To arm or alarm?

One of the worst things about showing a house is when there is an alarm on it. Sure, the listing agent does their best to explain to you how to deactivate it, but that doesn’t always help when your heart rate is shooting through the roof and all you can hear is the “beep…beep…beep.”

At one house, neither the client nor I could find the keypad. So we set it off.

At another house, I made my client punch in the code.

Just recently, I came across a lockbox that, as soon as I opened it, said “alarm code 1524.” Just great. Thanks, dear listing agent, for putting a note into the MLS!

If you are a seller, what does an alarm mean to a potential buyer? We certainly know how I feel about it. But what about the buyer? This past weekend I took out a client who was from out of town. His comment? “Is this a bad neighborhood?” We were in the Berkeley Hills.

Here is the flipside: if a buyer walks in and sees the alarm pad, but it isn’t activated, they want to know if it works. They like the idea that their home could have an alarm.

But if it does have a working alarm, and it’s on, panic sets in.

My advice is to turn off the alarm while it is on the market. Is their something you are protecting? Valuable artwork? Jewlery? If so, you should be removing all valuables from your home anyhow as they could become damaged or stolen. Consider setting set hours for agents to bring clients to your home; during that time the alarm is deactivated. Then when you are home, activate it.

If you do not have an alarm, but are thinking about getting one, many home security companies will offer a free security assessment of your home. Most alarms companies charge an installation fee (I’ve seen them as low as $300) and a monthly maintenance fee. But if an alarm isn’t your forte, perhaps you should consider a dog.