Congrats! Your home is on the market…you’ve spruced it up, made repairs, priced it right and a sign is in the front yard. But you can’t be home all day long to let people into your home, so there needs to be a convenient way to get the key(s) to potential buyers and their agents.
When I first started in real estate, we got keys from either a) the office of the listing agent (read: drive across town to pick up a key, try not to lose it, remember which house it’s for, and take the time to return it for the next agent), b) used a small ‘safe’ with some sort of manual combination that was usually kept on or near the front door that contained the key, c) was told by the listing agent where the key was hiding on the property, or d) the door was left unlocked.
None of the options above were ideal; some compromised the safety of the sellers and their property, some were inconvenient and meant driving around, and no method had the accountability to keep track of who was in a listing, and when.
When electronic lock boxes came into marketplaces (and there are still lots of markets in the country NOT using electronic boxes, but one of the methods above), they were nearly always met with scorn and frustration. Learning a new system was tough for agents; convincing sellers it was better took time, too.
But electronic lock boxes are fantastic, and a gift for buyers, sellers and their agents. Here’s why:
The key is safe: No more ‘under the flower pot,’ directions, no more keys getting lost between the office where they are kept and the seller’s home.
The key is at the home-always: Having to get a key and bring it back for a single showing is pretty simple. But when the property and the office were on opposite sides of town, or you had to spend time going to 10 different offices for a day of showings, that meant that the house could only be shown again on the same day…if the key was brought back. And that often didn’t happen before the buyers finished up a day of looking with their agent. This is especially great when the home is vacant…quick showings are possible with no delay at all in picking up a key.
Who opened the lock box is recorded: With electronic lock boxes, we can see which agent, from which office, and at what time, opened the box and accessed the key. This means loss, damage or other issues of safety can narrowed down; it means that agents can no longer say they showed a home when they did not, and gives the listing agent a record of who to contact in the future for marketing purposes if the price changes, etc.
Sellers have much, much more protection when the key is only able to be accessed by licensed agents. Agents access these boxes with either a key fob, a program on a smart phone or a separate small keypad or a hotel-like credit card-sized key. In all cases, the access is done with infrared technology. And in all cases, the agent must ‘update’ their key with a daily or in some places weekly code that gives them renewed access, and uploads their activity to a central database that shows the listing agent who has visited.
Electronic lock boxes can have their drawbacks; they are expensive for the agent (in our area, they are about $100 each); in cold, wet, weather, they can freeze if not protected, and of course, technical issues with software is always a possibility.
But for the maximum convenience of buyer and sellers and the protection of sellers, these are the way to go. When your listing agent puts on on your property, be delighted!
More from this contributor:
Understanding Fees of a Listing Agent in Real Estate Sales when Selling Your Home
Understanding Residential Real Estate Contract Dates
Creating a Seller’s Notebook for Potential Buyers: 20 Ideas to Help Buyers See Your House is the One!