In today's sellers market, it is very important that you make it as convenient as possible for potential buyers to see your home. Often people searching for a new home have very limited time. If your home is not available for a tour, they may very likely buy the home just down the street simply because they do not have to come back another time to see it. Like it or not, people today do not want hassles or delays. With so many homes available for purchase, they will quickly move on to another one.
If you are at home 100% of the time, there is no problem. Your listing agent will call you to let you know that he/she or an agent from another office will be bringing a prospective buyer to see your home. But if you are like most of us, you are not home during much of the day when buyers are out looking for their next residence.
To make it easier to show homes, for many years real estate professionals have used lockboxes. These are most often attached securely to a doorknob or some other part of the home. After notifying and receiving an "okay" from the owner, any agent could retrieve the key from the box, open the home's door, and show the listing to buyers.
Originally these boxes had keys themselves. Qualified agents had master keys that would open the box. Of course, with hundreds of agents, if just one of them lost his/her master key, every lockbox on every home was at risk! A thief who got his hands on one of the lockbox keys would be in paradise. Imagine the cost then of re-keying all of the lockboxes and distributing new master keys to them. What a mess!I am glad I got into this profession long after those days.
The next generation of lockboxes uses a combination system. This is somewhat better since agents could set the combinations differently for each box. Some boxes have push-button locks and others a more traditional dial. At least a thief who somehow discovered the code for a specific lockbox could not use the code to open the boxes of other agents. However, combinations written on sheets of paper often fall under the gaze of customers and others. If the wrong persons should see them, they then have easy access to at least that particular residence, and perhaps even more if the agent only uses one combination for all of his/her listings. Also, even though it is prohibited by our multiple listing service (MLS), I have even seen combination codes posted on listing sheets that we print up from the MLS. Many of these types of lockboxes are still used today.
The newest style of lockbox is the only one I use. It is made by GE Security and is state-of-the-art. It is called an iBox. As you can see, there is no dial or buttons to push. Just a small oval-shaped infra-red window, not unlike the one on your television or VCR. When an agent wants to retrieve a key, he must use a keypad (see image below) that is obtained from his local Real Estate Association. Only qualified real estate agents can have these. The agent enters a Personal Identification Number (PIN) that only he knows, and then points the keypad at the iBox. If his PIN is valid, within a few seconds a small compartment drops from the iBox with the key in it. If the agent should somehow lose his keypad, a thief could not use it since he does not know the agent's PIN. If by some miracle he did discover the PIN he would still be out of luck since the keypad must be placed in a special modem/cradle each night where it telephones GE to get an update code. Without the cradle, there is no way to update and the keypad will cease to function. Of course, should I lose my keypad I would immediately call GE, and they would automatically deactivate the keypad.
Another nice function of the keypad and iBox system is that it records which agents have been inside a home. Via the internet I am informed which home was entered, who was in the home, and when the agent was there. This is useful information for me to have since owners often like to know what is going on. I do not blame them.
Even though the iBoxes cost me about 4 to 5 times more than the standard combination lockboxes, they provide a greater degree of security and make your home more accessible to legitimate real estate salepersons and their customers. That can give you more peace of mind and help your home sell more quickly.
If you would like more information concerning lockboxes, do not hesitate to leave a comment or contact me at: email@example.com
John Elwell - REALTOR
Bill Nye Realty, Inc.
Licensed in Florida