Tricks to Protect Your Home While Away

Real Estate Sales Representative with William Raveis Real Estate

Just about everybody I know seems to be on vacation this month and, just coincidentally, the Insurance Information Institute reports that the majority of home burglaries occur in July and August when many people are enjoying time off. According to that same agency, nine out of 10 home break-ins could be prevented if homeowners would take simple steps to burglar-proof their homes.

Of all the years we lived in our home, we didn’t invest in a sophisticated security system until just a couple of years ago. Less than 20 percent of households nationwide have security systems, and the rest of us must take other precautions to discourage break-ins while we’re away from home.

How well I remember the discomfort combined with the relaxation of every vacation while we were traveling, especially if it were for periods of more than a week. In the early days, I remember that we would call home and feel comforted to hear our answer machine just to know that everything was still “there.” And when returning home, there would always be that anxious moment when we were turning on to our street and my wife and I would turn to each other and ask, “Is the house still standing?”

We had good reason to be nervous Nellies, having sustained two break-ins when we lived in the city, so we developed a whole litany of devices to make our home less appealing to burglars which I list here, combined with other ideas combed from other sources, some of which are really creative. For those who don’t have security systems, consider the following:

Lock all the Doors and Windows! This may seem unnecessary to even mention but 28 percent of all burglaries occur without having to use force to gain entry. Burglars simply find an unlocked window or door, so be sure to double check all the windows and deadbolt all exterior doors. Place a metal or wood dowel in the track of sliding glass doors. And, if you have a spare key hidden outside, make sure it’s brought inside while you’re away

Hire a House Visitor/Sitter: It’s well worth the investment to have someone pick up the newspapers daily (if you haven’t had them temporarily discontinued), water the plants and, if you have them, take care of pets.

Invest in Timers: To make your house look lived in, utilize timers to have the lights go on and off at various times throughout the day.

Unplug and Disconnect: Unplug all electronics and small appliances that don't need to stay on while you're away. This will save electricity and reduce the risk of fire. Turn off your garage door opener so thieves can't open it with a universal remote. If you'll be away for a week or more, turn your hot water heater down and consider turning off the water to sinks, toilets, dishwasher, and the washing machine to avoid possible flooding.

Don’t Close Blinds: Leave them and curtains open. If something valuable is visible through the window, move it.

Light Up at Night: If you have outdoor lighting, make sure that your timer turns it on while you’re away.

Maintain Your Lawn: If it’s an extended trip and you normally maintain your lawn yourself, arrange to have a service take care of it while you’re away.

Leave Your Car in the Driveway: Or, invite your neighbor to pull in and out of your driveway to keep activity going on there during the week.

Don’t Leave a Voicemail Message: Don’t tell the world you’re away by leaving a message to that effect on your voicemail.

To read more tips, click here. Bill Primavera is a Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate and Founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc. ( His real estate site is, and his blog is To engage the services of The Home Guru to market your home for sale, call (914) 522-2076.

Comments (8)

Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers
Serving the Greater Phoenix and Scottsdale Metropolitan Area - Scottsdale, AZ
Haven Express @ Keller Williams Arizona Realty

Hi Bill Primavera 

Thanks for a great post featuring useful advice to homeowners heading out on vacation!

We like your writing style!

We wish you great success with your blog posts and networking with other members of Active Rain!

We clicked the “Follow” button on your profile so that we will be alerted to your future blog posts and can read and comment on them, and we invite you to "follow us" - should you be interested. There is no requirement or obligation for you to do so, but we would be honored if you choose to do so!

Aug 08, 2016 06:25 AM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

These are all valuable tips, I would say I'm surprised I haven't followed you sooner. You close enough to my city clients.

Aug 08, 2016 06:34 AM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Before I forget, feel free to follow me back. I like your ideas in general. Looking forward to more!

Aug 08, 2016 06:36 AM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH@Properties - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Hi, Bill.  Half of Washington, DC is at one of the nearby beaches, and we're seeing everything from supercharged alarm systems to motion detectors on front porches that set off recordings of vicious dog growls. Your approach is a bit simpler and quite smart.

Aug 08, 2016 06:40 AM
Pat Champion
John Roberts Realty - Eustis, FL
Call the "CHAMPION" for all your real estate needs

Great post and valuable tips to follow when you have to leave town. Thanks for sharing the tips I hope you have a great afternoon.

Aug 08, 2016 07:08 AM
John Pusa
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Crest - Glendale, CA
Your All Time Realtor With Exceptional Service

Bill Primavera These are very good tips to protect a home while away.

Aug 08, 2016 11:20 AM
Rose Clark, Realtor, ABR, GRI
Alain Pinel Realtors - Carmel, CA
Inspiring & Passionate Real Estate Professional

I think it's so important to have a house sitter when going on vacation. A smart investment when traveling out of town for sure.

Aug 09, 2016 02:52 AM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Bill, absolutely great tips on what to do to keep your home safe while away.   I have several timers and doesn't look any different than when I am home.

Aug 25, 2016 12:18 AM