Archive for

Crime and Unemployment – How to Avoid Being a Victim

A growing statistic we hear little about in the mainstream media is that of rising crime rates as they relate to unemployment. As unemployment rates rise across the US, so does crime, as many formerly law abiding citizens turn to both property crime and white collar crime to feed their families.

Over the past two years as the economy took a steep downturn, crime, especially property crimes, have skyrocketed. One doesn’t have to look far to find a victim of recent property crime, their numbers are increasing.

The most common type of crime is car break-in. It seems petty, but aside from what was taken, now the owner must deal with the cost of repairs such as broken windows and interior parts, these as well as lost car batteries and even tires. You may have noticed more cars driving around with plastic and taped over windows, this, usually being a result of thieves who broke in trying to make a fast buck.

There seem to be no safe neighborhoods from this sort of crime as many of the perpetrators were formerly law abiding citizens; a sad commentary on our times.  This new breed of criminal is more likely to succeed at getting away with it as many are educated, intelligent and skilled but down on their luck in a serious way. In desperation they appear better able to plan a crime and carry it out without being caught; bad news for the rest of us.

What are some things we can do to reduce the chance that we will fall victim to this sort of violation? One thing, and probably the most important, is to practice awareness of your surroundings. For instance, pay attention to who is around you and where you park,especially at night. When you go to the grocery store, or any other type of store, choose one with security cameras outside. They are easy to spot; look up on the lot’s light poles and building parameters for the cameras pointed at a downward angle. The presence of these not only provides more safety for your car but for yourself as well. If they are not present where you park at work, approach your employer and ask to have some installed. You can even take up an employee collection to supplement the purchase and let the employer know you are serious. Often the cost of such a system is far less than the damage done to a vehicle during a break-in and the cost of replacing stolen items.

The same approach can be taken for the home; check your locks to make sure they are working properly and are not the type that can easily be picked. A dead bolt type with door frame reinforcing plate is your best bet.

Inexpensive surveillance systems can be added where the system dials a preset series of phone numbers such as police, security company and even your cell phone to alert you of a break-in. Windows in the home should be checked on a regular basis to make sure they are locked and have not been tampered with. In the home it is a good idea to place a can of pepper spray or even a stun gun in strategic locations in case you do meet an intruder in your home.

Cars should have alarm systems installed, especially in this economic climate. There are many new systems available but the best is one that calls or beeps you if your car is being tampered with. These systems can cost upward of $400. But can save you from loss and repair bills. For personal protection in the car you can carry a key-ring pepper spray or an inexpensive personal alarm which when activated sets off an ear piercing screech that can interrupt an attack and draw attention.

In this climate of increasing social breakdown it pays to be more vigilant and attentive to your surroundings, it could save your hard earned belongings or even save your life.

Improve Home and Garden Security With Various Fences

Security is the prime concern of all human beings, be it for their property, assets, finances, job, career, etc. Man buys home to have a secure and permanent shelter from the weather and to have his own place to relax at the end of day after work.

For that he spends a fortune to build up a home of his and his family’s desires, accommodates many things like luxury, usability, beautifying and functional structures, and so on. The bare minimum one wants is all this dream like result of sheer hard work goes to some burglar!

No Compromise on Security

So, security is one factor that cannot be compromised at all under any circumstances, especially when it deals with costly assets like your vehicles and home. Installing fences is a simple way of ensuring some deterrent to burglaries.

Australian Bureau of Statistics survey reveals that break-ins were the most common household crime. Foil theft attempts by choosing iron fence gates and heavy-duty wooden or iron fences.

The garden area is prone to break-ins as it generally has access points that open to the main road or another open, public and susceptible area.

Though wooden fences can add to the beauty to your property and the green surrounding, you might consider chain link fence design more appropriate if you stay in a packed residential complex.

Different Fence Styles

There are many fence styles that give you security and also beautify the property too. Depending on your property value and if you have a garage too, you can select safety fences that suit your home decor and purpose. Budget is also one of the important criteria that people consider while installing fences as they call for at least once-in-a-year maintenance.

Chain link fences are the most popular design that professional fencing services are approached for. They are light, interwoven wire mesh that protects the property from trespassing, allows visibility from both – inside as well as outside, demarcate your area, has your pet, restricts small animals from entering the lawn, etc.

Security Fence Selection Tips

Though fences in general up the security, there are some technical points that one should consider before finalizing and installing a certain type of fence.

  • Choose strong and durable material for the fences so that it can’t be easily broken
  • Determine the right height for fences so that climbing over is not an easy option
  • Select a fence style like ornamental iron fencing, for less visibility and increased privacy
  • Choose gates that can lock at nights or, when you are not at home
  • You need to keep up the fences after a year, foresee the possible damages & choose the right fence type

You have permit to install high fences from the local authority. By following these tips and guidelines for fences mentioned above you can contribute towards making your home a more secure place to live in and enjoy.

So You Want To Be A Landlord? Investing In Rental Properties

If you are thinking of investing in the housing market, now is definitely the time. The recent drop in home prices brings the dream of becoming a landlord (or landlady) within reach. If you are looking to get rich quick, this may not be your vehicle, but if you want a dependable stream of monthly income today, as well as a safety net as you get closer to retirement, consider buying an investment property.

Here are some things you will want to consider as you search for the perfect house to rent.

1. Location.

First, and most importantly, find a realtor you trust. He or she can give you information on the location of the hottest deals. Right now, foreclosures are at an all time high, and houses are selling for a fraction of their assessed value.

Tip:

Look for a solid, middle-class neighborhood; a home too large or too small will be harder to rent. Ideally, it will be located near a school. Homes near schools are not only convenient, but they also hold their value well. If you are set on a house in foreclosure, look to the outer fringes of the foreclosure area, where most people can still afford the payments.

2. Down payment.

Unfortunately, due to the recent mortgage fiasco, it is difficult, if not impossible, to get a home for no money down. For an investment loan, look for an initial outlay of 20%.

Tip:

If it is feasible, consider moving to the new home and renting your residence for a few years. An owner-occupied loan saves money in all areas of the transaction. If you live in the house yourself for at least two years, the profit should be tax-exempt when you finally sell it.

3. Interest rate.

This will vary considerably according to your credit rating. A low credit rating will not prevent you from getting a loan, but you will pay a higher interest rate. If you choose not to live in the new house, plan to pay a point or two higher than a traditional home loan.

4. Condition of the property.

If this is your first investment, you may wish to find a home close to move-in condition. Any home will require a thorough wipe down, carpet cleaning, and a change of locks. Become familiar with your state’s landlord/tenant laws so you know exactly what maintenance is required before the home can be rented.

Tip:

Listen to your instincts when viewing the home. If you wouldn’t want to live there, no one else will, either. Unless you have building and remodeling skills, or have a trusted handyman on retainer, a “fixer-upper” can become a giant headache.

5. Maintenance.

As the landlord, you will be required to maintain the structure and any working appliances. This includes making sure there are no leaks in the foundation or holes in the roof. A new furnace or heat pump will cost about $5000, so you will want to check it seasonally.

Tip:

A home warranty will pay for itself with the first use. For about $300, you can have peace of mind that if a major appliance needs repair or replacement, you only have to pay the deductible

6. Lease.

State laws vary as to what must be included in a lease, but your realtor can give you the specifics. A detailed lease should list the duties and responsibilities of each party; it is invaluable in protecting both you and the renter. Make sure the renter is accountable for minor upkeep such as moving the lawn, cleaning the gutter, etc.

7. Insurance:

Insurance rates vary, but insurance on a rental property is less expensive than your residence. This is because you will be getting a landlord’s policy vs. a homeowner’s policy; the possessions of the occupant are not covered. Don’t skimp in this area–make sure the coverage is enough to rebuild the home should an accident occur, and check the policy each year, as construction rates can rise quickly.

Tip:

Consider a clause requiring the occupant to purchase renter’s insurance. For about $20 per month, they will be reimbursed for their belongings should something happen to the home. It only takes one fire or flood to destroy personal possessions accumulated over a lifetime, and as the owner, you are not responsible for their loss. Prevention, therefore, is key.

Sound like a lot of work? After the initial fear of giving up a large sum for the down payment and closing costs, the renting experience is easy. Once in a while you will get a call in the middle of the night, but each month you will get a check in the mail that not only covers the mortgage, but includes a few hundred dollars to stow away for maintenance. In as little as a year, you should have five to ten thousand dollars for improvements and unforeseen expenses. Once you have the safety net, you can begin paying yourself back.

The best part? Depending on the prevailing rent and your initial outlay, you can own the home outright in much less than the standard thirty years, while someone else pays the rent. Or, you can sell it after a few years and keep the profit.

Being a landlord is not the fastest way to make money, but it is an excellent way to build equity you can tap into for emergencies, a new car, or retirement. Instead of working for someone else, consider investing in the rental market. Common sense and a good realtor are all you need to make it work for you.