Life Events

Life events pose a unique challenge because each is a new or infrequent occurrence for which many people have little or no prior experience.

For many, buying a home is the single largest transaction that we will ever make.

Not only is the mortgage likely to draw off a considerable chunk of our paycheck for up to 30 years, but the care and maintenance of a home is equally consuming.

Here is our advice on this topic.
/ Housing / Buying a Home /

Changing the Locks
The home buying process is finally over, the real estate agent or the former owner drops the keys in your left hand, shakes your right hand, and wishes you good luck. What should you do next? With all due haste, change the locks, of course.

The least of your worries, probably, is that the former owners kept copies of the keys and intend to make an unauthorized entry at some future date. However, they may have lost a key or given a key to someone else (neighbor, relative, friend, or workman) and forgotten to get it back. Rather than take a chance, have a professional locksmith change your locks.

This is also a good opportunity to do a "whole house" security audit. Begin by asking the local police what security measures, including what types of locks, they suggest. While they may not be willing (or permitted) to recommend specific locksmiths, a good police department can advise you on how to choose one, including the sort of certification or licensing that you should seek. Among other things, look for locksmiths who are bonded against dishonest acts. Reliable contractors and homebuilders, as well as home inspectors, should have their own opinions on security, and you should ask them to refer you to a quality locksmith. Also ask for opinions about what reasonable measures you can undertake to deter break-ins through the windows, since blocked at the door, a determined thief may try the window as Plan B.

Of course, once you have found a locksmith with whom you are comfortable, ask his (or her) advice on what types of locks to use. Based on what you also have heard from other knowledgeable sources (the police, contractors, etc.), you need to make your own decision on what level of security seems most appropriate for your location. In particular, ask about obtaining keys that are not supposed to be copied without your express approval. These theoretically prevent someone to whom you have lent a key from walking into a locksmith and ordering a copy with no questions asked. Understand exactly how this security measure works. Does the design of the key (or the
logo on it) signal professional locksmiths about this feature? How are you registered as the rightful owner, and how do you prove this to a locksmith (especially if you must visit someone other than the one who made the original for you) when you need a copy?

If you are buying a new home, whether or not it is custom built, deal with the matter of locks and security before finalizing the purchase. Seek to have the types of locks that you want installed before you take possession. That way, the keys dropped into your hands will be the ones that you really want. Finally, ask hard questions about what guarantees you have that unauthorized copies are not in hands of dishonest workmen.
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