It's Alarming!

Real Estate Agent with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Florida Network Realty BK 3030920

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.....


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:

  1. Why can't the Realtor just deal with the alarm system, and re-set it when they leave?
  2. 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.

My recommendations:

  • 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!

Posted by

Carol Zingone is a full service Broker Associate proudly affiliated with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty in Atlantic Beach, FL.  I help buyers and sellers locally, regionally, and internationally.  With hundreds of happy buyers and sellers over the course of my career, I'm thrilled to help first time buyers, military buyers, seniors, investors, 1031 exchange properties, short sales and REO's.  I have spent hours honing my expertise, including the designations of: Graduate Realtor Institute (GRI), Loss Mitigation Certification (LMC) , Short Sales, Foreclosures, REO's, (SFR), and Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES).  I pride myself on providing excellent expertise to all buyers and sellers. Search the MLS via  for Jacksonville and area listings!



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Ed & Tracy Oliva
West USA Realty - Arizona - Fountain Hills, AZ
The Oliva Team Arizona Agents

Carol, I think this is some Info for all of us that show homes,keep up the good work and good luck in 2012,  E

Apr 25, 2012 08:50 PM #1
Richard Weisser
Richard Weisser Realty - Newnan, GA
Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional


Like you I get in a panic when I hear the beep beep beep ... even if I have the code. Because I still have to find the panel and correctly enter it before time runs out.

Kind of like difusing a bomb!

Apr 25, 2012 08:50 PM #2
Donna Yates
BHGRE - Metro Brokers - Blue Ridge, GA
Blue Ridge Mountains

Honestly, if the listing agent would just do their job right, that would eliminate the majority of the cause for this to even happen.  Then, the flip side is the showing agent needs to make sure they read all of the info. Although, I will be somewhat understanding, it is very frustrating when agents are laxed about this sort of thing. Carol, like you, it doesn't come to me automatically on how to shut off an alarm or even where it's located, very nerve racking when you have a siren blasting away not to mention embarassing in front of customers.

Apr 25, 2012 08:55 PM #3
Donna Yates
BHGRE - Metro Brokers - Blue Ridge, GA
Blue Ridge Mountains

Carol: Love Jacksonville Beach BTW. Lived in Mandarin in the early 90s. Use to run over to Jax Beach all the time.

Apr 25, 2012 08:56 PM #4
Wallace S. Gibson, CPM
Gibson Management Group, Ltd. - Charlottesville, VA

I have several rental homes that have ENUNCIATORS on the door entries to alert the residents when doors are open * as in children leaving the home * and they need to be explained that they are NOT alarms.

I ONLY have one property with an alarm and that was an insurance requirement for the owner because of their electronic equipment.....UGH!

Apr 25, 2012 09:03 PM #5
Marnie Matarese
Showing you the best of Sarasota!

Always a shocking start to the day to enter a home that you had no idea was alarmed.  I don't have a problem with the actual alarm, just not being advised that there is one.  And, I read every word of the MLS listing as well as the attachments and yet, it still happens.

Apr 25, 2012 09:36 PM #6
Fred Hernden, CMI
Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area - Albuquerque, NM
Albuquerque area Master Inspector

Most alarm systems can be set up with a "guest" code for visitors. If they felt the need to have their alarm on, at least they could have done that and posted it on the listing.

Apr 25, 2012 10:08 PM #7
Joe Petrowsky
Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709 - Manchester, CT
Your Mortgage Consultant for Life

Yikes, that is surely something that should have been shared, unless that thouth the proeprty would never be show. This should not happen.

Thank you for sharing the post with all of us.

Apr 25, 2012 11:04 PM #8
Christine Smith
Buyers Brokers Only LLC - - Canton, MA
Exclusive Buyer Agent & Attorney, Canton, MA
Carol...I agree. That should be specified in the showing instructions to a buyers agent, at minimum, with specific details. Like you, I have a mini anxiety attack when I read that there is an alarm that I need to deal with. Luckily most I have run into have been deactivatd for showings.
Apr 26, 2012 01:23 AM #9
Pacita Dimacali
Alain Pinel - Oakland, CA
Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA

Yep...happened to me, too. No instructions about the alarm. Fortunately, the next door neighbor has learned to disarm the alarm, after having been disturbed too many times.

Some realtors put the instructions inside the lockbox....but then, it's so easy for agents to take out the instructions and then forget to put it back when they lock up.

If the realtor or seller want to keep the alarm armed, then the instructions should be on the MLS. Since most of us have smartphones, we can access the MLS that way.

Apr 26, 2012 03:44 PM #10
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Carol Zingone

Global Realtor in Jax Beach, FL - ABR, CRS, CIPS
Questions About FL, Beaches Homes? Ask Me!
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