Crime won’t go on vacation this summer, even if you do. So the Florida Association of Realtors is reminding homeowners to take precautions, so your home isn’t unprotected while you’re away.

July and August traditionally produce more crime than any other months, according to law enforcement authorities. But you can discourage burglars from targeting your home by taking a few simple safety steps.

First, don’t let your home look like it’s unoccupied. Use timers in various rooms to turn on lights and even the radio or television. Although daylight hours are longer, it’s helpful to have noise and light fill different spaces of your home at unexpected days.

Next, make sure that all of the doors and windows to the house are locked before you leave, even when leaving for a short period of time. Also, check to be sure your garage door is locked from the outside, and can’t be opened. The typical burglary takes less than five minutes, and unlocked doors just make the thief’s work easier.

Overgrown landscape can encourage crime as well. Shrubbery and foliage grows rapidly in the summer, so keep your bushes and trees trimmed so that no one will be able to lurk next to your home, waiting for an opportunity to break in. Also, if you keep your landscape under control, your neighbors will be able to easily see if someone is trying to break into your home.

Many people still leave keys under the front door mat. Unfortunately, that’s the first place thieves will look. When leaving your home, make sure you take your house keys with you, or leave a spare set with a trusted neighbor. Never leave a key under the welcome mat, in a mailbox or other hiding space.

Also, if your garage has an electronic keypad for auto-entry, change the code from time to time. And, make sure you lock the door from the garage to your house. That way, if the thief gets into the garage, he won’t necessarily be able to rob your home.

Finally, if you’re planning to be away from home more than a day, arrange for your neighbors to pick up your mail and newspapers. Or, stop your newspapers and arrange for the local post office to hold onto your mail for you, so nothing gets lost. If you’re going to be away for an extended period of time, say a week or two, ask a neighbor to park a spare car in front of your house, so it appears someone is home, even if you’re not.

Many smaller communities allow residents to call the local police station (the non-emergency number) to ask for more frequent patrols in the neighborhood when they’re on vacation. Call your local squad to see if this is an option for you.

Who’s Buying and Selling Homes in 2002

Last year, more than 6.2 million existing homes were sold. According to a recent report from the National Association of Realtors, the number of homes sold will increase this year and next, as low interest rates continue to spur residential real estate markets across the country.

How much like the typical home buyer and home seller are you?

Last year, 42 percent of all buyers purchased a home for the first time. The typical home buyer household was a married couple, 36 years of age, earning $71,300 per year.

Home buyers usually look at about ten homes over seven weeks before finding the right home, and more often than not they bought an existing single-family home in the suburbs. Half of all repeat home buyers started their search for a home before they put their current home on the market.

The Internet is making a bigger difference in the lives of home buyers and sellers. Just over forty percent of all home buyers used the Internet as an information source. The study found that Internet users tend to be younger and purchased more expensive homes than other buyers and more than 60 percent said the Internet shortened the search time for their new home.

On the selling side, more than twenty percent sold their homes by owner, without an agent. The most important reasons for selling by owner? Nearly half said they didn’t want to pay a commission, while another 31 percent sold to a friend, neighbor or relative. The biggest problem for those selling without an agent was understanding and processing all of the paperwork involved, while just 9 percent had trouble pricing their home.

Published: Jul 1, 2002