Act like a skelm; secure your home against burglars

According to the UK's Home Office Statistics, home owners are twice as likely to be burgled within 12 months of moving homes.

"In South Africa, it is more than likely that this is true as home owners are unfamiliar with the 'weak' spots in their home security," says Mary-Jane Lefevre; call centre manager at ooba (formerly MortgageSA).

"Safety will always be a priority in South Africa," says Lefevre. "Securing your home should be one of the first things you do when you move into a new home."

When moving into a new home 'act like a skelm' suggests Lefevre.

"Carefully case out your new home as a potential target," says Lefevre. "Try all the access points such as gates, windows, doors and even the roof to see if there are any potential entries."

The most valuable asset a burglar has is time, so any preventative measure installed to delay his entrance is beneficial.

"Tidy up your garden," says Lefevre. "Having a tidy, trim garden will make it more difficult for anyone to hide effectively."

Home owners can also consider using solar lights to light up garden dark spots.

"These are cheap, and don't run off electricity," says Lefevre. "Bright sensor lights can also light up large areas if they detect movement."

Anything that makes a noise is advantageous. Install a good sensor alarm and test it regularly and have it linked to a reputable security company.

Outside beams and electric fences are also effective security measures. However check with your security company what will happen in the event of load shedding. Burglars can take advantage of load shedding times as these are published in advance in the press.

"Go and meet the new neighbours," suggests Lefevre. "Offer to watch their place in return for them keeping an eye on yours and report any suspicious activity. It may also be an idea to motivate a security guard for your street; if everyone participates it need not be a costly exercise."

It is very important to not only secure your home but also be aware of your surroundings when entering and leaving your home.

"Home owners should be aware that many of these burglaries are opportunistic," comments Lefevre. "Although you may be relaxing at home always ensure that the entrances are secured, never open the door without checking the person's identity first and don't take it for granted that the person at the door is who they say they are."

Even if your door has a safety chain on it, don't open it if you are not sure of who is there. It is very easy to use force to open a door that is on a safety chain."

Ensure that you check with the previous owners if there are keys which may be with other parties," suggests Lefevre. "Better still, change the locks, this way you can be sure that no one else has the keys and always keep your car and house keys with you in your bedroom at night."

Having a secure home will not only protect you and your family but will also add value to your home. South Africans are security conscious and a property that appears to be unsecure will immediately be perceived as less valuable.

"One of the first questions potential buyers ask is 'is the property secure'." Prevention is vital in the fight against crime," says Lefevre. "Securing your home is crucial for your own peace of mind and the future safety of you and your family."

Hello ooba news

ooba (formerly MortgageSA) welcomed the 0.5% interest rate cut announced yesterday by the South African Reserve Bank which will save South African home owners an estimated R259m in home loan repayments each month, but says more cuts are needed.

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Propertygenie.co.za has entered into a partnership with fractionalownership.co.za to provide access to the latest fractional ownership listings which will be available from the 12 December, 2008.

South Africans spent over R10 billion during the festive season last year. This year ooba suggests carefully planning your holiday season spending to avoid a financial hangover in January 2009. "Festive season debt can take months to pay off in the new year," says Jenny Rushin, Provincial Sales Manager for ooba (formerly MortgageSA).

Weak economic conditions, higher interest rates and the global credit crisis have forced banks to be far more picky about who they will lend money and less generous with their lending rates. But Mary Jane Lefevre, Regional Sales Manager of ooba, said that before you apply for a home loan, there are steps you can take to improve your credit status and encourage lenders to look more favourably on your application.