Letter Re: Information Security Considerations When Selling a House with “Special Features”

Thank you for the SurvivalReality.com web site. I check the listings regularly, hoping for my own retreat purchase in the future.

The Bunker Home Retreat caught my eye since I’ve been to Pueblo Colorado many times. The bunker sounds very well designed and built. But the aerial views show exactly where the home is located, including street names. I don’t see how anyone can consider the bunker as secret, or “stealth” any more.

Also, the seller includes a picture of the hidden entrance plainly open in broad daylight right in the middle of his front yard. I can only assume his neighbors saw this display, which defeats the entire purpose of a hidden bunker.

While I greatly appreciate the aerial views of the other properties with acreage, I would recommend the seller rethink which photos he makes available.

This also brings up an interesting point, how does any buyer of property with hidden features guarantee that the features are truly secret? I suspect there is no way. Who knows what sneaky neighbors watched the construction process? Or which workers talked too much in town? Or how many other potential buyers know the features, but bought down the road, and will be talking soon? As a buyer, how could I guarantee none of these things happened? And why is the seller selling in the first place? Maybe he knows the secret is out and his bunker is the first place all his neighbors will turn for help, voluntary or involuntary.

Maybe there could be some kind of “prenuptial” agreement between the buyer and seller that stipulates a fee or back out clause if hidden features where revealed by the seller at any time before or after the sale. But I doubt this would be fool proof. Stories of hidden rooms never die. But it might work in one sense, the reaction of the seller to this kind of request would speak volumes to the level of security they maintained.

[One paragraph deleted, for OPSEC reasons.]

I hate to critique your hard work without offering a solution. It’s probably why I wrote this a week ago and haven’t sent yet. Here’s one possible solution. It’s based on my own plans, so maybe it will work for others. When you sell a home with security features, you just don’t advertise them, otherwise they will no longer be security features. Yes, you will lose the potential of a higher price. But you owe it morally to the buyer not to advertise these features. After the sale is complete, then you inform the buyer of their gain. I would trust in the Lord to steer the right buyer to me, who deserves such a bonus. If you start with this philosophy at the start of construction, there is no feeling of financial loss at time of sale. If this philosophy could be stated on SurvivalBlog, maybe it will take root across the community. Maybe not.

I’ll admit this ties in with my own basic philosophy on Preparedness. I don’t prepare for myself. I know I don’t have the skills, or strength, to be one of the survivors. But I can see where the world is headed, so I prepare that others may live, whether they be my own family, or a fortunate deserving soul in the future guided by an unseen hand to the preparations I have made. This thought gives me some comfort as I see the trials coming upon us in this lifetime. Regards, – SG

JWR Replies: I share your concern. But there is always a trade-off between secrecy and the ability to sell a house when it is time to move. I don’t think that there is any clear cut solution, and every seller has to make that judgment for himself.

Parenthetically, I grew up in Livermore, California (the home of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory). My father was a physicist, and nearly half of our neighbors were also in the hard sciences. A surprising number of houses in Livermore had family blast/fallout shelters in their yards. Nothing quite so elaborate as the fictional shelter in the movie “Blast From the Past,” but you could definitely see some creative genius put into action. One in particular that I saw stands out in my memory: It had the entrance cleverly hidden in the brickwork of an outdoor barbeque, and its air vent concealed in a rock sculpture. Tres Batman.

At the time that those shelters were built, (40+ years ago), virtually all of the neighbors saw the excavation work and knew exactly who had shelters. But as time has passed, people have moved and memories have faded. I know of at least one shelter that has been used as a “rumpus room” by the owner’s teenage kids. (Shame on that family for letting a good shelter be disused.)

In one instance a few years ago, the owner of a home near East Avenue School found out by accident that his house had a shelter (built circa 1962), when he began to re-landscape his back yard. As it turned out, the house had changed hands several times since the 1960s, and somewhere along the line, mention of the shelter was overlooked. Somewhere, someone may be sitting atop the equivalent of Crystal Peak (the semi-abandoned 1960s Continuity of Government shelter from the movie Terminator 3), and not realize it.