Lock Box location and codes

Real Estate Broker/Owner

I'm ranting because I think normal business practice should dictate, but it doesn't happen in the real world.

I wanted to see a house for a client. I pull it up on the MLS and a lock box is mentioned but no other information was provided. I call the agent on the contact phone and no answer on the office line and voicemail on cell phone, so I left a voicemail letting the agent know that I'm previewing the house. Regardless, the client wanted information quickly, so I hopped in the car.

I went to the house, found the lock box, and lo and behold, it's a manual one! I've really wasted my trip.

Really, Why would an agent list a house with a manual lockbox if they aren't readily available to give to the code to access the house for a showing? Why do agents still use manual lockboxes when there's high tech ones available? Why do we as agents pay for a lockbox key (I have a Supra) but some agents have a darn manual one!?!?

/vent off

David Stewart
On Top of the World Communities, Inc. - Ocala, FL

This Supra electronic lockbox stuff is a different world to me. I am in the Metro Detroit area; we universally use combination lock boxes. There are NO electronic lockboxes here. I have heard from agents who were in the business long before I was that at one time our boards did try to impose the electronic boxes. But the experience was that the agents revolted for two reasons:  1. The electronic lockboxes got cracked by people with electronic smarts, and homes were getting broken into much more often than with combination boxes. And 2. the costs were so high--very expensive boxes, plus a monthly fee to use them.

In our market, showings are done by appointment--you call the listing broker and set the time and date, and give the broker your license number so that your status can be verified. Showings must be confirmed (either immediately if those are the seller's instructions or by a follow-up call to your broker's office), and then the lockbox combination is given.

I'm curious about the comments that say combo boxes are easily broken into. I've never once heard of that happening here with the most commonly used lockbox, the pushbutton type. I have also talked to a lockpick, and he said he has never been able to figure out a way to crack a combo pushbutton lockbox. I would like to know more about the security of these boxes, if there is a problem with it. 

Mar 16, 2008 10:28 PM
JoEllen Stranger-Thorsen
Eustis, FL
Lake County, FL

As a manual lockbox person, I'll give you my viewpoint. I have several electronic lockboxes and an elctronic key, they are a great tool and I have no problem with them myself. However during the frenzy we had agents coming in from all parts to show houses in our area. A lot of these were new agents who 1) didn't always make an appointment and/or 2) hadn't updated their key for my area and therefore couldn't get in. (There were also old-timers who just didn't follow instructions.) I finally got to the point where I decided manual was simpler. The agent has to make an appointment to get the code and I don't have to worry about the programming of their key.

Of course I make myself available and respond promptly to requests for showings. And I make sure my office knows the combo and showing instructions in case there is a problem with reaching me.

Mar 17, 2008 01:43 AM
Johnny Huang
Pleasant Hill, CA
Insurance and Real Estate Broker

David-Thank you for your viewpoint. I can see how different market area's can be, even on lockbox issues.

JoEllen-Also, Thank you for your viewpoint. It's a good thing you made yourself available. On my case, the agent wasn't available, hence my vent. :-)


Mar 17, 2008 03:09 AM
Latonia Parks
Top Bragg Realty, Fayetteville NC, Home of the 82d ABN DIV - Fayetteville, NC
Certified Military Relocation Expert
I hate getting an answering machine too when you are trying to contact an agent.  I know they can't answer the phone ALL the time but there should be a back up plan in that case.  I don't mind either lockbox as long as the info is easily accessible.
Mar 17, 2008 04:02 AM
Ken Smith
Suburban House Hunters - Arlington Heights, IL

Johnny, that makes more sense. That isn't how things are normally done around here, would say that 99% of listings require an appointment.  Yet we still have agents just decide to let themselves in. Actually had a seller want to press charges once as the agent didn't have an appointment and just showed up. Entered the home via the lockbox. Her 14 year old daughter was home sick and sleeping, woke up to 3 men standing in her doorway. To say the least the owner was pissed and the kid was freaked out.

Karen, so does your sarcastic comment make you the pot or the kettle? In your area a phone call might be all that needed as a standard, but that is not acceptable in mine. Try and remember that real estate is local.

Mar 17, 2008 04:47 AM
Ann Heitland
Retired from RE/MAX Peak Properties - Flagstaff, AZ
Retired from Flagstaff Real Estate Sales
Ugh. I don't get it at all.
Mar 17, 2008 01:25 PM
Karen Anne Stone
New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County - Fort Worth, TX
Fort Worth Real Estate
Ken:  Your comment started the sarcasm.  With my comment, I am basically holding up a mirror.  Sorry that you didn't like what you see.   Peace.
Mar 17, 2008 03:27 PM


 I totally aggre with you. Why use the manual lockboxes when hitech ones exist? maybe people are more traditional than you think and can ligically reason the mechanisms behind a manual lockbox but not hitefch lock boxes. i mean to really understand a hitech lockbox you have to be crazy.

Mar 18, 2008 05:20 PM
Theresa Grant
Coldwell Banker Sky Ridge Realty - Lake Arrowhead, CA
Broker/CEO/Team Lead - Theresa Grant & Associates
Johnny - Is your area working with an 'alliance' of MLS systems? Here in SoCal I'll put a combo box on every property with the seller's permission, REO or regular resale, so that any agent from any MLS viewing my listing can show it (if they read the confidential agent remarks). Otherwise I'd have up to 12 lock boxes on a house to let everyone from the variety of MLSes/boards in. :) But I totally hear you -- sometimes I'll get to a house and see a combo box, with no mention of the combo anywhere, and I want to beat my head against a wall.
Mar 20, 2008 04:39 PM
Jim Patton
Aspire Home Real Estate 209-404-0816 - Modesto, CA
Realtor - Stanislaus ,Merced, San Joaquin Counties

Johnny - The asset management company that I list REO's for requires that I put combo boxes on the properties with thier code number.  Their reason for this is that that way they can inspect thier assets.

I also put a supra box on all of my listings for agents access.   Our MLS requires us to use the supra box if we put in the listing that there is a lockbox.  We can get fined if we put a combination anywhere on the MLS listing. I also put in the agent comments of the MLS that there is a Supra lockbox on the property.  In my area with all the REO's we have I now call the listing agent first before showing to make sure its a supra lockbox, because not everyone follows the rules. 

Mar 28, 2008 04:36 PM
Johnny Huang
Pleasant Hill, CA
Insurance and Real Estate Broker
Jim-Good to know that it's different with REO's and different as regards to local customs.
Mar 28, 2008 07:37 PM
Bernie Germani
New Key Lending - San Pedro, CA

Well here is my take as I use both. The reason is because our previous company only sold homes in the Inland Empire of California, now that we have expanded to all of Southern California our Supra lock-box will not work in other counties unless we go the board over there and have that box programmed, which is a hassle, and very time consuming.( I guess I have been lazy truth be told)

Anyways so with all of our LA, SD, OC properties we have combo boxes. We put the code on the MLS so our other industry related professionals will not have the same headaches as Johnny. We currently have 30 listings with lock boxes, and as of this response we have not had one complaint.

Apr 02, 2008 04:20 AM
Johnny Huang
Pleasant Hill, CA
Insurance and Real Estate Broker

Bernie-Believe me, If I had the code, none of this would have happened :-) Reminds me of, "If Woody had gone to the police..."

Apr 02, 2008 04:38 AM
Robert Machado
HomePointe Property Management, CRMC - Sacramento, CA
CPM MPM - Property Manager and Property Management
The showing instructions should be in mls.  If not the broker should be notified and if warranted the local board.
Apr 05, 2008 06:04 PM

Aren't you people being paid for your time?  Whatever happened to being there for a showing?  Even if the Buyers' agent wants to walk around without you, earn your money and show up to answer any questions and/or calm fears.  For the commissions that are paid in CA, you should be there for a showing with wine and backrubs for potential Buyers and their agents.  using a lockbox at all is cheesy, lazy and irresponsible.

Jul 24, 2008 01:40 PM
Jim Patton
Aspire Home Real Estate 209-404-0816 - Modesto, CA
Realtor - Stanislaus ,Merced, San Joaquin Counties

Stephen -   I have to disagree with your statement that using a lockbox is "cheesy,lazy and irresponsible".   It is our (Realtors) responsibility to get our clients homes sold.  In order to do that we have to make that home available to potential buyers. A lockbox is one of the best ways to do that.  When an agent has multiple listings, appointments to show homes and listing appointments it's just not possible to be there to show a listing everytime someone wants to see it.  With a lockbox any agent can show that home.  Most buyers that are working with an agent dont want another agent (or the seller) present when they are viewing a home.  They have a working relationship with an agent already and that agent is the best person to show them a property. 

Of course if someone calls me because of a sign I have on a property I will make every effort to show them that property myself.  Again having a lockbox on the property is very important so I can show the potential buyer that property whether or not the property owner is there. 

If I am showing a potential buyer other properties other than one of my own listings I absolutely want those properties to have a lockbox.  I want to show that property on my clients schedule, not on the listing agents or sellers schedule.  Again without the lockbox that would be impossible.

Another thing that lockboxes do is keep track of who has shown a home and when they did. The lockboxes we use here in Central Califoria actually will send me an email daily with who showed it, when they showed it and their contact information.  

So in my opinion, and I think many other agents opinion, I think it is very irresponsible to my sellers to NOT have a lockbox on a property I have listed.

Jul 24, 2008 04:00 PM
Johnny Huang
Pleasant Hill, CA
Insurance and Real Estate Broker

I agree with Jim Patton. Thanks for the response!

Stephen- is your response about commissions or lockboxes? Because CA isn't the only area with high property values.

Jul 24, 2008 04:26 PM
Maya Thomas, Broker
Tampa, FL
Please see my client recommendations.

Which electronic lock box do you like best?

Mar 26, 2009 10:10 AM
Al Dobbs
ADD Real Estate - North Chicago, IL

Maybe things need to go back to old school. There was a time in which each office had a picture book of listings; each listing had showing instructions and the combo. If someone called the office and didn't have a Supra key--the listing agent or the broker would meet at the property to open the door. Or at least have a key at the office.  No wonder the public is so down on us. We ask them to trust us to sell their biggest asset. Then no one answers the phone or is willing to go to the house and let a prospective buyer in. Something new school-looking into the services where there is an 800 number for agents to call and get the showing instructions.  They are open a ton of hours.

Aug 11, 2009 07:58 PM
Lynn B. Friedman CRS Atlanta, GA 404-617-6375
Atlanta Homes ODAT Realty - Love our Great City - Love our Clients! Buckhead - Midtown - Westside - Atlanta, GA
Concierge Service for Our Atlanta Sellers & Buyers

Stephen -
Such a good post! I am researchng about LOCKBOX posts and found yours!
Have a happy day -

Dec 08, 2013 07:21 AM