From the Idiot Files: Use an Electronic Lockbox!

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This from the East Valley Tribune yesterday – Imposters steal from Chandler home sellers.

Thieves posing as realtors and prospective home buyers struck two homes in Chandler on Monday, according to police.

. . .

In the second theft, a listing realtor got a call on Sunday from a woman claiming to be a realtor and gave her the code to the lock and arranged for the showing on Monday.

Excuse me? GAVE HER THE CODE? Over the phone?? Why in the name of Pete would you give anyone a lock box code over the telephone?!?

Here’s the right way to answer this call:

Caller: Hi! I’m an agent and I need the lockbox code to show your listing.

You: The lockbox code is in the Realtor remarks section of the MLS.

Caller: Oh, I’m at the house and don’t have access to the MLS. We were just driving by and my client said, “Honey stop the car! I want to see this lovely home!”

You: Sorry, you’re going to have to call your office or wait there until I can come unlock the home. I can’t give a code out over the phone.

Problem solved.

Better yet, use an electronic lock box. They don’t require codes and have to be accessed with an electronic key that is only available to licensed agents. These boxes record every opening, so you know who accessed it and when the lockbox was opened.

Home sellers: Insist that your agent use an electronic lockbox, not a box that requires a combination or code to be entered. If your agent can’t afford the $125 an electronic lockbox costs and insists on placing a $30 manual box on your home, I suggest finding another agent. In the Phoenix real estate market, we use Supra electronic lock boxes that look like this:

supra lockbox

“Combination” boxes take on several forms, here are a couple:

combo lockbox 1combo lock box 2 

Agents: If you insist on going cheap, don’t EVER give out a lockbox code over the phone or via email (same goes for gate codes to gated communities). You’d think this would be painfully obvious, but apparently it’s not.  Use the Realtor remarks section of the MLS. Sadly, I’ve seen lock box and gate codes placed in the public remarks section of the MLS – which is beyond stupid. Also, change the default combination before you use one of these. You’d be amazed how many homes I can open simply by trying the as-shipped default combination…

Are lock boxes safe?

Many people have concerns about placing a lockbox on their home. Electronic boxes are safe. Cutting one of them open would take a LONG time. Burglars don’t want to spend time at your home with a hacksaw or acetylene torch trying to get a lockbox open. Let’s face the facts, they save significant time and draw far less attention to themselves by simply tossing a brick through a window or putting their foot through your front door.

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About the Author
Jay Thompson

I'm a real estate broker in Phoenix, Arizona and the publisher of the Phoenix Real Estate Guy blog. I tend to drive too fast and scream at the University of Texas and Denver Broncos football teams. My two kids are smarter than most adults I know and my wife is simply amazing.

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  1. Jim Zirbes says:

    You are Soooooooo RIGHT ON about this Jay! Thanks for speaking up on it!

  2. Jay,

    I'm teaching a GRI class as we speak and was just going over this. It's important to check with E and O insurance as not all cover the use of combo boxes and most Listing Agreements also specific electronic lockboxes. Cheap is not the way to go for security.

    Locally we had a murder suspect (later convicted) living in the basement of a vacant listing….

    My favorite (not really) is when agents leave the combos on their cell phone voice messages, and the cell phone number is on the for sale sign. Just dumb.

    **Matthew Rathbun´s last blog post..Contracts to Closing Training</abbr></abbr>

  3. Ted Mackel says:

    If your association has a contract with Supra then it is a violation of the Supra contract put mechanical lock box codes in the MLS listing data. Second, here in California where commissions average over $6,000 per transaction, if an agent cannot afford to pay for the Supra key or sentry key then they should not be allowed access. The computerized box tracks who accesses the property.

    I figure if the agent on the other side of the transaction can drive up in a $70,000 car but will bitch and moan about having to pay $20.oo per month to have a supra key, then they should get out of the business.

    **Ted Mackel´s last blog post..Exploring Wildwood Park Thousand Oaks California (Video Blog)</abbr></abbr>

  4. Denver has been a wall of resistance to electronic lock boxes. We've been trying for well over 5 years to get them as a standard business practice with no luck.

    I think public awareness, and demands from seller's, will be the only way to create the change. Once consumers demand better security, the real estate community will play ball.

    **Bob Schenkenberger´s last blog post..Denver is #1 Market According to Forbes</abbr></abbr>

  5. M Realty says:

    I remember when I was a teenager and I was taking care of my grandmothers house while she was away and trying to sell the vacant home. I would show up and check the mail, mow the lawn and take care of a few random things to keep the house looking nice. One day I noticed that there was a note on the lock box, it said "The combo is 1218, MLS is wrong, Thanks" It was signed by the listing agent. I called my grandmother and we decided to go with another agent. Leaving a note with the combo written on it was a very stupid decision there Ms. Realtor.

    -Tyler

    • Jay Thompson says:

      Pathetic. I suspect it would have taken less time to correct the information in the MLS than it took to write the note, drive to the home, and stick the note on the lock box…

  6. Great public service, now if we could get ARMLS to REQUIRE Supra boxes on all listings with lockbox ok checked that would be a great improvement.

    I, personally have broken a combo box off a clients door. In that case, it was because it had jammed. It was frighteningly simple to do, and since that time I have never used one again.

    **Jim Little´s last blog post..Good News Friday, 6/26/2009</abbr></abbr>

  7. Shanna Lafontaine says:

    Here in Columbus if you have a non-electronic key pad, most real estate companies require you to tell them your Agent ID (over the phone) in order to be given the code. I can't imagine putting the code in the MLS, how could you control access??

    • Jay Thompson says:

      Shanna -

      The codes are put into a section of the MLS that is only accessible to agents logged into the MLS. So it's controlled by user ID and password — which actually seems more secure than giving an agent ID over the phone.

      In Columbus when an agent gives an ID over the phone, does the person answering the phone actually verify that agent ID is active and valid? (I suspect they are supposed to, but some do not). By forcing the agent to log into the MLS to get a code, at least you know they are an active agent (assuming they haven't given their user name and password to someone).

  8. And here in Charleston, if you give your smart card to anyone *including* another agent, that's it for you, you will go directly to realtor jail.

    **howard´s last blog post..Fannie and Freddie to allow refinancing up to 125% loan to value</abbr></abbr>

  9. Liz says:

    get off your ass and go show the proerty and earn your commission!!

    • Jay Thompson says:

      Liz –

      It's not a matter of getting off my ass. It's the buyer's agent that needs access to the home, for their client.

      I abhor dual agency (where the seller's agent also represents the buyer). When I take a listing, I work for the seller. Of course I will show a listing to an unrepresented buyer (but I'll refer them to another agent to represent them) and I'll do whatever it takes to make sure a buyer's agent has access to one of my listings, including "getting off my ass" to let them in (as I mentioned in the post).

      But I'm not going to give a complete stranger on the other end of the phone or the internet access to my clients home. That would be completely and utterly irresponsible — as evidenced by this very case where an agent did exactly this and his client got ripped off.

  10. Jamie Geiger says:

    I am finding more often than not- listing agents are not putting the LB code in the Realtor Remarks-many are asking to be texted or emailed for the code. I went to one vacant listing- no lockbox of any kind- the key was in the electrical box-pathetic

    **Jamie Geiger´s last blog post..Phoenix Real Estate- Market Statistics June 2009</abbr></abbr>

  11. Oh, if only the listers would post the codes in the Realtor remarks! It is really frustrating when you are trying to the show a house and no one picks up the phone to tell you what the code is. This really shouldn't be a hard process.

    I've noticed quite a few solicitations from Realtors looking to buy Supra boxes from Realtors who have them collecting dust. Looks like you can pick them up for $30-$40 on the street…problem solved!

    **Kristin LaVanway´s last blog post..Buying a Home – Stage 3 – Shopping!</abbr></abbr>

  12. Andrew Hodge says:

    This is why all confirmations should go through the offices. I have received confirmations in the past when I have to go through the agent and with some smaller brokerage offices, but if anyone asks for me to give it out I tell them I will confirm with their office and their office can page them the code.

    I often tell anyone who gives me a code when I called to confirm it through my office "so that there is a record of the confirmation", but I hope that they also get the hint that they shouldn't have told me in the first place.

    Another thing that I dislike is when agents leave a note in the lockbox with the code on it as the code and lock box are then usually left open for viewing when an agent is in the house. It only takes a few seconds for someone walking by to go up to the door, look in the lockbox and get the code. Any REALTOR® inside paying attention to their client is not likely to notice someone looking at the lockbox unless they are just leaving.

    It makes you wish it was harder to become a REALTOR® with at least a small emphasis on adequate levels of common sense.

  13. Jay – Like everything, it depends where you live. In our market (Cleveland) 99% of the lock boxes are the mechanical type, and all the codes are given out over the phone. It's just the way it is, and if you use an electronic box, you may actually be hurting your seller as many of the agents won't bother to show it since they don't own an electronic key. I know, it's ridiculous, but one of those things you have to live with or you'll simply sell fewer homes.

    Until our MLS requires all agents to own an electronic key, I don't see it changing, though I do agree with the potential safety issues.

    **John Kalinowski´s last blog post..Is PC Magazine Dead?</abbr></abbr>

    • Jay Thompson says:

      John – how do you all verify that whoever is calling for the lock box code is actually an agent? I wouldn't have a problem calling a real estate office and giving them a code. But if someone calls me, there is no way that I'm aware of to know if they are an agent, or a potential thief. Even caller ID wouldn't be bullet-proof as phones can be stolen, and number spoofed.

      If every lock box in the Phoenix metro area was mechanical, I still wouldn't give out a code if someone called me. I'd call their office, and let the office relay the code. Otherwise, you're asking for trouble, aren't you?

  14. Jay – Common practice here is to ask for the agent's ID number, cell number, and office phone. I know, not exactly homeland security-style, but it's just the way it's done here. A large number of the showings are set up through showing services companies such as Centralized Showing Services, and they ask for the same info. I know where you're coming from, and I agree with your points, but it's just the way it's done here. If you fight the system your listings won't end up on the agents' showing lists.

    I've never heard of anyone breaking into a home in our area by calling to get the lock box code (doesn't mean it never happens, but I've never heard of it), and I think most thieves will just break a back window and open the door before they waste time with lock boxes.

    **John Kalinowski´s last blog post..Is PC Magazine Dead?</abbr></abbr>

  15. Jay Thompson says:

    "and I think most thieves will just break a back window and open the door before they waste time with lock boxes."

    Agreed completely (as I mentioned at the end of the post). This is only the second time I've heard of thieves accessing a lock box to pillage a home in Phoenix, which is a significantly larger metro area than Cleveland. But I sure wouldn't want to be "that guy" who gives out a code to a random caller who winds up ripping off the seller. That's got to be quite an uncomfortable conversation…. "I'm sorry" doesn't seem to cut it.

    Unless someone lives in the vault at Ft. Knox, there isn't any way to prevent someone from breaking in if they really want to.

    • "Unless someone lives in the vault at Ft. Knox, there isn’t any way to prevent someone from breaking in if they really want to."

      Good point! I always tell people that it keeps the honest people out. A thief will go through the window or bust your door down.

      On a side note: I've had a few bad experiences with the electronic lock-boxes. Sometimes the battery will get weak and the shackle won't open. Very frustrating…but they are built like a vault.

      **Brian´s last blog post..Week 11 – Hunting Land for Sale | 296 Acres Fairfield County SC</abbr></abbr>

  16. The listing agents are thinking they are getting around the system by having the buyers agent call – then they know who and how often the property is getting shown. THAT IS WHAT THE ELECTRONIC BOXES DO AUTOMATICALLY

    any lock box is better then having to drive to the listing office to get the key prior to showing… no I'm not that old, but remember my mom having to do that…

    **Irene Hammond´s last blog post..New Real Estate Scam to be aware of</abbr></abbr>

  17. Doug Francis says:

    I have called agents for combo's that they gave to me over the phone and, yes, I sound professional, breezy, cool and under control on the phone… you know, confident. Years of practice! Like one of the guys in Ocean's Eleven (the Clooney version).

    The electronic boxes prevent you (the naive agent) from having to explain that the thief sounded legit!

    **Doug Francis´s last blog post..Off to REBarCamp in Virginia Beach</abbr></abbr>

  18. Joe Loomer says:

    We had an agent in our area lose her license for giving out her keypad to a contractor, who subsequently gave it to one of his sub-contractors – a convicted felon. The guy used it to rob fifteen homes before he was caught, and the agent spent two days in jail before they figured out the electronic record was her, but the person who entered the properties was not.

    Electronic lockboxes ARE safe – but guard your keypad with your life and do not write your code on it or keep it with it.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

    **Joe Loomer´s last blog post..Georgia Homestead Exemption Abolished – For Now…</abbr></abbr>

  19. Jim Gatos says:

    Personally I can't stand combination lockboxes. Most of the lockboxes I see used are from bank reo properties, and the logic, at least in MY area, that I heard is that the listing agents either get these combination lockboxes directly from the lender or they use the combo boxes due to the fact that plumbers and repair people need to get in and the agent understandably cannot meet the service providers. Only thing LOL, is the codes seem to be one of a couple. Most investors in my area know of a couple of them. Their own buyer agents give them the code. I don't even want to THINK about the potential liability that scenario could cause.

    In my area, for a long while, the same blue lockboxes Jay features were selling for $20. No kidding. When THAT sale was taking place I "snatched" a good amount of them, at least around 10 or more. Now they are around $100… They're durable, safer, and I get a record of who (or who's keypad is being used) and I can also control access hours with these things.. I do have a couple of combination boxes because there are a couple of "remote" areas that some of the agents just don't seem to use the electronic boxes or they don't use the keypads (real estate agent "hicks"), LOL.. I always verify they are registered with the MLS"PIN" in my area, and I HAVE reported a couple of "violators.. (you can read that here) http://www.massrealestateguy.com/2009/06/if-you-a

    **Jim Gatos´s last blog post..The "Un-Christianity" of some "Christian" Real Estate Agents …</abbr></abbr>

  20. Johnny Davis says:

    Great post. I have been using combo lock boxes…never giving out codes over the phone though. Your post makes alot of sense and I think I am going to definitely convert to an electronic lock box.

  21. Real Estate Marketing says:

    The RE agent drop in income story has other facets.Agents incomes are way down. The figures calculated are probably directionally correct overall. What makes things worse for the agents is that they're not doing 54% less work, or incurring 54% less out of pocket costs. Many pay for system access and certain RE related services out of pocket. With income reduced but expenses holding steady, the reduction in their net income is more pronounced. Many of these agents are also spending significant amounts of time and energy working on short sales. Few of these transactions end up closing and yielding commission $ as many banks are dragging their feet on dealing with problems. The only people who seem to have it worse are the spec builders. Many are being boiled alive as the problems they put off in 2008 by renting out unsold inventory are now snowballing into massive losses.

  22. SpokaneHomeGuy says:

    Great post, I dislike the combo's – The Spokane MLS does not allow them at all. I use the combos for Idaho listings listed in both states since it doesn't make sense to have 2 supra's hanging on the house. Agents must call and verify their "agency" with the office prior to receiving the combo.Keep up the good work, really enjoy following you.

  23. Jay Thompson says:

    Michael – I can see your points. But, consider this…If I am viewing a home with a buyer client and the listing agent is there, I am going to ask them to step outside and leave us alone. Why?I don't want my client being "sold to" by the listing agent. I'm not about to let a listing agent "work" my buyer and try to glean information that could improve his client's (the seller) negotiating position.I don't need a listing agent to point out anything about the home. I've seen thousands of homes and know what to look for. It's not about time or effort. I represent my buyers, I have their interests in mind and I'm not letting the guy that represents the seller anywhere near them.If the listing agent or the home owner are on the premises during the showing, the buyer is almost certain to spend less time in the home. As a seller, that is not what you want. In the Phoenix market, buyers typically look at a LOT of houses. A seller needs to make it convenient for the buyer to view the home — hence the lockbox. And honestly, why is the listing agent pointing out options to improve the saleability of the home to buyers (like cleaning the windows to let more light in)? They should be pointing out these options to THEIR CLIENTS long before a potential buyer even sets foot in the home.

  24. Michael says:

    I believe it's time for realtors representing homes to BE ON SITE – actually representing their customers. Further, the on site representative should be a licensed member of the representing office, not someone who hustles paperwork for the office.

    Only good can come from this action. The seller KNOWS their agent is actually representing them for every showing, and everyone gains.

    * The seller's agent will actually know more about the represented property because they'll have actually seen it, spent time there and can gather dynamic information from the buyer's agent in the process.

    * The seller's agent may see options at their clients home to improve the saleability. Right down to “hey if you clean the windows more light would show the home better” suggestions that people often overlook.

    * I'm sure agents will NOT appreciate this suggestion due to the time and coordination involved. Look at it from the sellers perspective…

    * People visit homes for sale with little if any responsibility for leaving them as found. This has happened to the detriment of pets, doors left open, lights left on – and on and on….

    * STRANGERS walking through the house who may have less than desirable intentions. Having representatives on site will make people think twice about doing bad stuff.

    * And the best reason I can think of – agents make huge money for activities performed. While some will argue I'm sure, adding a level of personalization to the transaction on behalf of the sellers will surely cement future transactions.

    Anything less – and real estate agents just look like people who perform little outwardly actions while taking a huge commission for perceived minimal contributions.

    Stand out from the crowd — REPRESENT ! Electronic device intervention will NEVER replace human representation.

  25. Michael says:

    I appreciate your thoughtful responses, the unique transaction complexities, and variables which may or may not take place…We'll agree to disagree.On the one hand realtors talk about positioning homes for sale based primarily on market conditions, comps based on some high % w/flex, blah blah blah. On the other hand they talk the importance of buyer negotiation being an issue. I'd submit that's a small piece of the puzzle.Further — I'd assert that buying a home is an emotional transaction, to the detriment sometimes of rational thought. Sound familiar?While agents downplay (and downspeak) purchase emotions – buyers either "feel it" or they don't. EMOTION.So what if a potential buyer "loves it" and says they do? That translates to NOTHING on paper. How is communicating positive (or negative) responses compromising your fiduciary responsibility? It isn't and it doesn't.If a client finds a property they like and want to pursue it via a contract, it seems to me your "fiduciary responsibility" is to counsel them on key environmental, legal and other purchase aspects vs. communication exchange.Your response "…I don't have data that supports they would do the same with a listing agent present, because no listing agent will be present when I show a home." — pretty much sums up the bias expected and bias given.The process of buying and selling a home in Arizona (and I suspect many other places…) is based on how realtors perceive the process to be that best suits their means.Perhaps one day the process will serve the people who buy and sell homes. After all is said and done – buyers & sellers pay your bills.Back on subject – no electronic device will EVER replace human representation…I hope that fact isn't lost in the exchange.Good day.

  26. Jay Thompson says:

    "I'd assert that buying a home is an emotional transaction, to the detriment sometimes of rational thought."Absolutely true. Not good, but true and something we do our best (with mixed success) to counsel on. It is *very* difficult to separate emotion in a transaction like a home purchase. It needs to be a business decision, but human nature being what it is, it's virtually impossible for it to be purely business.Perhaps my example of a buyer saying "I love this house" to the seller's agent wasn't the best example. It was the first one that popped into my head. But if the seller knows the buyer has already begun that emotional attachment to the home, then it does give the seller an advantage. They can counter lower knowing the buyer is in love. I simply feel it's it's important not to divulge anything that could even remotely compromise the buyer's position.And I see absolutely nothing positive that having a seller's agent present at a showing brings to the buyer."Your response "…I don't have data that supports they would do the same with a listing agent present, because no listing agent will be present when I show a home." — pretty much sums up the bias expected and bias given."I don't understand how this is biased. I keep sellers agents away from my buyers for their own good, not mine. "no electronic device will EVER replace human representation…I hope that fact isn't lost in the exchange."Again we are in complete agreement."The process of buying and selling a home in Arizona (and I suspect many other places…) is based on how realtors perceive the process to be that best suits their means."Please don't generalize and lump all Realtors into one big category. I don't do what best suits my interests. I do what best serves my clients interests. Of course there are self-serving agents out there. But we're not all that way. I know exactly who pays my bills, and I respect them completely. I've often said I am not a salesman. I'm not here to sell anyone a home. I'm here to make sure their best interests are represented — whether I'm working with a buyer or a seller. I've built my brokerage on customer service, not self service.The point of the article wasn't really about what is the best way to show a home. The point was, combination lock boxes stink, giving codes out over the phone is stupid, and electronic boxes are far superior and solve the problems combination boxes present.But I sure appreciate the exchange, it's been good. And you've given me a great idea for a future article. When it's posted (likely late this week), I hope you'll come back and continue the debate!

  27. Michael says:

    I'd ask:

    * why wouldn't you want the seller's agent loitering?
    (seems to me the current process works for realtors, not the sellers)

    * who says the seller's agents presence is there to sell anyone?
    * why can't they simply be there to answer any questions?
    * who better knows the property than the sellers agent?
    * why can't they simply be there to capture dynamic comments?

    * convenience is relative — listen to seller's HORROR stories about unsavory buyer's agents, I'll bet there's more of those to offset any convenience factors.

    Again – the process should represent buyer and seller, not someone's interpretation of what's the best way — ie “convenience”. I'd submit if someone wants to actually buy a home, they could care less who's there supporting the property showing. The alternatives are less pleasant – and most of the alternatives are negative.

    Why not reduce the number of tire kickers by pre-qualifying potential buyers, reduce the number of home showings by actually gathering their needs and showing only those that fit 75% plus of those needs?

    Why not actually schedule appointments for home showings vs. this “I drove by your home just now and my buyers want to see it NOW” mentality? I'd submit the “old days” of showing 15-20 properties a day is time wasted. It's a new world, time to communicate new processes, and to better utilize technology.

    I'd continue to submit — sans empirical data to dismiss it, the current process is askew and needs modification.

  28. Jay Thompson says:

    “why wouldn't you want the seller's agent loitering? “

    I thought I'd addressed that. The sellers agent works for the seller, presumably with the sole intent of getting the home sold. No matter how much I coach my buyers, all it takes is one misstep on the buyers part and the sellers agent has “ammo” that could hurt my clients negotiating position. I have a fiduciary responsibility to my client to ensure that doesn't happen.

    “who says the seller's agents presence is there to sell anyone?”

    Real estate agents sell property. If they aren't there to sell the home, there isn't much point in them being there.

    “why can't they simply be there to answer any questions?”

    Unless you are taking about a very high-end custom home, there really isn't a whole lot a seller's agent can say about the home that a good buyer's agent won't already know. What kind of question could a sellers agent answer that a (good) buyers agent wouldn't know, or be able to find out?

    “who better knows the property than the sellers agent?”

    Well, the seller knows the most about it. But again, it's not like homes have all these deep dark secrets that are only discovered by “knowing” the property.

    “why can't they simply be there to capture dynamic comments?”

    Again, I don't want the person working for the seller to capture ANY comments from my client. All my client has to say, for example, is “Wow, I love this home!” And bang, our negotiating position just got weaker. If the sellers agent wants feedback, they can call me. I'll generally tell them what my client thought, but I sure won't give away any info that could compromise my clients position.

    “convenience is relative — listen to seller's HORROR stories about unsavory buyer's agents, I'll bet there's more of those to offset any convenience factors.”

    Believe me, I hear horror stories every day. Read through this blog and you'll see many that I share. I can tell you one thing though, in my market, if it is in the LEAST bit inconvenient for a buyer to view a property, they will move on. They have 35,000 homes here to chose from. If we were to have to wait even 5 minutes for a listing agent to show up, my client would simply say “Next!”. Buyers simply aren't going to even remotely jump through hoops to see a home. Sellers HAVE to make it easy for buyers to view the property.

    “I'd submit if someone wants to actually buy a home, they could care less who's there supporting the property showing.”

    And I would submit that a buyer doesn't care if the person representing the seller shows them a home, they are potentially making a critical mistake.

    “Why not reduce the number of tire kickers by pre-qualifying potential buyers, reduce the number of home showings by actually gathering their needs and showing only those that fit 75% plus of those needs?”

    We do exactly that (actually, we show homes that are closer to fitting 100% of the buyer's needs). Any buyer's agent worth a flip would do that. Are there lousy buyer's agents out there? Of course. But I'm not showing a home to anyone that isn't 1) serious about buying; and 2) qualified to buy. I have a lot better things to do than drag tire kickers around.

    “Why not actually schedule appointments for home showings vs. this “I drove by your home just now and my buyers want to see it NOW” mentality?”

    We do schedule appointments for home showings. But things come up, schedules change, timelines need to be flexible. Occasionally as we're driving about, a buyer may say
    what about that house?” And since we've done our homework, we'll be able to say — that house doesn't meet your criteria for x, y, and z.

    “I'd submit the “old days” of showing 15-20 properties a day is time wasted. It's a new world, time to communicate new processes, and to better utilize technology.”

    Maybe, maybe not. Depends on the buyer. We get a LOT of out of state (and out of country) buyers that have very limited time to look for a home. You can search all day long on the internet, but at some point, people that are totally unfamiliar with the Phoenix area need to see a lot of homes in a lot of different areas in order to make a decision of this magnitude.

    “I'd continue to submit — sans empirical data to dismiss it, the current process is askew and needs modification.”

    I'm not saying it's perfect, far from it. But the answer isn't simply to have listing agents present for showings. I have data that buyers spend FAR less time looking at a home where the sellers are present. I don't have data that supports they would do the same with a listing agent present, because no listing agent will be present when I show a home.

    Ultimately the answer may be better qualified buyer's agents. Or having something in place to remove the lousy ones. That would take a fundamental shift in the typical broker's mentality though — which is something I've been suggesting for quite some time.

  29. Some agents just don't think.

  30. Buettnerj says:

    Some agents just don't think.

  31. Mike says:

    Can't argue with the points, Jay.

    Also can't argue with supporting comments.

    Nonetheless, I use combos. Here's why: In Sarasota and Orlando (FL), banks (servicers) sub out "home preservation" services. Some aggressive home preservation companies/individuals want business so they report "abandoned" property to the bank, allowing these "preservation" people to cut off my lockboxes, re-key & steal my signs.

    Hard to believe? Yeah, that's what I thought when I lost an e-box and sign.

    Forget complaining to the "bank" about its contracted preservation hired help. Bank will apologize & offer to overnight a key. Two weeks later after receiving upteen different overnight mailers with the wrong key, I have access….

    …but no reimbursement (or I'm sorry) for my e-key and sign.

    I'm NOT an idiot. I am a realist.

    This is reality, folks. You can justify, pontificate, commiserate, support or rebut…. As I indicated, I am 100% in agreement with all points made & echoed about importance of e-boxes.

    Just my .02.

    Mike

    P.S. Congrats, Jay, on the patience shown with Michael, who for the life of me can't understand that list agent and/or seller NEVER should be present during a showing. Period. It's RE101…end of story. In my area, if a seller and/or list agent presents an unnecessary challenge, it's NEXT. Another 10 properties are out there at the same price, in the same condition & with no challenging owner and/or list agent.

    Again, just my .02

    P.P.S. "Commentluv," for some strange reason, picks an image instead of a post and (worse) picks the single worst image on my site. Hmm, need to look in to this.
    .-= Mike´s last blog ..kitchen =-.

  32. Doug Francis says:

    I'm amazed at the fact this post still gets hits… In my area the problem is agents putting lock boxes assigned to other realtor associations out of area. For example, unless programmed, the Maryland LB doesn't work in Virginia!

    I wrote a post about it in October and it seems to be an interesting issue.
    .-= Doug Francis´s last blog ..The Real Estate Consumer has changed… =-.

  33. I was on the phone with one of my agent clients who was leaving her local MLS because she was picking up new electronic lockboxes. She said she refuses to use combo boxes because of potential problems.

    When I worked in an office setting I would overhear agents giving out combo codes to clients because they didn't want to drive 1/2 hour to show the house!!!!!
    .-= Billie Hillier´s last blog ..Why I Think Postlets R-O-C-K-S! =-.

  34. Great article! This is a nice thing to use.

  35. The funny thing is that most agents don't reset the combination for combo lock boxes, so almost anyone can open them. It must be embarrassing to have to keep going back to a client to advise them to get their house re-keyed!

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  4. [...] this travesty to the attention of the Department of Real Estate. It wasn’t too long ago that I opined about agents giving lockbox codes out over the phone. At least in those cases the whole freaking planet doesn’t literally have access to the front [...]

  5. [...] this travesty to the attention of the Department of Real Estate. It wasn’t too long ago that I opined about agents giving lockbox codes out over the phone. At least in those cases the whole freaking planet doesn’t literally have access to the front [...]

  6. [...] you the home. Most homes for sale in the Phoenix real estate market are in the MLS, and most have a lock box that allows any agent access to the home (well, any agent that pays for a lockbox key or access to [...]

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