When you buy, rekey or change the locks.

At a closing on Monday I was the listing agent and the property was a foreclosure.  Sometimes I don't attend these closing, but from time to time there will be a document that I have to sign or some original bill or I will have to carry the Earnest Money check from my trust account.  And the keys of course.  The buyers always like it when they can leave closing and go to their new home and get inside.

The closing on Monday went smoothly and when all the documents were signed the attorney left the room with them to make appropriate faxes of buyers signature to the seller and get the checks ready for disbursement.  During the time when the attorney was out of the room the selling agent gave the buyer a gift.  It was a really nice engraved key chain.  He turned to me and asked if I would pass the keys.

Of course I did, but I also suggested to the buyer that he re-key or replace the locks.  This home went into foreclosure several months ago and at the time I listed it I had it re-keyed.  Then late in the summer it was placed with an auction company.  The bank required me to give the auction company a copy of the key.  I did.  It didn't sell at auction.  Then in November the bank was in the process of placing it with a different auction company and although they never got an actual key from me, they did get the lockbox combination and have access to the key.

Sometimes when a property is a HUD foreclosure it's keyed the same as all the other HUD foreclosures in the state.  I have a "HUD KEY" that gets me into many different homes.  Can you just imagine how many homes that are no longer listed, but have been purchased and are occupied that my key still fits?  The Fannie Mae foreclosure I had earlier in the year gave me a key number to have it re-keyed to.  So I'm thinking they all have the same key also.  Again... I still have that key.  Now I'm not going to do anything bad or illegal with my keys, but you never know when I might get hit over the head and someone take my keys.

So even though it wasn't my buyer, I spoke up and urged the buyer to change the locks or have them re-keyed.  It just makes sense to me for your own peace of mind to go to the expense of doing this when you are likely making one of the largest investments you will ever make.  If it is my buyers I always recommend, even with a private sale to change locks or re-key.

Sometimes family members have key copies that are never collected, sometimes even neighbors.  It's a minor expense and well worth the investment to protect your home and your family.

And if you are one of those people who just really must have a hid-a-key at your home because you lock yourself out occasionally I don't recommend a fake rock or that you hide it in the grill or under the mat or under the plant by the door.  They sell lockboxes at Lowe's and Home Depot for about $30 and that's a much more secure way to have a key outside your home than in a fake rock.

To me putting a fake rock with a key next to your door is like leaving your car key under your windshield wiper while you grocery shop.  Your home is your castle, and while maybe a mote isn't needed, I really think you should be smart about your key.

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Tammy Lankford, Broker/Owner


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Comment balloon 86 commentsTammy Lankford • December 17 2009 12:34PM
When you buy, rekey or change the locks.
At a closing on Monday I was the listing agent and the property was a foreclosure. Sometimes I don't attend these closing, but from time to time there will be a document that I have to sign or some original bill or I will have to carry the Earnest… more