Author Topic: Changing locks on a house after closing, from another state  (Read 1436 times)

GreenSheep

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Changing locks on a house after closing, from another state
« on: February 15, 2021, 11:01:50 AM »
With all the real estate investors here, surely someone has come across this.

(Edited to clarify: This is not an investment for us. It will be our new home.)

We're closing tomorrow on a house halfway across the US, and we're moving there in a month. I was never smart enough to consider changing the locks after closing on any house prior to this, but I think the tiny investment is worth the potential savings. I'm not just being paranoid and throwing money at my fear, am I?

It's a new construction home, so no one has lived in it. So at least it's not a foreclosure with potentially angry former owners in it. But I assume a million workers have had access to the lockbox containing the key. And with the ongoing construction and sales of other homes in the neighborhood, there are a lot of people in and out of the neighborhood all the time.

We don't know any of the neighbors, and we don't know anyone in the general area, so there's no one to check on it for us. Or to hire a locksmith. Is it possible to hire a local locksmith long-distance and just have them go over there, change the locks, and send us a bill? Or does someone need to be there to meet him? And then does he just have to hide the new key somewhere?

I don't know how people with a full-time job manage to sell a house, buy a house, and move across the country. I FIRED a little over a year ago, and juggling all this has been my new (at least part time) job!
« Last Edit: February 15, 2021, 11:32:33 AM by GreenSheep »

Duke03

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Re: Changing locks on a house after closing, from another state
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2021, 11:38:00 AM »
If it's a new build.  I'd ask the builder or the sale's person for the builder to pay for the locks to be changed....  Play dumb and claim you forgot to add it in the contract, but wanted it done and explain why.  I bet they cave and will change the locks just so they don't ruffle any feathers before you close.

yachi

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Re: Changing locks on a house after closing, from another state
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2021, 11:52:40 AM »
Congratulations on the new house!

Well, you aren't just being paranoid and throwing money at your fear.

Security is about tradeoffs: how quickly someone can get in, how quietly someone can get in, and how inconspicuously someone can get in, and how much you can spend keeping someone out.

There are *lots* of ways for someone to break into your new house when there's no limit on how much noise they can make, especially someone who built it, but what would be the point?  What is there of value other than building materials and maybe appliances they could take.

When you move in and have people, important documents, cash and belongings to protect, change the locks then.


iris lily

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Re: Changing locks on a house after closing, from another state
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2021, 12:10:55 PM »
If it's a new build.  I'd ask the builder or the sale's person for the builder to pay for the locks to be changed....  Play dumb and claim you forgot to add it in the contract, but wanted it done and explain why.  I bet they cave and will change the locks just so they don't ruffle any feathers before you close.

Isnít having the builder change the locks kinda like having the Fox guard the henhouse?

yachi

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Re: Changing locks on a house after closing, from another state
« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2021, 02:15:00 PM »
If it's a new build.  I'd ask the builder or the sale's person for the builder to pay for the locks to be changed....  Play dumb and claim you forgot to add it in the contract, but wanted it done and explain why.  I bet they cave and will change the locks just so they don't ruffle any feathers before you close.

Isnít having the builder change the locks kinda like having the Fox guard the henhouse?

I see this going one of two ways:
1) They do it, because they want to make sure you're happy.
2) They say they'll do it, but won't actually do it because you won't be able to tell the difference.

Then you'll be left wondering if it was done or not.

nereo

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Re: Changing locks on a house after closing, from another state
« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2021, 02:26:51 PM »
I'm not sure I understand what are you protecting against GreenSheep...

Presumably you have basic insurance to cover the (now empty) property.  As others have pointed out, there are a myriad of ways someone could break in, and locks are just one method.  If the builder uses his key to break into your property, that's still trespassing (and theft if s/he takes anything).  If the builder wante to break in with you not there I don't see how a door lock would really stop him/her.

Once you are living there, go to HD or Lowes, buy some new exterior knobs and change the locks yourself (all for ~$40/door).

what am I missing?

Mr. Green

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Re: Changing locks on a house after closing, from another state
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2021, 02:38:11 PM »
I think you're being paranoid. What reason would a tradesman have to go into the place after closing, especially if it hasn't been moved into yet so there's nothing to steal? Also, if other homes are being built and lots of people are coming and going that means a while bunch of eyes on the place. So less chance for someone to do something nefarious without being noticed.

GreenSheep

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Re: Changing locks on a house after closing, from another state
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2021, 04:09:49 PM »
Yeah, it's all about not having the easiest house on the block to get into. Breaking a back window and walking in is easy, but having a key is even easier. Also easier to come up with a story if you're caught red-handed. And the neighborhood activity... yes, lots of eyes, but also totally normal for random people to be walking into random houses.

My worry probably comes from this... My husband's dad was a general contractor who used to take "extra" stuff from his projects to put in his own house, and he had a VERY loose definition of "extra." I wouldn't put it past someone like that who has worked on the house to go back and steal lighting fixtures, plumbing fixtures, etc. for their own house, or to sell, especially if they had some kind of beef with the developer, the real estate agents, etc. (it's a small town -- people know each other).

So... why DO "they" recommend changing the locks immediately after closing, even before you move into the house? Is it just sneaky advertising for locksmiths? Because I will admit that I may be overly cautious, and it does make sense that there's a lot more to protect once the people and the stuff are in the house!

But... problem solved! I mentioned it to our real estate agent, and he said yes, it's definitely important to change the locks right away. He volunteered to meet a locksmith at the house after closing. But maybe he just has a good friend who's a locksmith looking for business?! (And I still won't have proof that they've been changed, but one could drive oneself crazy thinking of all the "what ifs." At some point, I have to trust someone!)

HydroJim

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Re: Changing locks on a house after closing, from another state
« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2021, 04:26:25 PM »
The reason people say to change the locks is because you don't know who has a key for the current locks. This usually applys to used homes. I've never evem thought about it in the context of a new home. In practice, I doubt a majority of people do it or that it's ever a problem. Probably every apartment on the planet doesn't get the locks changed with each new tenant.

For a brand new build, it seems pretty unnecessary... Plus if it's a place where they're building homes, I feel like crime is probably not a big concern. Could a disgruntled contractor have a key? I giess that's possible. At the end of the day, residential locks sold at retail stores aren't the epitome of security. Go try your key on the other new houses in the development. I bet your key opens up one of your neighbor's doors.

If people really want your stuff or want to harm you, residential locks and wood doors are easy to defeat. Not saying you should make yourself a target but sometimes you just gotta live life, relax, and have insurance.

If you really want to change the locks, why not just buy some locks and do it yourself? It's probably one of the easiest DIY projects you can do in a home.

NotJen

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Re: Changing locks on a house after closing, from another state
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2021, 04:29:12 PM »
I bought a new build, and never considered having the brand new locks changed.  Have lived here almost 15 years now, and no one's tried to break in yet (with or without a key).

I might be mis-remembering, but I think they used a temporary door/lockset when the majority of the work was being done, and then replaced the front door at the end of the building process.

Imma

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Re: Changing locks on a house after closing, from another state
« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2021, 04:36:37 PM »
I think you're being paranoid. What reason would a tradesman have to go into the place after closing, especially if it hasn't been moved into yet so there's nothing to steal? Also, if other homes are being built and lots of people are coming and going that means a while bunch of eyes on the place. So less chance for someone to do something nefarious without being noticed.

Well, an old friend had a house built in a new development, and when the house was still empty, their entire HVAC unit was stolen. It was removed professionally, probably by the same guy that put it there during the day. It was in the middle of winter so they couldn't move in before they had a new one installed. It had to be ordered for them and all in all it meant that they had to stay in their temporary rental for an extra month. And in the end their insurance didn't cover anything because in the small print it says they don't cover anything when the property is empty.

Other than that I can imagine people may be interested in brand new appliances and other shiny expensive things that may look good in their own house. But if your door knobs or your new microwave get stolen you can at least still move in.

My parent and I each bought a home around the same time and we swapped locks just to be sure. That way we didn't have to spend a fortune.

Cranky

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Re: Changing locks on a house after closing, from another state
« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2021, 05:59:25 PM »
Cant you just have the locks re-keyed? I donít think you have to physically install new ones.

Our new house has keypads, so we changed the combinations.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2021, 04:45:05 AM by Cranky »

GreenSheep

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Re: Changing locks on a house after closing, from another state
« Reply #12 on: February 15, 2021, 06:03:49 PM »
Cant you just have the locks deleted? I donít think you have to physically install new ones.

Our new house has keypads, so we changed the combinations.

Yes, our current house has keypads, and I don't know why anyone wouldn't use them, especially in a new build! They make life so much easier!

Another Reader

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Re: Changing locks on a house after closing, from another state
« Reply #13 on: February 15, 2021, 07:43:46 PM »
Get a locksmith to rekey as soon as you close.  Relatively inexpensive.

Does the house have window coverings?  If not, can you order them now, before you move?  Are the utilities on?  Can the agent leave a couple of lights on?

iluvzbeach

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Re: Changing locks on a house after closing, from another state
« Reply #14 on: February 15, 2021, 07:55:26 PM »
Iíve changed the locks before moving in on every house purchase Iíve ever made, whether it was new construction or a re-sale. In fact, weíre under contract now for a secondary home and we already have the new locks (push button) waiting to go on when we take possession.

To me, itís not about paranoia, itís about being able to sleep at night and feeling safe in my own home. I realize a break-in can occur at any time, but why would I risk allowing someone to easily enter with a key they had in their possession?

I came to post about having your realtor help arrange everything, but see youíve posted your solution above.

Mr. Green

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Re: Changing locks on a house after closing, from another state
« Reply #15 on: February 16, 2021, 08:34:53 AM »
They don't even put knobs on the exterior doors of new construction homes until after the drywall goes in. So that's framing, roofing, windows, HVAC, plumbing&gas, electrical, and drywall, in that exact order, where you couldn't lock the home if you had to.

I would absolutely change the locks once I moved in, but changing the locks on a brand new home that's completely empty? Wouldn't even cross my mind. Glad you found a solution that was simple though.

MissPeach

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Re: Changing locks on a house after closing, from another state
« Reply #16 on: February 18, 2021, 06:02:09 PM »
I've had to do this a few times now in my house but it wasn't new. I was in a similar boat in that the former owners just moved across the street and lived here for 15 years so I wasn't sure if anyone had extra keys.

My purchase came with a home warranty that did it for the service call ($75) so that might be worth considering if they threw in a warranty and you have a lot of doors and don't want to mess with anything dealing with a move.

I only have two keyed exterior doors and both are deadbolts so for the first time I just took the easy route and bought new ones at Home Depot for $30/each. In my house nothing was keyed the same or looked the same so I paid little extra to get everything in my house to match. Going through a builder this is probably already there.

If you can go for a few hours without locks (i.e., you're stuff isn't there yet) Home Depot and Lowes will rekey them for the purchase of new keys. In the last time I put on my old locks for an hour -and took my newer deadbolts in and paid $2/key and then re-installed the rekeyed locks.

If you know what you're doing or have something simpler like Quickset locks they have kits for like $10. I believe Quicksets can be done without a kit.

Also don't forget the garage if it's not manual.

norajean

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Re: Changing locks on a house after closing, from another state
« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2021, 08:05:38 PM »
Our recent sale was long distance and we were surprised the sellers, without notice, professionally  changed all the interior and exterior locks. A huge job involving a lot of locks. They actually removed some interior deadbolts completely which was sort of annoying.

nereo

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Re: Changing locks on a house after closing, from another state
« Reply #18 on: February 19, 2021, 04:38:50 AM »
Our recent sale was long distance and we were surprised the sellers, without notice, professionally  changed all the interior and exterior locks. A huge job involving a lot of locks. They actually removed some interior deadbolts completely which was sort of annoying.

Was this before or after the sale had been completed?

TomTX

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Re: Changing locks on a house after closing, from another state
« Reply #19 on: February 20, 2021, 12:50:46 PM »
Our recent sale was long distance and we were surprised the sellers, without notice, professionally  changed all the interior and exterior locks. A huge job involving a lot of locks. They actually removed some interior deadbolts completely which was sort of annoying.

The locks installed when you view the house should be the ones in place when you take possession. Otherwise, the sellers are likely in breach of contract.

norajean

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Re: Changing locks on a house after closing, from another state
« Reply #20 on: February 20, 2021, 01:17:12 PM »
Their so-called breach saved us a small fortune in rekeying costs.

TomTX

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Re: Changing locks on a house after closing, from another state
« Reply #21 on: February 21, 2021, 07:59:34 AM »
Their so-called breach saved us a small fortune in rekeying costs.

Last time I did rekeying, I just took the locksets to Home Depot and was charged $5 each.

Very small fortune ;)

nereo

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Re: Changing locks on a house after closing, from another state
« Reply #22 on: February 21, 2021, 11:11:33 AM »
Changing existing locks is about as easy a DIY project as a homeowner could hope for. New external lock sets start around $30 at most home improvement stores, keypad locks around $45.

Paying a locksmith to replace the locks is like paying a plumber to plunge a toilet - you are going to pay through the nose for something thatís easy to do oneself.

If you are worried about forced-entry, installing longer wood screws (~$1) or replacing the entire strike-plate with an armored version ($8) are both low-cost options that will make it much harder to force a door open.

HipGnosis

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Re: Changing locks on a house after closing, from another state
« Reply #23 on: February 22, 2021, 10:45:39 AM »
To me, itís not about paranoia, itís about being able to sleep at night and feeling safe in my own home. I realize a break-in can occur at any time, but why would I risk allowing someone to easily enter with a key they had in their possession?
Umm..  to not be able to sleep or feel safe, is a sign of paranoia...

iluvzbeach

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Re: Changing locks on a house after closing, from another state
« Reply #24 on: February 22, 2021, 09:01:31 PM »
To me, itís not about paranoia, itís about being able to sleep at night and feeling safe in my own home. I realize a break-in can occur at any time, but why would I risk allowing someone to easily enter with a key they had in their possession?
Umm..  to not be able to sleep or feel safe, is a sign of paranoia...

With all due respect, I completely disagree. The definition of paranoia, according to Merriam-Webster:

noun
para∑​noia | \ ˌper-ə-ˈnȯi-ə , ˌpa-rə- \
Collegiate Definition
1 : mental illness characterized by systematized delusions of persecution or grandeur usually without hallucinations
Psychotic symptoms and paranoia persisted, and she continued to "find clues" of conspiracy against her.
ó Helen K. Delichatsios et al.
2 : a tendency on the part of an individual or group toward excessive or irrational suspiciousness and distrustfulness of others
The members of America's racist right inhabit a murky world of conspiracy, suspicion, and paranoia.
ó Wayne King


nereo

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Re: Changing locks on a house after closing, from another state
« Reply #25 on: February 23, 2021, 04:42:59 AM »
Why?  It seems to fit definition #2 you provided..
Quote
a tendency on the part of an individual or group toward excessive or irrational suspiciousness and distrustfulness of others

norajean

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Re: Changing locks on a house after closing, from another state
« Reply #26 on: February 23, 2021, 06:10:49 AM »
Changing existing locks is about as easy a DIY project as a homeowner could hope for. New external lock sets start around $30 at most home improvement stores, keypad locks around $45.

Paying a locksmith to replace the locks is like paying a plumber to plunge a toilet - you are going to pay through the nose for something thatís easy to do oneself.

If you are worried about forced-entry, installing longer wood screws (~$1) or replacing the entire strike-plate with an armored version ($8) are both low-cost options that will make it much harder to force a door open.

You forgot to include the travel costs as the OP is far away. I was also. Plus I have at least a dozen locks all solid brass and steel Dryad brand made in England.

Linea_Norway

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Re: Changing locks on a house after closing, from another state
« Reply #27 on: February 23, 2021, 06:41:31 AM »
I think you're being paranoid. What reason would a tradesman have to go into the place after closing, especially if it hasn't been moved into yet so there's nothing to steal? Also, if other homes are being built and lots of people are coming and going that means a while bunch of eyes on the place. So less chance for someone to do something nefarious without being noticed.

Well, an old friend had a house built in a new development, and when the house was still empty, their entire HVAC unit was stolen. It was removed professionally, probably by the same guy that put it there during the day. It was in the middle of winter so they couldn't move in before they had a new one installed. It had to be ordered for them and all in all it meant that they had to stay in their temporary rental for an extra month. And in the end their insurance didn't cover anything because in the small print it says they don't cover anything when the property is empty.

Other than that I can imagine people may be interested in brand new appliances and other shiny expensive things that may look good in their own house. But if your door knobs or your new microwave get stolen you can at least still move in.

My parent and I each bought a home around the same time and we swapped locks just to be sure. That way we didn't have to spend a fortune.

DH says this is a common thing to happen in the Netherlands. Sometimes all the HVAC units in a whole row of new houses get stolen.

Also, in the past at least, house keys weren't so unique. DH's key fitted on my parents house, 15 km from his own house.

When I was a student, I changed the inner cylinder of the lock of the room I rented. That was pretty simple.