Nowadays, people shopping for a home think about how safe the neighborhood is when viewing a property. 

If you are currently selling a home, you want buyers to feel assured that the neighborhood is safe. But when a buyer sees multiple security devices like metal grates on your windows, bulky whole-house camera systems, and multiple exterior lights he might see red flags. 

At a time when young families are moving to suburban and rural towns they perceive to be safer places than cities to raise their children, and retirees are eyeing gated communities for the security they offer, it makes good sense to demonstrate how safe your property is. 

Let's look at the simple security methods that are effective, easy, and economical. And at the same time, are not signs of a dangerous neighborhood.  

In some markets, security devices like window grates and
entry intercom systems are necessary and the norm, not signals of
a particularly dangerous neighborhood. Photo: Homelight 

Video Doorbell 

Fortunately, today's wireless security devices are compact and well-designed so they aren't cumbersome or ugly. Secondly, having things like a smart doorbell is common. More people shop online and have packages delivered, and this trend has spurred sales of devices like video doorbells.  

The smart doorbell is today's techy amenity that could impress buyers. It doesn't signal that your neighborhood is unsafe, just that you like to see who is at your door or know when packages arrive. 

Especially if you are marketing your home to millennial buyers (aged 22 to 40) the latest tech security device is impressive. If you don't already have a video doorbell, don't let cost deter you because the investment is a good one. Systems range from $60 to $260, depending on whether the package you choose includes options like custom installation or many hours of video storage.         

Here is a review of all the available home security systems. Some companies offer professional installation and others pride themselves on being DIY-friendly. 

Google's Nest Hello is one popular smart doorbell because it 
gives clear, wide-angle video. Prices start at $150.    

Outside Camera

If you want the combination of an outdoor light and a camera, there's a product for you that offers lots of features. These lights typically illuminate more area than what doorbell cameras do, and can be placed in side yards or backyards or over a garage. 

Some models of photo exterior lights can be set to stay on for a certain period of time. If a light you install has this feature, it's best if your listing agent knows that this is a bonus. Some buyers might like the idea of a patio or a basketball court that's illuminated all evening for them to enjoy.    

I own a rental house in a solid, safe neighborhood. But when a young woman moved in, her dad was nervous about her living alone in a new city. I installed a motion-activated light and camera and everyone is happy. She can see on her phone anyone who approaches the house, even in the dark. 

Photo: Readers Digest

Outdoor lights 

Other exterior lights without cameras are designed to stay turned on for the safety of people coming and going, or for the drama they can add to the property, or for security purposes. This kind of illumination makes it difficult for mischief makers to approach the house unobserved. 

Landscape lights, which are smaller and sit low to the ground, make walkways safe but aren't helpful for security purposes. 

Some homeowners consider tall privacy fences to be deterrents to break-ins, but a U.S. Department of Justice study showed that burglars are more likely to target homes that have high fences and walls to shield them. If you have a privacy fence, outdoor motion-activated lights could make your home safer,  

Outdoor lights that are too dim don't offer protection, but
lights that are too bright can annoy your neighbors. 

Whole house security systems

Ask your Realtor what properties in your locale and price range are exhibiting as security features. If your competition is boasting about fancy security systems that cover the entire interior, there are DIY versions you can install yourself. 

One system is the $100 Ring plug-in camera. It lets you remotely check on your home and communicate with people there at any time with the Ring app. It plugs into a standard electric wall outlet, and can be wall mounted or left on any flat surface. 

The trend now is away from large outdoor signs like this one announcing a security system.
A window sticker is sufficient to deter criminals and is more  
suitable when your home is on the market. Photo: Stephen Rudolph   

If you are purchasing a new system and planning on selling your home soon, read the contract carefully to make sure you won't be required to pay for 3 years of service when you are moving in a few months, and you're not sure the new owner wants to (or legally can) continue the service. 

Before you commit to a home security company ask neighbors, friends, or relatives for recommendations. Check reviews on Nextdoor, Yelp, and any community listserves or Facebook pages for local opinions. 

Make yourself safer at home 

While your home is on the market you want to be realistic about your own personal safety while living there. Don't allow strangers knocking on your door asking for a home tour to enter, no matter how convincing their story. Allow only listed real estate agents show the property. 

Outside, make sure things like bikes, furniture, and gardening equipment are out of the path. Typical garden hose diameters range from 1/2 to 3/4 inches, just enough for you or a potential buyer visiting your home to trip over. If it's winter and snowy where you live, make sure walkways are cleared and not icy. 

Staging a home always calls for some decluttering and often the online purchase of some new accessories. Half of all Americans have access to curbside pickup for waste disposal, so take advantage of this service to remove any unnecessary items that could make your space feel cramped. Break down those cardboard boxes and stack them to conceal evidence of expensive buys. Crooks will cruise neighborhoods looking for evidence of a new electronics or pricey purchase. Have packages delivered to your office or to a neighbor who's home when you are not.  

If you are not living in your staged home when it is for sale, it could be a magnet for people looking for valuables to sell or pawn. Or for a place to move into as squatters! I have blogged about how to make a vacant home look lived-in

Get the look, get the book

It's possible that homes where you live don't require any security beyond locks on doors and windows. And maybe not even more than a big dog dish on the front porch! Crime gets more than its share of media attention. and the statistics can be frightening. According to statistics from the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program, Pennsylvania reported 39,228 cases of crime in 2019. But actually, crime rates have across the board remained level, and vary greatly from state to state, city to city, and neighborhood to neighborhood. Make sure your property is safe and looks safe, too. 

If you download my home staging eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast for Top Dollar, you'll get more advice on how to prepare your home for sale. Whether you want tips to speed up your decluttering, make cleaning easier, create rooms that look fabulous using what you have, or avoid all the common pitfalls of staging, you'll get all the step-by-step formulas and encouragement you need.

Top Photo: Home Depot