How Do Realtors(c) Get Into Houses? How Do Agent's Lock Boxes Work?

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Gateway, Reston, Herndon, Ashburn, Sterling, Fairfax

This is a SentriLock Realtor’s lock box

How Do Realtors Get INTO HOUSES?

rob-the-org's photostream Flickr



Sue: My husband John and I have been driving around Northern Virginia trying to get a feel for neighborhoods for our future move.

We can see all kinds of lock boxes hanging on the doors of the homes for sale and were wondering how they work.

Can you tell me?











Realtor's (c) lock boxes





Steve: There are basically two types of lock boxes…combination and electronic that are used in our area.

The combination boxes are usually put on bank owned (foreclosed) and vacant property.







combination lock box

The combination for the box is either put in the listing of the property (available only to licensed agents), or the buyer's agent has to call the listing agent to get it...

...(a waste, since they never answer their phones or get back to you in time, since it would interrupt their daytime TV or vacation schedule...

or they call you two days later after your client has returned to her current home in New York) 

Always have your agent put an electronic box on your property. A combination box gives you zero security in our opinion.




Also, lack of easy entry means that active, professional buyer's agents often do not show those combo lock box listings since there are so many other properties ones out there that can be visited easily...

The best use of combination lock boxes is when they are registered with  a service known as the Centralized Showing Service…those people DO answer their phones and record your identity before giving you the combo(each agent has a special password that identifies them to the folks at the service).



Realtor's (c) lock box





The electronic boxes come in two forms…one requires the insertion of the agent's electronic card key …the other will read a signal from a  key when you point the key at it...also a very good system.

This latter brand used locally is a Supra(c) Key. The key to the right is a Sentrilock (c) key.















Dark Spinner's photostream

John: How do Realtor's (c) electronic keys provide more security than combo lock boxes?

Steve: Each Realtor(c) who pays his dues in a timely manner, has an electronic key to the lock boxes within the metro area. 

My identity is coded into the key….it is very cool and adds good security and follow up potential.

When I enter a property with my key, the lock box on the property sends an identity message to my key, recording the date, time, and property I was in.




At home and at our office, we have a key cradle connected by Sentrilock key (c)telephone lines to the Metropolitan Regional Information System (MRIS).

(That is the name of the local multiple listing service which has all listed properties in MD DC, and VA)

When I put my key in the cradle or up date my key card (it expires every day), a message is sent to the listing agent of each home  I visited, telling them who I am and when I was in their listing. Pretty cool, huh?

When we get notified that someone was in one of our listings (homes we are marketing), we do two things.

We email the showing buyer’s agent a picture and summary of the listing they were in, along with a form with questions about what they thought of the home.

This makes it easy for them to respond. We can then gather the comments of the agents who viewed the property and send them to our client who is selling the home. We also call the showing agents to answer any questions they may have, in order to facilitate the sale.


So True

itblarg's photostreamSue: Thank you for that complete answer.

When we are ready to sell our old place and buy a new home in Reston…you and your wife are the only realtors we intend to contact…

...we just love the way you work, your attention to detail, your thoroughness, your professionalism, your kindness, compassion, and understanding...

...your nuanced yet deeply meaningful way of communicating your care for us personally...

... the knowledge that you and Jan will go the extra 10 miles for us, meeting handymen, inspectors, carpet people, painters and I just know it will be the best experience of our lives outside the birth of our children. (I made up this last part of Tammy’s note...I couldn’t help it)

Steve: Thank you for the kind words Sue, we will do our best.



Posted by


Why pay more and get less when selling your home? Jan and Steve Bachman of RE/MAX Gateway use professional photographers, create interactive photo floor plans, print full color brochures, and make an individual property website for your listing that goes out to 40+ public real estate search sites including, Trulia, Zillow etc.


We also create a custom photo tour that is sent to other agents and prospective buyers.



RE/MAX Hall of Fame, Platinum Club, A Washingtonian Magazine Top Agent 2018

Happy to Help. No Hassle, No Pressure.

Jan and Steve Bachman are full time Realtors® with RE/MAX, specializing in Homes for Sale in Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Arlington Counties.



Our 3 rescue dogs have been GREAT! Go get a couple.

Comments (6)

Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Realty Center 262-567-2455 - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

YOu always post about interesting stuff...I never thought of posting about lockboxes!  Way to go!

Feb 14, 2011 01:59 AM
Margo Currie
Exit 1 Stop Realty - Saint Augustine Beach, FL

Lockboxes are a bit of a dilemma to me... I have listed and sold homes in an adjoining county with a different lockbox system. Generic makes it easier, if not as secure.

Feb 14, 2011 01:59 AM
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

Don't lock doors where I peddle properties! Sometimes a high security bread and butter knife if wedged in sideways inside a front hall door to keep the leaves and snow from blowing in if the door unlatches though! (Smile) Plastic credit cards easy in and out on a place locked up where the seller forgot to leave the key in the secret hiding place you two worked out. 

Feb 14, 2011 02:12 AM
Don MacLean
New England Real Estate Center Inc. - Easton, MA
Realtor-Homes for Sale- Easton, Mass 02356

I don't believe anything was left out.

I dropped one in the snow the other day 16 inches worth talk about fun lol

Enjoy the day

Feb 14, 2011 02:35 AM
William Feela
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.

Steve...I love the barn door lock...reminds me of when I was growing up on the farm!

Feb 14, 2011 06:25 AM
Steve and Jan Bachman
RE/MAX Gateway, Reston, Herndon, Ashburn, Sterling, Fairfax - Herndon, VA
Realtors - Northern Virginia

Kristin, I have a love hate relationship with lock boxes and the agents who do or do not manage them properly. Can you tell?

Margo, fortunately our neighboring counties will all be on the sale electronic system soon. I had to buy two sets of keys in the meantime...expensive. I hate combo boxes!!!!!!

Andy, This is just one more reason that folks SHOULD MOVE TO AROOSTOOK COUNTY MAINE!

Don, We have all done this!

Bill, We had an old barn behind one of my old childhood residences that we kept closed with whatever stick was handy.

Feb 14, 2011 09:30 AM