Living in South Africa, security is always a key concern for potential property buyers and tenants, says Robert Bell, Managing Director of Frankie Bells Real Estate.
And yes, security does affect property prices. “The reason why buyers are so specific about buying in the sought-after areas is due to those communities taking a pro-active role in mitigating crime. The areas that have invested in CCTV cameras, 24-hour guards and boomed access tend to achieve higher property values,” he says. The same is true for rental properties, with many prospective tenants actively seeking out homes or apartments already fitted with alarm systems and other security measures like burglar bars, electric fencing or situated in gated communities and complexes.
He explains that interested buyers always ask about crime related to the premises and the suburb with break-ins, attempted break-ins and violent crimes being top of their enquiry list. “Our buyers generally want to know about access control (boomed estate or gated complex), beams, electric fencing, 24-hour guard, and armed response. Single entry/ single exit areas with signed-in access for non-residents are a real drawcard.”
Fidelity ADT’s Managing Executive, Stuart Clarkson, says it’s great that potential buyers are seeing the value in an integrated security solution and pro-active measures. “Sophisticated security systems historically used by big corporates are now being adopted by private residential clients. More people are using systems that include CCTV cameras, remote surveillance, and other perimeter security systems such as infrared sensors. Home automation systems where residents can monitor their property remotely and respond to alerts in case of an emergency are also growing in popularity,” he says.
He adds that neighbourhood watches are also installing camera networks as part of the security systems they put in place, which have proven to be hugely successful.
The big advantages of camera systems are the access to views of areas that may not have previously been available and the supply of crucial evidence that can be used in the apprehension of criminals.
“We have seen the best success stories in areas where residents have not only put in home security measures but suburb solutions and get actively involved in neighbourhood watches and resident associations,” he says.
The most successful areas are those that work very closely with security companies in order to foster strong partnerships. Fidelity ADT has a longstanding relationship with many residents associations and community forums, and actively helps to drive these types of community security initiatives into an area. “Over the past few years we have invested heavily in many areas to assist communities to assist with crime prevention, and work hand in hand with these communities to tailor-make a solution that is fit for purpose,” Clarkson adds.
Bell says, from his experience, around 70% of people are involved in some way with their neighbourhood security. “It obviously differs from area to area with some people very actively involved in their neighbourhoods, other less so, while some want to be kept informed, but do not want to be a part of the administration. If a security-related matter has a direct impact on them, they would usually be involved and be prepared to contribute financially to the cause.”
“Community forums really do help retain property values and reduce crime. We would like to encourage residents to get involved in their communities and crime prevention initiatives. Not only will it curb crime but could also boost your selling price when the time comes,” he concludes.