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Alarming moments in real estate

Posted by Rona Fischman November 10, 2009 02:41 PM

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House alarms cause me a lot of tension. On two occasions in my career, I have tripped an alarm and could not get it to go off. Once it happened because I couldn’t figure out the right series of buttons to push. (The code was obvious, but the set/go button was unmarked. Really!) Once I walked in to an alarmed house without foreknowledge that there was an alarm. Another time, I opened a porch door during an open house and the alarm went off.

Two out of three times, the police came. Both times, I gave them my business card and they left. That’s a thought for would-be house thieves…

This brings me to today’s topic. Home security.

I find that my buyers react strongly to the presence of alarm systems. Only a few simply ask how to reactivate it after closing. Most get suspicious. Other things that raise similar hackles are excessive locks, bars on windows, bars across basement doors.

Frequently, an alarm indicates a home that is frequently vacant. Sometimes it is also connected to medical or fire alerts. Sometimes it is “expected” in an area (everyone has one, so the house without one is vulnerable.)

Did the presence or absence of an alarm system affect you when you were house hunting?

Not far from towns where I see lots of alarm systems, I see unlocked houses. It is not unheard of for me to get showing instructions from an agent that go something like this: “the side door is unlocked. Leave it unlocked when you leave.” I hear about sellers who had to buy new locks when they put their house on the market; they never lock their doors, so they couldn’t find the keys. They only needed to lock it because strangers were coming in and out.

Would you leave your doors unlocked if you knew everyone else in the neighborhood did? Would living in a place like that feel safer to you?

How do you determine safety of a neighborhood? Is it about noise? About house burglary? Car vandalism? Crimes against people? All of the above? What cues would make you think a house is safe?

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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