House #2: Foreclosure Property Investment Security Tips
Your foreclosure property investment is vulnerable to theft and vandalism, as I recently found out. After all the work was done and the house was ready to show the house was broken into and some of the appliances were stolen.
In order to give you a realistic picture of what real estate investing is about I have to write both about the good and not so good…so here is what happened to my foreclosure property investment.
This was just three days after the property was put on the market. An agent is going to show the house to a couple and as he drives by he sees a U-Haul parked at the house. He thinks the house has been sold and people are moving in. So he drives past but he calls my agent to verify. When my agent tells him it has not been sold he goes back to the house, now the U-Haul truck is gone.
He opens up the house, walks into the kitchen and there is water all over the kitchen floor from the ice line that had been ripped off from my now stolen brand new refrigerator!
They also took a brand new washer and dryer that I was offering in the hopes of making this house stand out from other similar houses for sale.
It seems that the thieves when they saw the agent drive by got spooked and took off. I wonder if the agent had been driving by if they would have done away also with the stove and dishwasher . This all happened at 11:30 in the morning – broad daylight!
When I was first informed of the theft my first thought was that this was an inside job – meaning this was done by someone that knew these appliances were there, were new and the house was vacant. And also knew the combination to the lockbox were the keys are being kept.
But when I got there I saw that they got in by forcing the lock on the back patio door. The police also informed me that the fact they had a U-Haul is a sign of thieves that do this for a living .
The part that still makes me suspicious is that there are two other vacant and for sale houses in the neighborhood - one with brand new appliances – which are still untouched. So why mine? This is not a bad area either.
Furthermore I had a portable alarm system (see picture) at the house. It seems the thieves “quieted” the system by smashing it on the floor since I found the thing was all busted. This system is designed to be connected to a phone line and monitored so that police can be dispatched if it goes off. Unfortunately I was in the middle of connecting phone service so at the time of break in it wasn’t being monitored.
But in all sincerity, even if it was monitored, I wonder if the police would have gotten there in time to make a difference. The police officer that was doing the report told me they prioritize their responses and alarms from these systems go at the bottom of the priority list.
Anyhow, here are some free real estate investing tips on securing your foreclosure investment property:
- As soon as you close on your foreclosure property investment change the locks. You don’t know who had access to the keys before. Also, as soon as you finish your renovation at the very least change the code on the lockbox you used to keep the keys, if this lockbox was accessed by workers.
- Keep track of and get back any keys and garage door openers you had given to anybody during the work period. Consider changing the code on the garage door opener
- Get the right insurance for your foreclosure property investment. I have a landlords insurance policy which is typical for investment property but although I have it on my other properties I did not have theft/vandalism coverage, something both me and my insurance person overlooked. However this coverage is only good for 90 days of the property being vacant. Lesson learned!
- Probably one of the best and cheapest security devices is a piece of 1 x 4 wood placed on the frame of every sliding door and window to prevent them from opening. Like I learned, the locks for patio doors are easily picked. I don’t know that this would have prevented the break-in but it would have made it harder.
- Talk to the neighbors. I visited all the neighbors and told them that all the work in the property is completed and that there should be no work trucks at the house. I also gave them my card in case they have any doubts or see anything suspicious they can call me. Now, this doesn’t eliminate the possibility of a neighbor actually being the culprit but what can you do?
- Have signs posted at the front windows with who to call in case of emergency including both the local police number and yours.
- If possible have a neighbor park a car at your house at night to give the impression that it is occupied.
- Use a portable security system. I paid $400 for the one I am now using which includes a wireless phone system that notifies the monitoring service through cell phone lines instead of land lines. An agent set it off by accident last week so I know it works. Will it stop a break in? I am not sure but at the very least is a deterrent.
Securing your foreclosure property investment will save you money, aggravation and time. I hope these free real estate investing tips that I learned the hard way prevent you from going through the same.
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