Should I Get New Locks and Keys When I Move into My New House?

Dawn M. Smith
Written by Dawn M. Smith
Updated January 20, 2022
A woman unlocking a house door with a key
Photo: Cultura Creative / Adobe Stock


  • Homeowners buy new locks and keys to increase their house’s security. 

  • For the best outcome, schedule the locksmith appointment weeks in advance. 

  • You have a choice between buying new locks or rekeying existing locks.

  • Locksmith’s fees range between $50 and $100 per hour.

  • Let professionals replace the locks, but rekeying is a DIY project. 

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When you move into a new house, sometimes it takes a little while for it to feel like home. Installing new locks and keys will help you settle in and complete the perspective switch from  “their house” to “our house.Learn how to work with a locksmith and customize a plan for new locks and keys because, ultimately, the house should be your safe and happy place.

Why Should You Change the Locks and Keys? 

On the fence about changing the locks and keys? Let’s take a look at the main reasons why you should consider making the change.  

1. The Previous Owner or Renter Probably Shared Keys 

It’s a normal part of life to share house keys with neighbors, pet sitters, and family members. Extra keys can certainly help out in the event of an emergency. However, even if you trust the previous occupants, it’s a little unnerving to wonder about keys to your house in the hands of people you don’t know. To give yourself peace of mind, start fresh with a new set of locks and keys.

2. Your New Build Home Has a Master Key 

Buying a new construction home alleviates a lot of the stress involved with purchasing a previously owned home. But the locks on your new front door were probably installed by the builder and “master keyed,” meaning they likely used the same key for more than one house on the block and shared it with subcontractors during construction. To lessen your worries about unknown contractors having a master key to your home, change the locks and keys yourself.

3. New Locks Were Recently Installed 

Even though the homeowner or tenant said that new locks were recently installed, you can’t ensure there aren’t key copies because you didn’t work with the locksmith. For example, the previous occupant may have forgotten about the time they lent the key to the house cleaning crew or handyperson for a quick move-out task.

Should You Buy New Locks or Rekey the Old Ones? 

The decision to either replace the locks or rekey depends on various factors, including the type of existing locks, the number of locks, your budget, additional upgrades, and your locksmith’s advice. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to changing locks and keys. 

To rekey a home, locksmiths rearrange the pins in the lock's cylinder, making old keys unusable. You’ll get a new set of keys after rekeying. The average cost of rekeying a home is about $75 per hour.

On the other hand, if you want an upgrade for security or modernization reasons, new locks are the way to go. The locksmith will remove all of the locks and install new hardware for each door. You should plan to pay between $50 to $100 per hour for a locksmith to change the locks.

Factors That Influence Lock Change Costs 

The total price for changing the locks varies for more reasons than the number of locks and new keys needed.

Lock Customization

Your local locksmith will provide you with different solutions to suit your home and budget. These options range from a simple one-for-one switch to a complete upgrade to a smart lock system that uses keypads, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and biometric capabilities. Keep in mind that the more advanced the lock system, the higher the final price tag.

Lock Complexity 

The lock’s type (mortise, interchangeable core cylinder, or high-security lock), material quality, brand name, and installation complexity affect pricing. For example, aluminum locks cost more, while die-cast locks from non-ferrous material like zinc are more affordable but less sturdy.

Changes to the Existing Door

The lockset you choose might require modifications to the existing exterior door or door frame, such as reinforcing your door jam with hinge shields or adding a metal slipcover over an exposed door latch.

When Should I Schedule the Locksmith Appointment?

A locksmith changing the locks of a house
Photo: rh2010 / Adobe Stock

Your instinct is probably to call a locksmith as soon as the paperwork is signed, but give it a day or two after closing. You never know when last-minute problems with closing details will pop up and delay your move-in date. If you’re moving into a rental property, discuss new locks with the homeowner and confirm the details in your lease before making an appointment with a locksmith. 

Scheduling the locksmith in advance helps you save money and get the service and products you need faster because their tools and inventory are readily available. 

Information to Give the Locksmith Before the Appointment

The locksmith can work quickly if they have details about your requested service beforehand. 

  • Count the number of locks to change, including back and side doors, sliding doors, and garage door. 

  • Describe the types of locks that are currently installed. List the brand names, and note whether the locks are built into the knobs and if you have deadbolts. 

  • Whether you want to add upgraded locks or increase the total number of locks 

  • Discuss your budget and decide if rekeying the same locks or changing the locks is the better option. 

Is Changing or Rekeying Locks a DIY Project?

It's possible to change your locks by yourself, but it's time-consuming and leaves little room for error. Since it's also expensive to replace locks, it's a project probably better left to a professional locksmith. Rekeying, however, is DIY friendly, but it takes patience. There are tons of rekeying kits that are available at home improvement and hardware stores. If you need additional help, check YouTube for a quick tutorial.

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