In order for an agent to show a house to a buyer, the agent must have access to the property. The simplest solution is to have a lockbox on the front door with a key. There are two basic types of lockboxes.
The first is the combination lockbox. In order to open it, one must have the combination. The first problem with these is that frequently when an agent schedules a showing, they are not told what the combination is. As a result when they get to the property they have no way of getting in. Another problem is that the code could easily fall into the wrong hands - maybe the buyer was watching over the agent's should as he opened it, maybe someone overheard the code being given over the phone, maybe an agent wrote the code down on a piece of paper with the address and lost the paper. Yet another issue with these are that they do not record who has come and gone and they can easily be tampered with. Many of these lockboxes simply have three spin dials. Any kid with ten minutes and a little patience could easily work through the 1,000 possible combinations in order to get it open and then they have free access to the property!
The second type is the electronic lockbox. The type used in the Omaha Area Board of Realtors are GE Supra iBox. These can only be opened with what is call an eKey. This is a small device that each Realtor has which can communicate with electronic lockboxes in order to open them. When opened the name of the agent, date, and time are recorded, providing a record of access. Without an eKey these lockboxes are virtually impenetrable.
Now you might ask yourself, "Why would any agent use a combination lockbox when the electronic ones are obviously so superior?" The answer is simple... Money! The combination lockboxes generally cost about $10-$15 a piece; whereas the electronic one cost about $95. If an agent cannot afford electronic lockboxes then how much do you think they can afford for advertising? How much confidence can you put in an agent if they do not even have the proper tools for their job? I wouldn't trust a surgeon who uses a steak knife instead of a scalpel.
Agents, don't use combination lockboxes. Sellers, don't hire an agent that uses combination lockboxes.
Trumm Team - Alliance Real Estate, Omaha, NE