Lock boxes are compartments in which house keys can be securely contained and selectively accessed while a home is vacant. Until the last few years, almost all lock box locking mechanisms were opened through a combination of letters or numbers, although lock boxes that open electronically, known as Supra lock boxes, are now common. Inspectors may need to know how to operate them.
Inspectors should take the time to ask about the lock box location when scheduling the inspection for an unoccupied property. Commons locations include:
- the front door (on the doorknob). Some listing agents prefer they be placed elsewhere so the door's finish is not damaged;
- gas pipes;
- any other secure, conspicuous locations near the front door.
Combination Lock Boxes
The combination lockbox was the primary choice for listing agents for many years.
Pros of using combination lock boxes:
- They are easy to operate. Most inspectors should find their design familiar, since they operate in a manner similar to standard combination locks.
- They are inexpensive ($20 or less) and can be obtained at most hardware stores.
Cons of using combination lock boxes:
- Combination lock boxes can be accessed by anyone who knows the combination, regardless of whether they have permission to enter the home. Since commonly used codes are the listing agent's initials or year of birth, the codes are relatively easy to crack. Unless the combination is changed after the inspection, those with the combination can gain unauthorized access to the house.
- Combination lock boxes cannot store a record of access, which is helpful for liability reasons.
- If they become covered in ice, they can be hard to open.
For more information please visit: HOMEINSPECTORUSA