Check all doors and window for signs of warping and ensure that they open, close and lock properly. Also check for termites and general deterioration of paint or materials.

Garden and grounds

Check for large trees whose root systems might eventually crack paving or even damage the foundations. Plants like ivy growing on the house can also cause structural deterioration over time. Lots of deciduous trees mean you’ll have your work cut out for you in autumn. Don’t forget to check any sprinkler systems for leaks and general damage as well!

Once you are satisfied that you are fully aware of the condition of these ten aspects of your house, you can move forward with confidence and use your Clear Path Home Loan from BOQ to your best advantage and make a sound investment for the future.

Six Steps to Making Your First Sale through an Online Store Today

OnlineStore

Everything is ready to go – your inventory, eCommerce website and online payment gateway account are up and running. The only thing that you are missing right now is your very first sale.

Using your online presence and a few quick yet effective offline tricks, you can generate at least one sale today to get the ball rolling.

Reduce the Loading Time of Your Site

One of the biggest reasons why so many customers abandon eCommerce websites is because of delayed loading times. Remember, the average consumer shops online to save money as well as time. However, if customers are not saving time on your site, they will find one of your competitors and offer their money to them instead.

One study shows that more than 40 percent of your prospective customers will completely abandon your website if a page takes longer than ten seconds to load. Therefore, integrating Flash animation and large media files within your web design can actually backfire and harm your chances of closing sales instead of helping sales. Don’t wait to hear complaints about your website from your key demographic; take time to test it out now to identify and address any problematic issues right away.

Check the Prices Offered by Your Competitors

Keep in mind that you are more than likely not the very first company to offer your products within your respective market. If that is the case, there are quite a few other companies that have already found the perfect price to attract your key demographic and convert them into paying customers. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel when starting up an online store, follow in their footsteps and use their current pricing as a guide when setting your own prices.

Drop Your Prices for an Introductory Promotion

To get the ball rolling and generate some buzz, you need to “take one for the team” and drop your prices to a considerably low introductory rate. Keep in mind the cost of goods sold because the last thing you want to do is cut your price to a point where you will take a loss. Even breaking even and giving goods away would allow you to increase conversion and generate sales, although you won’t be able to generate a profit by doing so. The primary goal for hosting this introductory special is to draw attention to your site and make your presence known. By doing so successfully, your customers will return to your website in the future with repeat business.

Offer a Captivating Prize in a Giveaway

To generate more buzz and even go viral with your online content, you should offer a captivating prize in a giveaway that will compel consumers to purchase products from you as soon as possible. For instance, requiring customers to make a purchase in order to be entered into a drawing for a large cash prize is an effective way to open the door wide open for sales and conversion increases.

Even customers who aren’t usually interested in the products you have to offer will be willing to finalize a purchase just to have a chance at winning the cash prize. This will at least get your foot in the door and allow you to turn those one-time buyers into long-term customers.

Spread Online Call-to-Action Buttons Freely

The next step you want to take is to spread your call-to-action buttons, graphics and hyperlinks freely in strategic places throughout your website. Using an “Add to Cart” button on several key pages within your website, such as your homepage and product pages, is a great start. However, you need to make sure that these buttons and links are used in other aspects of your company’s online presence as well.

For instance, don’t forget to add them into your social media profiles and pages – such as your Facebook brand page. Remember that more than 50 percent of all marketers were able to find customers through Facebook in 2013 alone, according to Social Media Today. Having call-to-action links within your social media profile pages, therefore, could very well lead to you closing that first sale.

Reach Out to Your Family and Friends

Don’t be afraid to reach out to your family and friends for your first sale. The most effective form of advertising is word-of-mouth and there’s no one who can spread the word about your products and services more efficiently than the people you already know, either personally or professionally.

You are more than likely already friends with them on Facebook and other social media platforms, so they can easily help you to promote your company just by “liking” or “following” your page. Keep in mind that a sale is a sale; whether it comes from someone you know or a complete stranger shouldn’t matter. By refusing to reach out to your friends and family, also referred to as your “warm market,” you will basically be giving away potential sales instead of generating them.

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