Stolen Keys in Lockboxes???

Real Estate Agent with Klemm Real Estate

Is it just bad luck for me or has it happened to others before?

With low bank owned inventories and lots of buyer demand in the Mountain House and Tracy area, it seems like some people have resorted to "alternatives" when trying to get deals closed.  Missing keys in lockboxes, postings on windows stating that it is unsafe to go inside the homes...anything just to discourage offers (it does get frustrating when every house is in a multiple offer situation.)  But still......imagine when it is the first time you've met up with these clients and they drove all the way from San Jose just to see one house in Mountain House because there are no listings available and yet they cannot get inside!

There has to be another way in...perhaps through the window?  :P

Comments (68)

Ruthman Real Estate
Accessibility & The Power to Advise - Fairfield, CT

I like to think the best of people.  Forgetting to put the keys back could possibly happen.  Unfortunately there are some that keep the keys to keep others out.  Too bad.  

May 06, 2009 12:01 PM
Anna "Banana" Kruchten
HomeSmart Real Estate - Phoenix, AZ

Yes we're seeing quite a bit of not-so-professional behaviour popping up.  I think some serious Ethics classes are well overdue.

May 06, 2009 12:25 PM
Julie A. Black
KAUAI DREAMS REALTY Kauai Real Property Specialist - Kapaa, HI
CLHMS, CRS, GRI, Realtor, Broker

I keep one key in the lockbox and have one key at the office. Or if the house is farther away from my office I hide another key at the property. So when a panic agent calls me that there is no key in the lockbox I reveal the hiding place of the other key.

May 06, 2009 12:59 PM
Bob & Carolin Benjamin
Benjamin Realty LLC - Gold Canyon, AZ
East Phoenix Arizona Homes

This happens way too much -- with the market as it is and bidding wars it is not likely to stop any time soon.

May 06, 2009 01:15 PM
Keith Elliott Jr
KEIRE Realty Group - Manassas, VA
Principal Broker/Owner

Hi Elaine,

Yeah, I'm not surprised. Anyone with the ability to do a Google search can pull up lockbox codes direct from the manufacturer...all that info is online. Sad thing is...most agents/Realtors never change the code when they take them into their possession. That's just the reality of this environment. Always, try and attach a Sentrilock or Supra lockbox.

All the best,



May 06, 2009 01:31 PM
Kathy Baker, GRI Tennessee Realtor
Realty 1 - Jamestown, TN

Missing keys have happened to me as well, although I do believe the agents simply forgot to put the key back in the lockbox.

Kathy B

May 06, 2009 01:42 PM
Russell Benson
Old Republic Title - Norman, OK
We'd love to close your deal at Old Republic!


I've crawled in my share of windows and used other creative ways to get into a listing, particularly an REO.  I find keys missing out of the lock box to be the most common thing to happen but many times my investors will make offers sight unseen (normally under $20K).

This is one of the fun parts of my job that I love so much.  Hope you enjoy it too!

May 06, 2009 04:21 PM
Christianne O'Malley
Dickson Realty - Reno, NV
Exceptional Service - Delivering Results in Reno!

I'm glad to say that we don't see this happening on our bank owned listings. Instead, we've had a couple of cases of 'operator error' with people who can't seem to figure out how to CLOSE the lockboxes. That's okay though, because they call us and we run down to the property. I'd rather have them call than jam our lockboxes and ruin them with the keys stuck inside.

May 06, 2009 04:28 PM
Harrison Painter
GoGladiator Media - Carmel, IN
New Media Consultant

It is a very competitive environment, and Realtors simply need to always be prepared for battle!

Have a Profitable Day Everyone!

- Harrison Painter

May 06, 2009 06:58 PM
Yvette Gardner
Keller Williams Realty, Spartanburg, SC - Spartanburg, SC

We'd have to agree with others that the tracking feature for the electronic boxes is important not just for bank owned properties, but for all!  Welcome to AR!!

May 07, 2009 12:13 AM
Steve Loynd
Alpine Lakes Real Estate Inc., - Lincoln, NH
800-926-5653, White Mountains NH

I'm not sure there are any other actions we can take, If someone wants to prevent entry there are lots of ways. One solution is to require a back up key from the listing agent, if your client is coming a far distance.

May 07, 2009 12:47 AM
Paul Aragon
Coldwell Banker- Greater Valleys - Porter Ranch, CA

I always use an electronic keybox to track all the culprits. I also hide a combo lock in a different place. When an out of area agent wants to show the property, I take down their brokerage phone number and name. I'll go to the California Department of Real Estate site and verify that their broker and the agent are currently licensed, then I'll call them back with the combo and tell them that I may be around the area at the same time they are showing (this is to disuade them from giving the combo to their clients direcctly). It seems like a bit of extra work, but it only takes an extra 2 minutes per viewing and it keeps me from having to make numerous keys.

May 07, 2009 04:21 AM
Sandy Childs
Keller Williams Realty - Spartanburg, SC
Realtor - Spartanburg, SC

Elaine: In a perfect world, there would only be electronic lockboxes and the others would just go away. But, alas, the world is not perfect.

May 07, 2009 04:24 AM
Paul Andres
Family Realty Group, Inc. - Fair Oaks, CA

I have experienced the evaporating keys 6 times in 2008 and once this year. Although with the electronic boxes one can identify the culprit, the damage is already done. In one circumstance I notified the agent she inadvertently took the key - she vehemently denied it and thought I had a lot of gall (she used another word); interestingly enough her offer was the first received...

In circumstances where the key takes a walk and an offer is submitted I notify the agent of the situation and let them know that I am unable to submit the offer until I replace the keys and allow the other agent(s) who notified me of the missing keys an opportunity to view the property.

I don't quite understand what has happened to our industry. I may not be popular with some agents for my transparent, all cards out negotiating or allowing each agent a fair opportunity to submit offers but I sleep at night knowing that I'm ethical and don't resort to trickery to survive.

May 07, 2009 06:18 AM
Anna Ryan
Keller Williams Realty - Simpsonville, SC

Hey there and welcome to AR!  Jump in and get your feet wet!  Look forward to the blogs, this is a fun site.


May 07, 2009 08:16 AM
David Painter
Keller Williams Realty - Spartanburg, SC

Good to have you on Active Rain.  This is a good site for gathering information and interesting to see what others are blogging about. Contact us if we can be of service to you here in the Spartanburg / Greenville areas of South Carolina. We would be happy to send you a referral or to take good care of any referral you would send to us.

The following link will help you to get started on Active Rain.

May 07, 2009 08:27 AM
Robert Hammerstein
Christie's International Real Estate - Hillsdale, NJ
Bergen County NJ Real Estate

Elaine - that stinks. I agree with everyone else here that the electronic lockboxes are the only way to go. You can track the last person who was in and used the keybox... Just my 2 cents.

May 07, 2009 01:12 PM
Jean Terry
Keller Williams Realty Spartanburg, S.C. - Spartanburg, SC

Hi and welcome to Active Rain, a great site to network, share, learn, and have fun. Good luck. And if you are ever need an agent in the upstate of South Carolina, please call me.

May 07, 2009 02:36 PM
Jason Rose
123 ConEd LLC -- Michigan real estate continuing education - Farmington Hills, MI

Good morning, Elaine, and welcome to Active Rain. Congratulations on your first post. Have fun and enjoy yourself here!

May 08, 2009 02:35 AM
Angela Penkin
RE/MAX Plus - Rochester, NY

Missing keys, yes it happens. Keys left locked in the house, yes that too. I've even did that this year at one of my own listings. The sellers came home while I was closing up after an open house, and as ridiculous as it sounds - interupted my 'routine' and I left the bottom of the lockbox in my hidey spot in their house, completely my mistake.

I always use electronic lockboxes. You would be surprised to find that there are agents that do not know this tracks them. I had 2 agents look at builder specs a few years ago without an appointment and when I called them for 'feedback', the one agent denied it until I told him the exact minute he opened the box.

Expensive, but the only way to go. And you can also tell if an agent did not keep an appointment either. Tracking online is awesome, and with wireless sync I receive an email within minutes that the lockbox was opened.

May 08, 2009 02:26 PM