Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Keeping Your Condo Secure

Research reveals that condo security is one of the main concerns for people looking to purchase a condominium. It’s no surprise that residents place a high value on feeling safe and protected within their home.

Thankfully, there are solutions to improve condo security. Check out these key pointers to keep you, your loved ones, and your belongings out of harm’s way.

Should You Invest in Condo Building Security Systems?

If you want to maximize the security of your condo, consider investing in a building security system.

Here are just a few reasons why a condo building security system is worth your dime:

  1. Prevention– Studies have backed up the effectiveness of security systems, specifically surveillance cameras, suggesting that they indeed reduce the number of low-level crimes, including automobile break-ins, burglaries, and vandalism.
  2. Monitoring- Security systems provide residents with a constant eye on their property, allowing them to surveil people entering and leaving home as well as keep tabs on any suspicious activity.
  3. Peace of Mind– Security systems safeguard one’s home, providing residents greater defense for a better night’s rest or worry-free trips away from home.

Once you invest in a building security system, the next big decision involves choosing between traditional hardwired alarm systems or wireless systems.

If you’re looking for convenience, a wireless system may be your best bet. These systems provide simple installation and easy placement. The portability of wireless also makes moving your security system a breeze.

Traditional security systems are still a good choice if your primary concern is reliability. These hardwired systems experience glitches less frequently because they don’t rely on sensors that communicate through radio frequency. Just be sure to keep up with battery maintenance.

How to Understand a Condominium Security Camera Policy

Condominium buildings are often managed by Homeowner Associations (HOA’s) or condominium associations, which generally enforce a condominium security camera policy. The policies balance maintaining resident’s safety and respecting their privacy.

An individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy in his or her own home, meaning your board, neighbors, or association should not and cannot be monitoring you within your private space. However, there is not the same expectation of privacy in shared or common areas, such as the lobby, stairwells, elevator, and hallways.

To determine exactly what your condo’s security camera policy looks like, you’ll have to go directly to the source, your local HOA.

Each building has its own separate set of requirements, and authorization for anything in a condo, specifically security cameras, requires strict approval within the building’s by-laws and rules.

Some condominiums allow residents to install outdoor security cameras as long as they don’t violate one’s reasonable expectation of privacy, while other buildings only permit cameras within one’s private residence.

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with your building’s security camera policy, you’ll be ready for camera installation.

When setting up your security camera, make sure the camera is facing downward at an angle rather than directly in front of a door. This ensures that you don’t capture footage of the interior of a non-public area without consent, which can constitute a violation of privacy and potentially result in a lawsuit.

To protect your security cameras, keep them out up high so they’re out of easy reach. Nine-feet off the ground is generally a sufficient placement for cameras. However, you’ll want to make sure the camera remains visible to strangers to scare off potential intruders.

What’s the Best Security Camera for a Condo?

When it comes to maximizing condo security, choosing an optimal security camera is an important decision. With so many different cameras and new technology on the market, finding the best option may seem overwhelming.

Around 34 percent of burglars enter through the front door, so an outdoor camera to monitor the entrance and deter criminals is crucial. Indoor cameras are also a great addition to provide extra surveillance.

Make sure to choose a camera that provides high-quality and expansive coverage. Outdoor cameras need to be durable, water resistant, and out of reach.

For a premium security camera, condo residents should consider the Reolink Argus. This outdoor battery-powered, motion detecting security camera is great for monitoring your front door, as well as the inside of your condominium.

Reolink Argus provides top-notch, wireless technology to keep your condo extra secure, complete with instant app push notifications, as well as email and sound alerts when someone approaches your doors or entrances.

Why You Should Look for Reserved or Private Condo Parking

Many condominiums in Chicago offer reserved or private parking in a garage or outdoor lot; and you may not want to pass up this deal.

These exclusive parking spots provide a safer and more convenient alternative to street or public parking.

Condominium parking lots or garages often have security cameras in use, which can deter auto theft and vandalism, as well as record any potential criminal activity.

Private parking helps alleviate the stress that can come with parking in a city by guaranteeing a spot for your vehicle. So naturally, this amenity comes at a price. However, if safety is a priority, it may be worth the investment for your own reserved spot.

If you’re interested in reserving a parking spot at your condominium, you’ll have to reach out to your HOA.

Since parking proves to be a common challenge for homeowner associations, it’s also important  to gain a good understanding of your condo’s parking policy.

How Can Your HOA Improve Security?

Optimization of HOA’s security should be ongoing. There are various precautions and steps HOA can take to ensure a safer space for residents, including quicker responses to threats or suspicious activity and advance security systems.

To gain insight on pressing security improvement needs in your community, HOA can conduct a comprehensive security assessment, either themselves or through a professional consultant.

This type of evaluation will provide multiple essential items including:

  1. The vulnerabilities and exposures on the property which either have led or can lead to security issues
  2. Effective solutions available to an HOA, as well as a planned course of action and anticipated costs
  3. A sense of confidence for the board and association management confidence in their means to achieve a safer community

Following the assessment, HOA will hopefully add security benefits to improve condo security and make the community a safer place to live. Depending on budget, these security benefits may include doorstaff, front door video systems, attached parking, and neighborhood watch programs.

If you’re eager to improve your HOA security, don’t be afraid to present the idea of a security assessment to your HOA board members. It’s highly likely they’d be willing to work with their budget to create a safer community and happier residents.

Security Tips for Single-Family Homes

If you’re not in the market for a condominium, we also have single-family home security tips.

During your search for the perfect single-family home, make sure to assess the security system before you purchase. Although you can always install a system on your own, finding a good security system already in place saves you time, money and stress.

At the tip of your fingers, you can access plenty of information regarding your potential neighborhood’s crime rate online. Areavibes is a great site to learn more about neighborhood safety and compare the crime rates in different areas.

Gated neighborhoods also offer extra security for single-family homes. These unique communities offer restricted access, safer streets, and strong neighborhood watch programs.

Once you find the perfect single-family home, you can further the security of your property by improving the visibility of your place, installing security mesh on the doors, and staying on top of keeping your garage and entrances secured.

In order to make your house feel like a home, you need to feel safe and well-protected. Make it a priority to maximize your condo’s security today!

Here are Some DIY Advertising Ideas to Help Sell Your Condo

First, Work with Your Real Estate Agent

Before we dig into our condo advertising ideas, remember that when you enlist a licensed agent to help sell your condo, they come with a full suite of marketing tools that allows them to present and market your home through a variety of channels.

Not only will your agent add your condo to his or her MLS, which creates an online listing for the property, but they will also ensure it gets added to popular real estate platforms like Zillow, Realtor.com, and others. They’ll share it on their firm’s social media profiles as well as their own professional profiles. It will be shared with leads and prospects through email marketing, targeting social media campaigns, and more.

Needless to say, real estate agents are professionals for a reason. They know how to market properties. Still, more awareness of your condo listing doesn’t hurt. So, we’ve prepared some DIY condo advertising ideas to help spread the word about your listing.

Next, Start with People You Know

Family members and friends care about you and should want to help you achieve your goals. That’s why they’re first up in our condo advertising ideas list. Why not arm them with the information they need to help you out?

Send them links to your condo listing, provide them with copies of any marketing materials your agent gives you, such as open house flyers, and more. Tell them some of the unique features of your condo. Tell them what it’s close to (if they don’t already know from visiting). Everyone has a social sphere, and someone in your family or friends’ circles might be just the one looking for a condo like yours.

Then Use Social Media to Your Advantage

It’s called social media for a reason, and that’s people! We’re all on it, our family and friends are on it, our coworkers — everyone. Whatever the platform, there’s someone there who’ll help you out, even if it’s something as basic as a quick, simple share of a post. Best of all, it’s free. While you can throw a few bucks here and there to boost a post with advertising, you won’t have to because those you’re connected with can just as easily help your post spread like wildfire.

Almost every social platform has a feature or function that can help support your listing. On Facebook, share photos and links to your condo’s online listing. Plan a Facebook Live walk-through, ask people to share it, then host it and stick around after for any questions. Create an Instagram story or Pinterest board with photos and/or video of the condo.

Finally, Host a Gathering

Your agent may plan an open house one weekend, or even a broker open where other agents visit your condo to see if it matches what their buyers are looking for. These events can get tons of traffic, especially since your agent will market the event date through all channels.

But you can still host your own gathering. Invite family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and anyone else that you think might be interested themselves or might know someone who is. Get your condo tidied up, provide light snacks and refreshments, and have information on your condo available for anyone that wants it. Just be sure to have your agent handy for any questions.

Time to Get to It!

These were just a few condo advertising ideas for selling a condo, but there are plenty more where that came from. If you’re looking to list your condo, tap our team’s expertise. As one of the top-producing firms in Chicago, we know what it takes to sell your home. Plus, we’ll throw in a few ideas you can put to work yourself.

Are You Ready for a Condo Association Special Assessment?

Assessing the Situation

Living in a condo in downtown Chicago is a great experience. If you already own one, congratulations — you made a great decision that not only helped build your credit as well as equity in your home, but you’re also now right in the heart of one of the best cities in the world! (And if you’re looking to buy a condo, you won’t get a better experience than right here.)

During your research, you probably came across something called an assessment. Similar to the homeowners association fees that single-family homeowners pay, condo residents have to pay association fees, called assessments, that go toward maintaining common areas, keeping up the building’s exterior, and paying for resident services. Assessments are typically paid monthly or annually, depending on your association.

But What About a Special Assessment?

What are these fees, and when are they required? A condo association special assessment is the result of a situation in which the association needs funds beyond standard dues. Maybe the current condo reserve isn’t sufficient to cover a much-needed repair, like roof damage, a long overdue parking lot repavement, or damage to the structure or property from a natural disaster. Condo association special assessments also arise when there are shortfalls in the association’s budget.

By buying a condo and paying your association dues, you’ve agreed to be part of the community and accept its rules and regulations. Unfortunately, condo association special assessments are part of this resident–association relationship. Ideally, they wouldn’t happen at all. But when they do, it’s important to keep in mind that it wouldn’t be happening if it weren’t important.

You’re well within your rights to be curious, though. Again, a special assessment could be required for extraordinary circumstances, but they can also arise if the association isn’t managed properly. If you have concerns, have a conversation with a board member or request information, which should be readily available to you.

The Limits on Special Assessments

Depending on your condo association’s governing documents, the frequency and amount of a special assessment may be limited. While the assessment will be explained to you, should one be required, you can always contact your association to learn more about it.

Questions about condo living? We’re here to help.

Our Tips for Staging a Condo to Influence Buyers

You Gotta Stage It to Sell It

There’s a lot that goes into selling a condo. Deciding whether you’ll actually sell it or rent it out, budgeting for the costs of selling a condo, and of course, preparing it to be listed. While you should always enlist the services of a licensed real estate agent to help you sell your condo, there’s a bit of work you can do upfront to help it attract buyers: www.

Staging can be done entirely on your own, or you can hire a staging company. If you haven’t moved out of the property yet, it may be worth it to invest in staging yourself. But, if you’ve already moved or need to move soon, a professional staging company can step in to take this off your plate (which is likely already full — and if it isn’t, it will be soon).

Staging a Condo on Your Own

The goal of staging is to present your home in the best light possible to help your condo sell faster and, if possible, for an above-asking price. Research has shown that staged homes sell up to 73 percent faster. Most people shopping for a home do so online well before visiting the property in person. So, it’s important that your home shines for all to see — before they actually see it.

  • Make it look like a home. People want to see how furniture, wall decorations, curtains, appliances, and more all fit into a space. Make sure your home is properly furnished. If you’ll be buying furniture for your next home, consider buying it now to help flesh out a living room or bedroom. You can even rent furniture short-term if you need to. Keep pictures, artwork, and decorations in place for photography before packing everything up.
  • Make it sparkle. People will notice a smudge here and there in online listings, along with anything else that looks dirty, worn, or stained. Do your best to clean surfaces, carpet, and woodwork. Get stains professionally removed. Use polish for wood surfaces and glass cleaner for (you guessed it) glass. Create nice lines with a vacuum cleaner. Clean up cobwebs and dust. Polish tile, stone, and ceramic surfaces. And make sure any stainless steel appliances are free from smudges and fingerprints.
  • Make it real. As we live in our homes over time, we can get comfortable with things being out of place or used differently than what might be considered normal. Consider the way your furniture, decorations, rugs, and so on are positioned in your home. Is that how someone moving in would position them? If something stands out or could be better positioned to make use of space, adjust it. Design rooms to make the best possible use of space.

Staging a Condo with a Professional

If you don’t have the time to stage your own condo, consider enlisting a professional staging company. Your agent will be able to provide some great recommendations. Professional home stagers are experts in what it takes to prepare your home for sale.

When researching them, or vetting those recommended to you, make sure they’re an Accredited Staging Professional (ASP). These individuals will have proven experience successfully staging homes for their clients.

But what do professional stagers do? Well, the goal is to help potential buyers view the home as if they were living in it. Part of this is depersonalizing, which removes elements that could be tied to you as the owner (e.g., family photos, named or other personalized wall decorations, and highly specific or otherwise non-neutral designs). Stagers also may repaint walls to more neutral colors, and may even come with a supply of furniture and decor to help fill a room to make it look lived in.

The cost for stagers can vary depending on the number of rooms requiring staging, if any work is required such as painting or landscaping, and so on. Expect anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand based on these criteria. Thankfully, staging a condo in Chicago shouldn’t cost you too much since condos don’t feature the square space, utility rooms, and exterior features of a single-family home.

Want to learn more about staging and selling a condo? Get started here.

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