I was out with a buyer one recent weekday morning and we had just pulled up to the first house. I was under the impression this was on a non-standard lockbox, and had not written down a code, so I called the office to confirm. Nope, on a Supra lockbox, so no code needed.
We are checking out the adjacent properties, and the condition of the exterior of the property, waiting for her other half to show up.
Open the lockbox, and open the door, only to be greeted with the BEEP BEEP BEEP of an alarm system.....
I HAVE NO ALARM CODE! NO ONE TOLD ME THERE WAS AN ALARM!
Of course, my first thoughts are to close the door (as though that will do something to shut the alarm up!), and call the listing office.
Now, at this point, I've called the listing office a total of 3 times and at no point did anyone tell me this property had an alarm system.
I know this is a sore point among sellers and agents, and it's pretty much divided into two camps:
- Why can't the Realtor just deal with the alarm system, and re-set it when they leave?
- Why can't the seller just turn the alarm system off for showings?
I, personally, do not care for alarm systems; I'm not "wired" to immediately turn something off when I enter a house, so for me, it actually does require more planning. I know others who are as surprised to walk into a property and not find an alarm.
- Find a comfort level for your seller that makes them part of the decision making process. It could be that the alarm could be easily deactivated for weekday showings.
- Ensure that you have alarm system indicated in the private showing remarks in the local MLS; why? That way I know I should ask about it. Your employees working the showing desk at the listing office are fielding hundreds of calls, and are trying to keep all of those callers happy, and yes, they may overloook it. This way, I can ask about it, and everyone's happy.
- Confirm you have the 100% correct code, and steps to de-arm, and re-set the alarm system. Most of the time, it's the asterisk then alarm code, or alarm code, and then off, but without all the steps, I can't intuit how to deactivate your alarm.
- If the property is vacant, ask if the alarm system is really, truly necessary, or just a habit the homeowner has. In this case, the property was 95% vacant, so it was evident the seller was not living there. In my mind, was the alarm REALLY necessary? Probably not.
- Educate your sellers that the alarm will be set off, more than once, during showings. It really has nothing to do with the showing agent getting the correct info, or the showing desk personnel giving the right info. The showing agent in all likelihood has never been in the house before, and even with all the correct info, there could be additional time to get to the unknown location of the control pad, the overlooked asterisk or enter button, it's just gonna happen.
Thanks for reading - hopefully, I helped at least one other Realtor with how to effectively show homes with alarm systems!