For anyone who works with vacant property in economically distressed areas—property managers, asset managers, rehabbers, real estate agents—the material used to secure and protect property is a big deal. And according to a recent study, most of these professionals overwhelmingly put their trust in steel.
The study by Door and Window Guard Systems (DAWGS)  found that property professionals tend to agree with the firm's own faith in the benefits of steel over alternative materials when it comes to securing vacant property.
According to the survey, nearly 86 percent of respondents said they prefer a steel board-up to wood or clear plastic—each of which was favored by exactly 7.14 percent.
"The survey validated much of what we have been promoting about the benefits of steel for strength, security, and accessibility to vacant property," the report stated. "The survey also allowed us to gain insight into the vacant property security concerns unique to each stakeholder."
Though most property professionals agreed on the best choice of security material, the security issues agents, owners, and investors were most concerned about varied.
Real estate agents' top concern was safety when showing a property, according to the study. For rehabbers, the main concern was theft of materials or tools from the job site. Meanwhile, investors and asset managers were concerned about liability in the event of fire or a crime at the property.
Overall, liability was the largest concern. Three-quarters of respondents cited it as a major worry. In general, 68 percent said theft of materials was a big concern, while 71 percent cited specifically the theft of copper wiring as the main worry on vacant property sites.
About the same number of respondents said they were concerned with squatters and drug users on site. Meanwhile, 57 percent said they worried about the safety of agents showing a property.
Half the respondents cited image-oriented issues—the worry about how a foreclosed property is perceived in value and the desirability of letting passers-by be able to look inside, something they are unable to do through steel, the report found.