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Picking The Right Locksmith, And What To Look For

Picking the right locksmith, and what to look for.

I am reading lots of articles about crooked locksmiths.  This problem has cropped up in recent years.  You need a locksmith and do an Internet search and a local phone number pops up.  And you think you are calling a local locksmith who miraculously says he can come right over.

What may have happened instead is that you have been routed to a clearing house in another state that sends someone to your house who is not licensed and has no idea what he is doing.  And later your house is visited when you least expect it.  And the visit happens with or without a key to your house.

The locksmith industry is alarmed by this trend.  And necessarily!

You have become easy pickings!

The locksmith industry thinks the solution to this is -- 

                        CONSUMER AWARENESS!

Can I cut through the clutter and list some things you can do to be more aware?  These are some things to look for when the locksmith shows up, in no particular order.  If you see some or all of these things, get another locksmith!

  • He shows up in an unmarked car - BIG RED FLAG.
  • There is a local phone number, but no local store locations.
  • He does not have the "right tools for your job."
  • The business has a generic, innocuous name:  Locksmith USA
  • There is only one, or maybe no, local store locations.
  • He demands cash payment.
  • The final bill is substantially more than was quoted over the phone.
  • He doesn't speak English.  Businesses that deal with the public send people who can communicate.
  • The work is shoddy looking.
  • The final bill presented has a business title with an address in another state, or has a generic "INVOICE" with no address or phone number.
  • Instead of picking the lock, he recommends drilling out the old lock set and putting in a new one.

My locksmiths (I use two) have many store locations in many local cities.  I started bowling with one of them in 1987 and have used him often ever since.  They both have excellent reputations and are licensed.  Not all states require licenses for their locksmiths.  Hopefully yours does. **

My recommendation:  Don't get taken for a ride.  And certainly DON'T put yourself in a position to get visited at a later date by someone who is not coming over to help you with your lock problems!  Do research and get a good guy to your house.  Not someone you will come to regret!  And good locks are another layer against the possibility of burglars getting into the house.  Pick a good lock and a good locksmith to install it.

**  Only 15 states require locksmith licensing:  Alabama, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

 

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 43 commentsJay Markanich • January 21 2019 02:32AM

Comments

We only have a couple of locksmiths here and they are very reputable Jay Markanich .

Posted by Bob "RealMan" Timm, Owner of Ward Co. Notary Services, retired Realtor (Ward County Notary Services) 9 months ago

Glad to see that Oregon is on the list.  I have had two bad experiences with locksmiths.  I offer to get a new lock put on the buyer's house after the sale closes and they have "the key".  Both of the problems I had were fixed but why did it take two trips???

Posted by Susan McCall, Independent Listing and Buyer Agent, Bringing buyers and sellers together! (Compass Realty Solutions) 9 months ago

These are some good things to look out for when hiring a locksmith Jay. I found a terrific locksmith several years ago & refer him to all my clients. Also good to see NC on the list of locksmith's needing licensing.

Posted by Debe Maxwell, CRS, Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods (www.iCharlotteHomes.com | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310) 9 months ago

This is a topic I don't believe I've seen discussed before on ActiveRain.  And, it is exceptionally valuable to know and understand what you have warned about.

Posted by Myrl Jeffcoat, Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent (GreatWest Realty) 9 months ago

That's the key, Bob.  Pun intended.

Susan - without careful due diligence the bad experiences can be really bad.

You have to be able to trust those you bring into your home, Debe.  And especially someone who does not have a dark ulterior motive.

Myrl - I try to post real content here, useful stuff.  Sadly very few see or read my stuff anymore.  Things have changed dramatically on AR in recent years.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 9 months ago

Good stuff, I am sure this goes on more than any of us realize! We are going through trying to pass legislation for licensing us HI's. Maybe it will trickle down.... wait, that never works! 

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) 9 months ago

Jay, you could do the same type of post about roofers when major storms hit cities. They come from outside the state and bilk the public. I always let my clients know that in every aspect of owning a home we have local recommended people.

Posted by Joe Pryor, REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties (The Virtual Real Estate Team) 9 months ago

Fred - don't think it will improve the quality of the home inspectors!  It ruined the industry in my state.

Joe - I have had probably a dozen such posts as this is a big pet peeve of mine.  Here are a couple recent ones:

https://activerain.com/blogsview/4950905/it-was-the-hail-storm-roof-damage-scam-guys

https://activerain.com/blogsview/5123915/when-unprofessional--roofers--have-never-heard-of-osha

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 9 months ago

Very informative post Jay.  As always with your  posts, I learn something new that is also very useful.  Keep up the good work!

Posted by Stephen Weakley (Nationwide Mortgage Services) 9 months ago

I'm glad you do, Stephen.  I think many could gain info here, but unfortunately few people even read my posts!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 9 months ago

Thank you very much, Jay, for sharing this important information.

Posted by Roy Kelley (Realty Group Referrals) 9 months ago

That's what I do, Roy.  Thanks.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 9 months ago

Jay, learned that lesson a few years ago when I locked my keys in the car. Guy that showed up (from a call to AAA) in an unmarked car charged me twice the price I was quoted. Never again...

Posted by Donald A. Masters (Master Home & Building Inspections, LLC) 9 months ago

Donald - sounds like you were charged AAAs price and the cut for the locksmith!  Once my wife locked herself out of the car on the interstate and I told her to call the police.  They got into her car for free.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 9 months ago

Hello Jay - this is certainly an eye-catching post title. Valuable content too. "Worth stealing?" might be an interesting question to ask...

Posted by Michael Jacobs, Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393 9 months ago

Thanks Michael.  I suppose you could reblog it.  Not sure it's worth stealing... says he with a wink.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 9 months ago

I have some horror stories about rogue locksmiths....  it's easy to get taken advantage of when you've locked yourself out of your home, and it's raining, and the kids are crying.

Posted by Alan May, Helping you find your way home. (Jameson Sotheby's International Realty) 8 months ago

Hi Jay-that's odd because I'd have thought that the prudent thing to do would have been to call a locksmith.  We are having our house rekeyed so I'm going to pay close attention to who shows up at my door. 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) 8 months ago

That would never happen, Alan.  Wait!  It happened to my wife!  She was locked out and so overwhelmed with kids and such she forgot about the key we had hidden in the yard and instead called a really schmuck locksmith!  It did not go over well.

Kathy - it's far cheaper to take your locks (door knobs) to the locksmith and have him do it in the shop.  It is very quick, and very cheap by comparison to having them come to the house.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 8 months ago

What a great post! I had never heard of such a thing

We only have one locksmith in town now and we have to go get him because he doesnt always want to drive especially if the weather is bad!

Posted by Debra Leisek ( Bay Realty,Inc Homer Alaska) 8 months ago

Locked doors.... ha. What an interesting concept. Like Debra Leisek ... our one and only locksmith is semi retired and we just don't have the chains, dead bolts and security systems in small rural downs where your the only thing a locked door does is keep out an honest person. Jay Markanich , never worried or was suspect of the only two locksmiths I knew and used in our Northern ME area but your post points out the potential for bad apples. Replacing a quick set door knob ourselves... makes using a locksmith an once in a blue moon affair.

Posted by Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573, Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker (MOOERS REALTY) 8 months ago

I guess that's the advantage of living 2500 miles out in the ocean.  Locksmiths HAVE to be honest on this island.  In 40 year's, have not had a problem with a dishonest locksmith. BUT...have had a few that charged too expensive.  We just did not hire them again.

Posted by Bruce Hicks, Your Lifetime Friend/Helper! (Best Homes Hawaii) 8 months ago

Great post and good reason to have a great list of service providers!  I have a couple of locksmiths I use and refer to home buyers.  When you need a locksmith it is usually NOW!  Great suggestions to be sure you don't get scammed!

Posted by Shirley Coomer, Realtor, Keller Williams Realty, Phoenix Az (Keller Williams Realty Sonoran Living) 8 months ago

Locally I have my go to man. But recently traveling across the State in my real estate duties, A bank called for me to list a REO. I was over that way, so stopped by to check. It was vacant and they wanted the locks changed asap to secure it. The lock was elaborate, more than I could handle. I started to search for a local locksmith and found this scenario. a local number, re routed to a national place if it was even in this country, then non English speaking man asking for my credit card, my address etc. No way, no how. After that I actually bought a lock smith supply from an auction. I change my own locks now and can avoid these types of people

Posted by Scott Godzyk, One of the Manchester NH's area Leading Agents (Godzyk Real Estate Services) 8 months ago

Debra - I've never heard of going somewhere to pick up a vendor to help me, but you are in quite a different area!

Andrew - those locks are next to nothing.  See my recent post on bump keys.  I had to get into a locked room just yesterday to examine the furnace and water heater and it took me 5 seconds.

Bruce - in that case the market rules.  The expensive ones who are not hired will lower their prices to get business.

Shirley - I might be able to come up with similar posts for many trades.  It is what it is.

Sure, Scott!  Just give him your info!  Unbelievable.  And I have never heard of buying a vendor at an auction!

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 8 months ago

As a realtor, I just had the experience to have to call a locksmith to change the cylinder in a defective lock. He was highly recommended by the security office for the community.  That offered some degree of confidence about who we were dealing with.

Posted by Barbara Michaluk, Top Producing / Full Service REALTOR in Marylan (Weichert Realtors | Silver Spring, MD Phone Direct 240-506-2434) 8 months ago

Recommendations are always good, Barbara.  I grew up in Kensington and my doctor's office was on Fenton Street in Silver Spring.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 8 months ago

Great post Jay! I will only use a local locksmith that I have known for a long time.

Posted by Tom Bailey (Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc.) 8 months ago

That would be the best practice, Tom!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 8 months ago

Jay great reminder. Thanks for sharing this vital information.  

Posted by Frank Rubi, FrankRubiRealEstate.com (Frank Rubi Real Estate, LLC) 8 months ago

Frank - like Robert Baden-Powell said, "Be prepared."

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 8 months ago

I've met with this scenario a time or two when searching for a plumber--I kept searching until I found a legit one. It would be more frightening with a locksmith for the reason you mentioned.

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) 8 months ago

Of course this will happen with any trade, Lottie.  But a locksmith adds a more difficult dimension as they can have access to the house.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 8 months ago

Good tips to look out for.  I recommend sticking with a tried and true locksmith once you use their services, to eliminate any potentially costly mistakes.  

Posted by Kevin Mackessy, Dedicated. Qualified. Local. (Blue Olive Properties, LLC) 8 months ago

Thanks Kevin.  And there's a lot of potential for costly mistakes!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 8 months ago

GReat post.  I had no idea this was on the rise!  I use the same guy all the time so no need to worry.  I also refer either that company or another for clients, no newbies here!

Posted by Jan Green, HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN (Value Added Service, 602-620-2699) 8 months ago

Then you're covered, Jan!  This post can be written for almost any trade, though.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 8 months ago

Wow, never really thought about this before- very concerning. That said, I tend to use the locksmith close to my office for key copies or near my apartment- both with commercial space and located in the same space for years. For my building, we also use the same locksmith that the managing agent uses for several of her buildings- so between these 3, I never gave it much thought- but it's great to give clients a heads up (though obviously in the city retail locksmith locations are every few blocks so likely less of concern here than other places- but still a worrying trend as people use google for everything).

Posted by Adam Feinberg, NYC Condo, Co-op, and Townhouse specialist (ANCHOR ASSOCIATES) 8 months ago

Adam - I hear stories from clients all the time about the google locksmith search and local phone number scam.  Glad to give you a head's up!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 8 months ago

This is definitely something to think about and very good information to share. Thanks and have a great week Jay.  

Posted by Joyce Marsh, Regional Manager Regal Christie's Int'l Realty (Regal | Christie's International Real Estate) 7 months ago

Thanks, Joyce.  Always trying to be of help!

And I had relatives in Daytona and spent a summer there - in 1964 ... just a couple of days ago.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 7 months ago

Interesting...it would not have occured to me to license a locksmith !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) 7 months ago

Like Realtors, a locksmith can get into your home, S&D!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 7 months ago

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