Homebuyer Checklist: What Safe Qualities to Look for in a New Home

Written by | Updated July 24, 2014

Buying a new home comes with many decisions and plenty of stress. Your family’s safety is one of the primary concerns you likely have when choosing your next home. Here is a checklist of safety features to look for to help you choose a new neighborhood to call home.

Check Out the Neighborhood

The safety of the neighborhood is a key consideration when buying a home. You can change the security features of the home itself, but you can’t control or change the neighborhood. There are plenty of online tools to help you determine if you feel comfortable in a neighborhood, or if you should steer clear. Check your local sex offender registry to scope out who is living in the neighborhood as well.

Check your local sex registry home buyers checklist

Research the crime rates in the new neighborhood you’re considering. Your real estate agent should have an idea of the neighborhood’s safety, but call the local police department to find out about recent crimes in the area. Ask about burglaries and car break-ins to get an idea of crime in the area and ask for any other pertinent details about who lives in the area and what happens on the streets you’re looking to live on.

Look Next Door

An area with friendly neighbors who know one another, take pride in their homes and look out for each other, helps offer you a sense of security. Residents who are aware of what happens in the neighborhood discourage burglaries and other potential crimes. Look for a strong sense of community in a neighborhood that is taken care of well. Also, find out if there is a neighborhood watch program and how effective it’s been.

home buyers checklist ask neighbors about neighborhood safety

Scope out the Landscaping

Landscaping does more than give the home curb appeal. The landscaping affects the safety of the home. Overgrown bushes give potential burglars a perfect hiding spot, especially when located near doors or windows. Landscape lighting is another safety issue. A lack of outdoor lighting helps burglars remain undetected when prowling around the property. Look for a home with exterior lighting near entry points or areas where you can easily install motion sensor lights.

homebuyers checklist check for overgrown landscaping

Inspect Mechanical Features

Inside the home, the mechanical components play a role in your family’s safety. An outdated electrical system puts your home at risk for fires. Gas appliances or fireplaces that don’t function properly increase the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Get a home inspection to verify that all mechanical systems meet current building codes and function properly.

homebuyers checklist check mechanical features like gas fireplaces that could pose a carbon monoxide risk

Detect Danger

Even with precautions, fires or carbon monoxide leaks are a possibility. Look up as you walk through a potential home to check for smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. If the home has detectors that are hardwired into the electrical system, check for a battery backup in case the power goes out.

homebuyers checklist check for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

Check the Doors and Windows

Look for metal or solid core doors on all exterior entrances. A glass panel in or next to the front door gives a potential burglar easy access to the home even with deadbolts. Once the glass breaks, the burglar reaches in and unlocks the deadbolt. Reinforced glass can reduce the risk of burglary in a door with glass panels.

homebuyers checklist check for secure deadbolts

A home with a sliding glass door creates extra safety concerns. Sliding doors are easy to pop out of the track for instant access to the home. Look for safety bars installed on the door and extra locks that use a deadbolt through the sliding panel.

Don’t underestimate the power of locks when buying a home. Deadbolt locks at least 1 inch long give you the best protection for your new home. A heavy-duty metal strike plate secured with four screws at least three inches long makes it difficult to kick the door in.

The windows provide another access point for burglars. Some windows have built-in stops you can engage so the window only opens a few inches. If someone tries to force the window open with the stops engaged, the window won’t go up any further.

Look for a Security System

A home security system can help give you peace of mind as a new homebuyer. With a system already installed, you can start the service as soon as you move in, giving you immediate protection from burglaries. Check out the location of the motion sensors if the home already has a security system installed. All windows and doors should have sensors attached to them. Some systems also include motion sensors in the home and glass breakage sensors. If this isn’t already installed in the home you purchase, don’t hesitate to call and get one installed. This can help you secure your home right away.

homebuyers checklist check to see if the home has a security system

A video surveillance system adds to the security of the home. Visible cameras sometimes scare off potential thieves, but they are also easier to disable because the burglar can spot them. Hidden cameras give you evidence if a burglary does happen.

A functional floor plan, close proximity to work or a top-notch school district might draw you to a particular home, but don’t forget the safety aspects. Digging a little deeper as you tour a potential home allows you to assess the potential risks and safety features.

Written by Hillary Johnston

A proud mother of four, Hillary is passionate about safety education. She holds a degree in Public Health and Disaster Management. Learn more

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