Sally Malsch, CRS, GRI, ABR, SRES, ePRO
Five College REALTORS ® | 413-519-4465 | sally@sallymalsch.com


Posted by Sally Malsch on 1/10/2018

Homeowners have become increasingly aware of the dangers that face them and their homes. More Americans than ever lock their doors at night and own home security systems to protect themselves and their homes from intruders.

However, one danger that many homeowners aren’t prepared for is posed by scammers. These scammers are innovative and use tools like the internet and the semblance of authority to their advantage. What’s more, the nature of their scams is always evolving.

In this article, we’ll cover some of the most common scams affecting homeowners. We’ll talk about how to protect yourself from these scams and recognize them so that you and your home can avoid potential disaster.

Foreclosure scams

There are few things more concerning to a homeowner than the thought of losing their home. Scammers take advantage of these fears by promoting “relief programs” that promise to reduce your monthly payments or otherwise protect you from being foreclosed on.

The scam here is that these companies might not help you at all but will still charge for their services. They’ll often browse public foreclosure notices or post ads online. When they reach out to a homeowner they’ll do so via a letter that seems personal and professional. They could also call your phone or send you an email offer.

By U.S. law, such companies cannot charge you for any services unless they successfully help you gain relief from your lender, and even then you must still accept the offer before the relief company can ever charge you.

Home maintenance and repair

One of the more dangerous scams on our list involves something seemingly innocent--a knock on your door to let you know your roof needs repair. While some startup companies may go door-to-door offering their services, most of the time this should send up a red flag. There are a few potential scams that come in the form of a person in work uniform knocking on your door.

First, a company might be selling real services, but they could be services you don’t need. Make sure you understand facts about your home, such as the last time your roof was repaired. This will help you avoid making a bad deal to replace something that doesn’t need replacing.

Also be sure to never let someone into your home, regardless of their uniform, if you are alone or it’s late at night. Someone may be dressed like a salesperson or utility worker, but they could in reality be doing research on your home and your valuables. Would-be burglars can often spot your valuables, and see how secure your home is before coming back when no one is home.

Protect your identity

The issue of identity theft has been in the public eye with the rise of online communications. However, one of the easiest ways to steal your valuable information could be sitting right in your mailbox or in your garbage can.

Always be sure to shred papers that have personal information on them. And, if you go away on vacation, ask a neighbor or relative to bring in your mail for you. Not only will this help keep your identity safe, but it will make it look like someone is at home by keeping the pile of mail and newspapers outside low.  




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Sally Malsch on 5/10/2017

It sounds surprising, but as it is with bodily crimes, burglaries are often conducted by people who live near you. Another surprising home invasion statistic is that many burglaries happen during the daytime, the very time when many people are away from home. All it takes is 10 minutes for a burglar to get in and out of a house, running away with several hundred dollars worth of your electronics, jewelry and other goods.

The layout of your home is key when making home security considerations

Effective home security systems, home security products that are hidden and in plain sight, can help deter would be home invaders. But, before you buy home safety products, you need to make important home security considerations, thinking about items like:

  • Where all door entryways are in your house
  • Whether or not you have a pet door (and if you do have a pet door if you really need the door)
  • Location for all of your windows (and if your windows open from the inside, outside or both)
  • Potential ways to enter your home from the top and bottom of your house (for example, could someone enter your house through the attic or the basement)
  • Distance between your house and nearby roadways, wooded areas and other properties
  • How close trees and bushes are to your house and whether trees and bushes could serve as hiding spots

Your patterns play a role in home safety

Before you contact a home security company, also think about you and your family's patterns. Your patterns are important, because several home invasions occur while someone is in the house. Thinking that your presence might stop someone from forcing his way inside your home could cause you to become careless.

You might leave a window on the second floor up while you're working in the basement or cooking in the kitchen. Or you might leave the front door open while you vacuum, dust furniture or put groceries away. This could be just enough time for a burglar to invade your home, grab valuables and exit.

Home safety products that you install yourself, the types of home safety products that are sold at house goods stores, tend to be less expensive. You can install these products and forego monthly security fees. If you take this route, consider going with products that are wireless, send text or email alerts and allow you to see inside your home while you're away.

It's also a good idea to install home security products that put you in contact with first responders like the police and fire department within seconds. Make sure that there is a back-up option should the security system shut down during a power outage.

Above all, make sure that you install the system properly. If you get home security through an established home safety company, try to avoid long term contracts. Ask company representatives if the products go off when pets enter certain areas after the alarm system has been turned on. And teach everyone in your house to turn the alarm system on even if they are in the house.




Tags: Home Security  
Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Sally Malsch on 3/18/2015

The Security of the home is a point of paramount significance to all homeowners.  Burglary is one of the most common crimes committed in the United States. It is estimated that every 15 seconds, someone falls victim to this felony. Knowing that a criminal has violated their personal living space,  homeowners can become fearful and feel insecure in their own homes.  Worrying about whether or not your home is safe can affect the whole family's feeling of security.  Together, the family can make some simple changes that may help deter a felon from entering their home. Helpful hints to secure your home against burglary: Do not leave valuables lying around in plain sight, inside or outside of the house. This could be an open invitation to thieves.  Personal belongings that would be tempting to a burglar should be kept out of sight in a secure location.  There is a wide variety of home safes available today that provide secure storage.  It is also important to protect your belongings outside of the home.  Leaving expensive items such as toys, bicycles, or tools unattended in an easily accessible area of your yard is an unsafe practice.  The criminal mind is always looking for a quick pick ! Be aware of how much personal information your trash can provide. After purchasing a new appliance or electronic device, avoid placing the box in its entirety out with your trash. Cut it up, place it in a large trash bag, or bring it to a recycling center. To a criminal this is great advertisement that there is an brand new plasma TV in your house! Burglars tend to come around when no one is home.  If they get the impression someone is home, it discourages them from entering. Therefore, when leaving the home, it is best to create an illusion that someone is still there. Leave on some music, a lamp by your favorite chair and maybe your coffee cup on the table.  When you need to be away from your home for an extended period, the use of timers on the inside and outside lights will improve the authenticity that someone is actually home.  The minimal amount of electricity that you will be burning to implement these safety measures will be well worth it if you can deter a break in. Securing all possible entry points of your home is also key.  Older sliding doors and windows may need to be secured with an extra measure of protection as some can be easily popped off.  Bulkheads and basement doors need to be locked and secured to avoid easy access.   Window air conditioning units can be easily removed allowing quick access if not installed securely.  An unlocked door on an attached garage can be open invitation to a criminal.  Keeping your doors locked may not deter all break ins, but it is a simple step to take in making your home more secure. Although it may seem like a good idea to leave a spare key under the doormat, this type of behavior should be avoided.  Most burglars are aware of the common hiding places and will quickly locate your "hidden" key.  A safer option is to give a spare key to a trusted neighbor or friend. You can keep a spare key hidden in your vehicle or secured with a combination lock somewhere outside of the home.  Remember, never place any information that identifies your house on the key just in case it ever ends up in the wrong hands. There are many things a homeowner can do to keep their home safe.  Fortunately there is also a wide variety of home security systems available for individuals that desire a higher level of security.  Taking the preventative measures that you can and seeking the guidance of a security system professional is the best way to confirm your home secure.