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Q: I am a single woman ready to buy my first home. How can I be sure that the one I choose has the right security and is in the right area for me?

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A: If you find an area you think would suit you, visit it at different times of the day and week. Things can look very different after dark or at the weekends.

 You should also try to get feedback from neighbours about how they feel about living there. Get the local crime stats from the community policing forum, a local security company or local estate agent.

There are no completely crime-free areas but you need to look at what type of criminal activity is occurring. While modern live-play-work precincts are attractive, avoid suburbs that have become mixeduse over time, unless they have a co-ordinated community security system.

Studies show that crime tends to be higher in areas where homes have been converted to businesses or demolished to make way for shops and offices as it is hard to distinguish which non-residents are just hanging around and which are actually there on business.

If you want a freehold home, choose one in a street with good lighting. Also examine the safety features of any home you view. Things like burglar proofing, security gates and alarm systems can, of course, be installed after purchase but the costs can quickly mount up.

If the home you like is at ground level, look out for an attached garage with a door leading directly inside. – Gerhard Kotzé, managing director of the RealNet estate agency group


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