Your house is your castle – even when you want to sell it. Security is always an issue, especially when there are people in and out of your house at any given time of day for showings. How your house is shown and accessed by agents can play a large role in your safety and in a successful sale.
Many cities in the nation do not use lockboxes and require the listing agent to attend every showing, even when the home is being shown by another agent. Colorado Springs, on the other hand, understands that there are many drawbacks to this approach:
- If an agent has more than one listing (as most successful agents do) what happens if a Buyer’s agent wants to show one listing and another Buyer’s agent wants to show the other listing at the same time? The listing agent cannot be at two places at the same time, so how does he/she determine which house gets a showing and which house doesn’t? Our duty as a Realtor® is to provide the best possible service to our clients. It is not fair to the Seller who cannot get the home shown, is it?
How does “having to be available to show a listing” interfere with an agent’s other aspects of running a successful real estate business? A fellow blogger and friend of mine, Ines Hegedus-Garcia (of Rick & Ines Realtors® Miami Shores Real Estate) wrote a post regarding a day in her life accommodating showing agents in Miami Shores. She was at 4 of her properties, waiting for showing agents from Noon until past 6pm. When I asked her about this, she responded with:
“Mariana– sometimes I do feel that our days are wasted playing the waiting game, that’s why it’s great that there are 2 of us. Agents call us to schedule the appointments and we try to accommodate, but we don’t double book. I guess since agents here are used to the system, we are also accustomed to scheduling days according to other agents’ appointments (it can get extremely frustrating though).” – Ines
- Where are the keys? Does the listing agent tote them around with them? Are they kept at the Brokers office? How are the Sellers’ keys kept safe from loss or theft? I understand that there are probably systems in place, but to me, there are too many unknowns.
- What about comfortability level? I know when I show a home, it is a huge personal and emotional decision that my Buyer’s are about to make – whether they want to buy a particular home or not. Having the listing agent present would make me uncomfortable – almost as uncomfortable as having the Seller present. And what about pushy listing agents? I’m sure there are agents who dominate the showing, with complete irreverence for the Showing agent and the potential Buyer. I would think that THAT would deter a buyer, and thereby provide a disservice to the Seller. Right?
Then there are cities of agents who use code-access lockboxes. Although it erases many of the problems that I have with the “no lockbox” option, I do not see it as a “safer” alternative. Why?
- Once someone has the code – they can access it at any time, with or without an appointment. This concern is mainly with a buyer or a neighbor or a friend of a friend who may get access to the code. Where is the accountability?
- I would think that a Realtor® would change the code every time they put it on a new listing (added measure of security) but I guarantee that THAT doesn’t happen on a regular basis. This would leave the proverbial door open (yes, pun WAS intended…) to a whole slew of people who know the codes for a certain agents’ listed properties.
And then there are cities, like Colorado Springs. In Colorado Springs, we use (for the most part) a lockbox that offers the ultimate in security, accountability and convenience. The GE Security – iBox Lockbox is an electronic lockbox with infrared communication technology.
How does the iBox offer SAFETY?
- No one can access the keys inside of the lockbox unless they have a SupraKey. A SupraKey is a 3″x2″x1/2″ light-weight keypad. Each agent has their own SupraKey with their own code, that when aimed at the iBox (like a TV remote) and the code is entered, the box allows 30 second access to the keys inside. The SupraKey code is known only to the agent who owns the SupraKey, and the SupraKey is useless to anyone else.
- The iBox is near impenetrable. We have had someone take a CHAINSAW to it and not only could they not get into the key storage, they could not even get it off the door knob. (Yes. This person was a lunatic…)
How does the iBox offer Accountability?
- Every time that the iBox is opened, a record of WHO opened it and WHEN it was opened is stored in the GE Security system. If there is ever an issue, the listing agent KNOWS who the last agent was that showed the property.
- There is never any question as to the whereabouts of the house key(s).
How does the iBox offer Convenience?
- The listing agent does not have to be present for a listing to be shown.
- All properties that an agent has listed could be shown at the same time, without ever disrupting the listing agents’ schedule, or causing a “double-booking” of a listing agents’ time.
- Because showing agents can access the house without a listing agent present, listing agents do not need to set our own showings. In many companies, interested agents call a “showing desk” that sets the showing up w/ the seller (to make sure that the Seller has time to leave the property before it is shown). For example, we have a Seller who wants a one hour notice before showings. This is noted in the MLS and our “showing desk” will never set a showing with less than an hour’s notice, unless agreed to by the Seller.
- The iBox can also be accessed by Realtors® who have most types of PDA devices. The same code function is used as with the SupraKey.
iBoxes cost about $125. each and because of their durable construction, can be used over a span of many, many years on many, many houses. The one-time cost is well worth the convenience that it offers and what it does for my Sellers’ and my peace of mind is priceless.