10-Point Security Checklist for Keeping Your Property Safe When You Travel

10 point security checklist

Travelling — whether domestically or internationally — should be a joyous occasion; one that isn’t riddled with worries about what’s going on back home. And while there are certainly no guarantees, there are a number of effective ways to reduce property crime and theft while you’re away from home. Here’s your simple 10-point checklist for keeping your property safe when you travel:

1. Remove Valuables
While there are many ways to reduce the risk of theft, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. This means it’s important to consider ways to minimise the effect of a burglary if your home security is breached. A good idea is to remove small valuables from your home, such as jewellery, spare keys, and any credit cards you’re not taking with you. You could ask a friend or family member to care for these items while you’re gone or arrange for a storage locker to keep valuable items safe until your return.

2. Install Security Cameras
Security cameras such as CCTV systems are commonly used to record instances of crime, but research suggests that simply the presence of such technologies can be enough to improve home security. A study by the Department of Justice and Community Safety’s Community Crime Prevention Unit concludes that CCTV can ‘reduce crime in residential settings‘ and minimise property-related crime. CCTV can also provide peace of mind to homeowners who can monitor their cameras from any connected location.

3. Close Windows and Doors
If you’re travelling towards the end of the summer months, you may have entered into the habit of keeping your windows open overnight to let the cooler temperatures into your home. And while this is one of the best ways to stay cool without using an air conditioner, it does mean you’ll need to be extra vigilant to ensure that all doors and windows are not only closed but also securely locked before you leave. Securing clear entry and exit points such as those are essential for keeping your property safe.

4. Secure Alternative Entry Points
It’s not just doors and windows that can provide easy entry and exit points to your property. Before leaving on your travels, be sure to consider any other point which could be a vulnerability or weakness. This could include rooms of your home which have their own separate entrance, such as a garage or guest house. Also think about any outbuildings you may have, such as sheds or pool houses, which may contain valuable items and prove to be high target areas for potential criminals operating in your area.

5. Set Up Security Lights
Contrary to popular belief, most home security breaches occur during the day, when homeowners are less likely to be present. Thieves are often deterred by the potential presence of the homeowner, so it can be highly effective to create the illusion of occupation while you’re away travelling. Automated security lights are an excellent way to do this. Before leaving, set up the lights to turn on and off throughout the evening. Some systems also allow you to control this using a smartphone or tablet.

6. Restrict Access
Although it is essential to lock all external doors and windows before vacating your property, it can also be a good idea to lock internal doors, particularly doors that are located in high-value areas of the home. Reports show that rooms located on the second storey of a property are typically most likely to be targeted, as these rooms are often bedrooms and studies that contain small, valuable items. By restricting access to these parts of the home, you could reduce the impact of a security breach.

7. Cancel Subscriptions
If you’re planning on being away from your home for a while, you may wish to cancel or pause any subscriptions. Regularly, scheduled deliveries of milk, newspapers, or other items can begin to build upon your doorstep or within your porch area, suggesting that the occupants are not home. If you do not wish to cancel subscriptions, or are unable to do so as part of your contract, you may wish to ask a trusted friend, family member, or neighbour to bring any items into your home on a regular basis.

8. Arrange for Maintenance
Depending on the time of year, and how long you’re planning to be away for, you may wish to arrange of regular maintenance of your garden or yard areas to give the illusion of the property being occupied. Unmown grass and overgrown weeds can suggest that the homeowners are not present. A friend, family member, or a neighbour may help out, or you may wish to employ a professional service. However, be discreet when arranging services, and do not provide more information than is required for the purpose.

9. Test Alarms
Security alarms which detect forced entry or movement within your property can work very effectively, particularly if they are connected to a security service who can take action and attend your property during a breach on your behalf. However, these systems are only as good as the person who maintains them. Before travelling, always ensure that all security alarms are in good working order and, if possible, test them for peace of mind. Also be sure to test fire and gas alarms before vacating the property, too.

10. Check Home Insurance
Although home insurance cannot directly keep your property safe and secure while you are travelling, a good and valid policy can help to reduce the impact of a breach should the worst happen. In the unlikely and unfortunate event that a property crime does take place while you are travelling, you may be able to recover some of the financial loss through your insurer to minimise recovery time. Always be sure to not only check your contents insurance but also building insurance to cover any damage during entry/exit.

Worry-Free Travel
The truth is that property crime can — and does — happen, but it is much easier to minimise the risk, and reduce the impact of a home security breach, simply by following the easy 10-point checklist above. By taking the necessary precautions before you set off, you can enjoy a relaxing, worry-free getaway.

About the author
Kirsty Morbidelliis the U-Store-It Facility Development Manager whose years of experience in the industry allows her to develop and design customised and tailored self-storage training platforms that U-Store-it’s professional storage consultants use to better understand their clients’ needs before providing solutions to suit residential, business and corporate customer’s self-storage needs.

Auction Wrap For The Week Ending 16th February 2020

There were 717 Auctions scheduled In Victoria this  week and of the results collected thus far a clearance rate of 79.2 % has been recorded. This is the highest volume of auctions for a week in 2020. Although consumer spending is down the real estate market appears to be strengthening week on week.

At OBrien Real Estate there were Auctions scheduled in 9 different suburbs with a Clearance rate of 75%.

Top 8 Bathroom Trends for 2020

Bathroom trends 2020

Bathroom Ideas for the Designer and Renovator

1. His and her Private Vanity Mirror Divider
A practical and very popular decor choice in many bathrooms as two sinks are better than one. With a double vanity set up, two people can easily prep and use the same bathroom without any fuss as there is ample space for both them and their items. The mirror being the important centrepiece, your focus should be on that first-make it as elegant and stylish as you desire and your vanities will only help to accentuate that feeling. This is also popular as it makes your vanity the primary focus of your bathroom, giving you some flexibility in how the rest of your items are placed as everything else is more of an accent to your double sinks and your mirror.

2. Matte FixturesBathroom matte finishes
An increasingly popular trend, matte black is a bold and powerful colour, easily striking and visibly noticeable. The demand for matte finished countertops, sinks, cabinets, bathtubs even ceilings are on the rise and it doesn’t seem to be diminishing anytime soon. With matte finishes, dirt and dust are not visible and the material is not easily permeable. So consider matte black if you want to give your bathroom a modern look that won’t easily be forgotten.

3. Water Efficient Toilets
With water usage being a concern not only for the environment but for your wallet, water-efficient toilets are on the rise. Although the water bill savings is approximately 15-20 dollars a year, it is recommended to get a water-efficient toilet if you are installing a new toilet as in the long run, you are reducing the total amount of water used, which will greatly affect both your water and sewage bill through the years.

4. Plants to Accent Bathroom Color
For many people, a bathroom is an oppressive place. Full of stone, tile and steel, it can be quite drab at times. Fortunately, you can easily throw in a touch of green to make things much more appealing. Even just a small plant on the countertop can make the area more vibrant and alive. Also, in addition to helping your mental view of your own bathroom, many plants actually grow better in your bathroom due to the low light, high humidity and general warmth that a bathroom typically has. So experiment, throw in an orchid or two, or perhaps some pothos to add some air-purifying strength to your bathroom or even something as simple as a basil plant can do wonders for your space.

5.Hidden Storage
A very popular trend with very practical applications as space and storage is always a premium in any bathroom. The concept is taking an existing item in your bathroom, ie, your cabinets, vanities, shelves and applying another storage area within it. Your vanity, for instance, you can add small specialized compartments to the existing drawers inside for more personal items that won’t mix with your other bathroom items. Your shower curtains can be fitted mesh space organizers, giving you easy access to your soaps and shampoos while saving space and being well hidden from sight. Hidden pull Out stools is another popular addition, giving those in your home with a height disadvantage an easy way to grab items from higher up if necessary.Hidden storage space bathroom

6. Sound System-Music
Music is always a welcome addition, but for some of us, it is often a necessity for relaxation and de-stress. Adding just a few small speakers in localized areas around your bathroom can create a calming and relaxing environment for a long, relaxing bath or even make your showers more invigorating. There are quite a number of waterproof speakers on the market for very affordable prices, so if you feel your showers are missing something, perhaps try adding some music into the mix.

7. Freestanding bathtubs and sinks
A bathroom classic that doesn’t go out of style and it’s quite easy to see why as they match any bathroom decor with ease whether you want a more modern look of stone resin or something more classic like clawfoot or copper. Though they may appear pricey, both freestanding bathtubs and sinks will increase the value of your home as well as retain their value through the test of time.

8. Minimalistic Luxury 
Home bathroom trends are increasingly beginning to emulate styles seen at boutique hotels and luxury spas. Inspiring a calming mood and retreat-style luxuriousness, the trend promises both personality and timelessness.
The less-is-more take on a luxe bathroom calls for pared-back palettes and statement finishes. Opt for freestanding vanities and bathtubs that promise longevity, and add a five-star finish with beautiful tapware. Keep the main colour scheme simple and allow elegant tapware to shine. Phoenix Tapware’s Vivid and Vivid Slimline range offers a wide variety of combinations, ensuring every bathroom style can achieve the look.

Portable Gardens for Renters and Tenants

Portable vegetable garden

Grow your own vegetables or plants

Do you rent but love gardening and watching plants grow from the seed? Then it would be practical to invest in a portable garden. So, if you have to vacate the premises you can take your lovely garden with you. There are many ideas and solutions on how to do this. The first thought is to simply grow everything in pots right? We will list our top 2 ideas here that may give you other options and ideas on how to make your garden movable.

1. Vegepod
Number 1 on our list is the Vegepod. An Australian company that offers an all in one garden growing system that is portable. Their product sits above the ground so it is free from insects and bugs. It has a permeable mesh retractable roof cover which filters in the light, air and rain. And, you can attach a hose that sprays a fine mist over your little garden. The water system saves you up to 80% of your normal water usage. The entire system sits on 4 legs that you can attach wheels too. This is also a great educator for younger family members on how to grow your own food.

2. Polystyrene Boxes or Wicking Box
This is the budget portable container vegetable growing system. But, you can grow beautiful veggies if you give them care. All you need are the following items and you have a very efficient growing system that works.

  • A polystyrene box
  • Gravel
  • Plastic pipe
  • Hessian sackcloth
  • Electric drill
  • Topsoil
  • Plants
  • Mulch

How to make a wicking box: method
1. After cleaning the box, we bored two holes in its sides, about 1/3 from the bottom. These are overflow holes so that if the reservoir floods the soil doesn’t become waterlogged.
2. We cut the pipe to size so that, when standing it up in the box, it was about 15cm above where the final soil line would be. Then we drilled a bunch of holes in the bottom third of the pipe. This will be how the water gets into the reservoir.
3. Standing the pipe straight up, we filled the box 1/3 full with washed gravel
4. We laid in a piece of the hessian sack, cut to size to fit in the box. This acts as a permeable barrier between the water reservoir and the soil.
5. Next, we added a sieve mix of soil and compost to 10 cm below the top of the box.
6. Then we planted some herbs.
7. Lastly, we filled the reservoir with a hose down the pipe. Once the water started dribbling out the outlet holes we knew the reservoir was full. Then we gave the soil a light watering to settle the new herbs in, mulched the top, and stood back.
8. At any time you can check the water level in the reservoir by looking down the pipe. Once it gets a little low, top it up and off you go again!
Wicker plant box

Melbourne Property News Edition 3, 2020

Week Ending 26 January 2020

OBrien Real Estate checking in with our third edition of the “Property News” for 2020.

Let’s kick off with the important data just released by the REIV, the December quarter figures reveal the median house price for Melbourne has now hit $859,500 which is a 3.7% increase from the previous quarter, also released was median rentals prices at $460 per week which now brings the average rental yield at 2.9%

In economic news, the weekly ANZ Roy Morgan consumer confidence report achieved its highest reading since December and the International Monetary Fund is now predicting growth at 3.3% compared to the 2.9% achieved in 2019. Home loan data was released late last week, which saw a rise of 2.2% in investor loans.

In the coming weeks’ attention will be turning to the Reserve Bank when it releases its Interest rates decision on Feb 4, with 55% of the countries’ leading economists predicting a cut of 25 basis points.

Auction Wrap For The Week Ending 26th January 2020

Early New Year Auctions again proved to be a good idea with the second consecutive week of 100% clearance for the team at OBrien Real Estate. Our Southern Peninsula office in Rye contributed the highest number of auction sales this week producing outstanding results.

The forecast for strong results and clearance in the first quarter of 2020 seems to be coming to fruition.

Melbourne Property News Edition 2

Week Ending 19 January 2020

OBrien Real Estate checking in with our second edition of the “Property News” for 2020.

The sales activity across Melbourne Metro is still in a little bit of a holiday mode, but the Indicator of interest thus far is pointing to a prosperous 2020. There has been a stronger than usual inquiry from homeowners wanting to get an update on the value of their home. Each year in January, real estate agencies often provide more updates than usual via market appraisals on the price homeowners are likely to achieve. So far this year we are finding it is definitely busier in that regard. We believe the reason for this comes from the spike in homes prices over the last 6 months. This ultimately has renewed people’s optimism and we are seeing people change from a holding pattern to now making plans and progressing their property aspirations plans in 2020 and beyond.

Economic news this week has seen Aussie Stocks set all-time highs on multiple occasions on the ASX, which like real estate price growth can be mainly attributed to the cheap liquidity in the market. The tax cuts stimulus introduced with the change in government also helped see the biggest lift in retail spending in November for over two years.

The good news seems to flowing in at the moment with the US Trade Deal officially getting ratified last week which will now avert President Trump’s attention to his re-election campaign which will help keep volatility away from global markets as Trump wows his voters.

An important piece of data released last week by The Australia Bereau of Statistics was that across Australia, 201,317 homes are currently being built which is down from the record of 231,416 homes from March 2018, however the construction and building industry is still frantic with its attention now on the many infrastructure projects and commercial work in the markets.

OBrien Real Estate network report card.

OBrien Real Estate founded at the beginning of the decade has posted it’s milestone numbers for the year during 2019 this week, capping off a successful decade for the group which started as a single office in Berwick to now be 27 offices with over 300 staff. OBrien Real Estate now has offices across most metropolitan regions of Melbourne as well as on Phillip Island.

The group’s original founders, Dean OBrien and Darren Hutchins are still as active today in the business as they were when they first started the business. Joined by Stavros Ambatzidis in 2013 the business then grew to 4 offices before franchising across into multiple areas throughout Melbourne.

The numbers on the 2019 report card indicate a tale of two sides in 2019 with the first half being an extremely difficult trading environment particularly for sellers, however after the May Federal Election market confidence began to return and momentum built strongly after the three consecutive rate cuts from June 2019.

Weekly Property News Insights

O'Brien Real Estate weekly property insights

Property News Insights

Welcome to week one of our Weekly Property News Insights for 2020, before cascading into the property insights, I wanted to let you how proud we are of our Charity at OBrien Real Estate, our OBrien Real Estate Foundation which is backed by our staff, family and friends in raising much-needed donations for Bushfire Relief. To date so far, our team have raised over $12,000, with a target of $50,000 that we hope to end up achieving.

Now, jumping into the property news. Typically at this time of the year, there are not as property sales occurring, however, there are many crystal ball property forecasts for 2020 occurring and it is our view that in 2020 we will see much more of the growth we saw in the second half of 2019 and most of the growth will be fuelled by investors who in 2019 accounted for less than 25% of total sales which is, in fact, was the lowest participation level on record.  Investors are no doubt being lured back by the potential of bigger capital gains and the low-interest rates. The next major catalyst for market growth will come from the first home buyer with their new incentives, which we believe will impact on demand through most suburbs through both apartments and detached home sales.

The most popular place to buy for first home buyers in 2019 was, in fact, the postcode of 3064 in the city’s outer north, which encompasses the suburbs of Craigieburn, Donnybrook, Roxburgh Park, Kalkallo and Mickleham. Just over 2600 homes were purchased with buyers forking out $38.1 million. Postcode 3064 was then followed by Hoppers Crossing, Tarneit and Truganina with 2112 homes bought. We also saw Point Cook, Werribee and Cranbourne also rank in the top 10.
In other market insights over the Christmas / New Year and following on from stage 1, China / US Trade Deal we saw our biggest trade partner in China make
an announcement from the Peoples Bank of China on its website stating that its banks’ reserve requirement ratio, which basically is the amount of cash that banks must hold as reserves is reducing by 50 basis points, and about a week thereafter China also released its inflation figures which put its annual inflation at a 7 year high. Both courses of action is positive news for our economy.

Fresh new building approvals numbers were released this last week and new home builds rose by 11.8 per cent in November which is the biggest lift in 9 months to
14,675 units. However, approvals are still down by 3.8 per cent from a year ago.

And lastly, in closing and a little off-topic, the banning of mobile phones across all public schools in Victoria comes into play in 2020, we see this as a very positive move for our all our current school learners and future generations entering the public schooling system.

New Pool and Spa Regulations in Victoria

Swimming pool rules and regulatons Victoria

New Laws to Improve Swimming Pool and Spa Safety

On 1 December 2019, new laws to improve swimming pool and spa safety came into effect in Victoria.

As of 1 December 2019, it will be mandatory for owners of the land where a swimming pool or spa is located, to register their pool or spa with their relevant council. In addition, owners are now required to obtain and lodge a compliance certificate for the safety of their pool or spa barrier every four years.
As summer begins and Australia starts to heat up, the Victorian government has introduced stricter pool regulations aimed at reducing child drownings.

The new mandatory safety regulations will apply to anyone with a private pool or spa with more than 30cm of water – and they come into effect this weekend.

From December 1 2019, owners will be required to register anything that falls above this threshold with their local council.

Government Statement

The Government has stated that “The new regulations require owners to register private pools and spas with their local council including, all permanent pools and spas and most relocatable ones capable of holding water to a depth greater than 30cm. If the inspection finds the barrier is non-compliant, the owner has up to 60 days to bring it up to code – serious cases of non-compliance will be referred directly to the council for follow up actions.

Owners will need to engage a registered building surveyor or building inspector to carry out an inspection and issue the compliance certificate.

Reducing Swimming Pool Risk

These rules may seem demanding but they are for good reason. In the last 19 years, there have been 27 deaths. Having a non-compliant pool resulted in 20 of these fatalities.

Once a pool or spa is registered, the local council will notify owners of the due date for the first certificate of pool barrier compliance. Owners are required to arrange an inspection and lodge the certificate with their local council by the due date.

SPASA Victoria CEO, Chris Samartzis, applauds the Andrews Government for bringing in this new legislation that will ensure the safety of all Victorians.

“Backyard pool and spa owners can now relax and enjoy the fantastic lifestyle that comes with pool and spa ownership, knowing that their wonderful asset will now be safer than ever. This legislation will help focus attention on a critical component of pools and spas. The regulations allow for a low-cost environment to deal with mandatory barrier inspections and we applaud the state government for a well thought out piece of legislation.” says SPASA Victoria CEO, Chris Samartzis.

Registration of pools and spas

Victorian backyard pool and spa owners have until 1 June 2020 to register their pool or spa with their local council. The maximum fee that a council can charge is $31.84.

For pools and spas constructed prior to 1 June 2020 that have an unknown construction date, an information search fee may be charged, up to a maximum of $47.24.

Pools and spas constructed after 1 June 2020 must be registered within 30 days after issue of an occupancy permit or certificate of final inspection.

Inspection and lodgement of the certificate of barrier compliance for pools and spas

  • For pools and spas constructed on or before 30 June 1994, a certificate of barrier compliance must be lodged by 1 June 2021
  • For pools and spas constructed between 1 July 1994 and 1 May 2010, a certificate of barrier compliance must be lodged by 1 June 2022
  • For pools and spas constructed between 1 May 2010 and 31 May 2020, a certificate of barrier compliance must be lodged by 1 June 2023

For pools and spas constructed on or after 1 June 2020, a certificate of barrier compliance is due within 30 days of an occupancy permit or certificate of final inspection. This certificate must accompany an application for registration. The next certificate of compliance is due four years after registration.

Hefty fines will apply for pool and spa owners who do not register their pool or spa.

The fee for lodging a certificate of pool and spa barrier compliance will be up to a maximum of $20.50, with certificates of compliance being required to be lodged once every four years.

Pool owners will have 60 days to bring their pools into compliance if an inspector identifies any non-compliant safety concerns.

These new regulations also introduce a new class of registered building inspector: Building Inspector (Pool Safety). This new class of building inspector will be limited to carrying out inspections and associated functions for the purposes of the new regulations only.

The state government introduced this new scheme after numerous coronial investigations found that un-maintained and non-compliant pool barriers had contributed to the deaths of children in backyard pools.

The Victorian Coroner recommended strengthened pool safety laws after investigating several drowning cases.

“As the peak body of the swimming pool and spa industry in Victoria, SPASA Victoria is delighted that these new safety measures will increase the enjoyment of pool and spa ownership for all Victorians”, said SPASA Victoria CEO, Chris Samartzis.

For more information visit www.vba.vic.gov.au/consumers/swimming-pools