Buying a new house is always an exciting event, so several items are often overlooked when moving in.  Before you settle down, it is important to make sure that you can maintain the security of the home. Use these tips to make sure your home is safe for your entire family immediately after ownership is transferred to you.

1. Check the Fire Alarms
Even if the home appears to have working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms, it is necessary to check them yourself. Go around to each detector and press the test button to make sure it works. Since these small devices are critical if a fire occurs, replace old batteries or broken fire alarms as soon as possible.

2. Install a Security System
Security systems are one of the best ways to prevent robberies and other home invasions.  Having one can often decrease the amount you pay in homeowner’s insurance. Therefore, you should install one as soon as possible if the house does not come with a preexisting security system. All of the different options on the market can be confusing, but generally, you just need a wired security system monitored by a company that will notify you and local law enforcement if any break-ins or disruptions to the sensors occur.

3. Change the Locks
You have no way of knowing who might have copies of the keys to your new house, so re-keying the locks is absolutely crucial. This will prevent anyone you do not know from having access to your new home.  Also, many insurance companies will not cover a break-in if someone used a key to enter.  These are considered suspicious claims due to unforced entry.  Re-keying the home is very affordable because the locksmith will only need to re-key the cylinder of your existing locks rather than you purchasing new locks. Once you re-key the locks, we recommend the only people who should have keys to your home are the people living there and possibly one family member or friend who is entrusted with a key in case of emergency.

4. Updating a Preexisting Security System
Just like changing the locks, updating any preexisting home security system is a necessary part of securing your new home. If the home security system is through a monitoring service, you will need to call them to discuss continuing service with a new owner. They can help you to change the alarm code to a unique one and ensure the previous owner cannot access the system. Some homeowners may take the keypads and sensors with them when they move, but since the home would already be wired for an alarm system, it would be easy and inexpensive to get these essential parts installed.

5. Trim Back Overhanging Trees
Having trees and shrubs hanging by windows, doors, and balconies can pose a security risk. Not only do they provide a hiding place for someone wanting to break in or attack you as you approach the house at night, but some trees can even help would-be burglars climb to second story windows or balconies that are unlocked. Try to trim back any greenery that looks like it may pose a security risk.

6. Install Motion Sensing Lights
Having outdoor lights are a huge deterrent against crime because criminals do not want to be visible while breaking in. Some surveys found that up to 24 percent of burglars would pick a different house if they noticed that their targeted house had outdoor sensor lights. Unlike having outside lights that are permanently on, the sudden flicker of the motion sensing lights turning on can also alert you to someone approaching your house.  An added bonus is that this type of lighting also saves a substantial amount of electricity.

7. Get to Know Your Neighbors
If your neighbors know what you and the other residents of your home look like, they are more likely to alert the police if someone unknown is spotted inside or around your home. If you give them your contact information, they can also call you if they notice any problems with the house while you are away. The best time to introduce yourself is right after you move in, so do it as soon as possible.  Neighbors also are able to help when you leave for vacation by collecting your mail, turning on your lights and moving your car around to make it appear that someone is home.