Lately I have been spending a considerable amount of time shepherding buyer's from home to home in search of their perfect place. And lately, most of what we are visiting is either a Short Sale or a Bank Owned Home.
I have seen more than a few homes which have had things missing, faucets in the kitchen, light fixtures in the hall, a built-in bookcase, etc. Usually I have chalked this up to overzealous homeowners taking what they felt was "rightly" theirs.
But I have also begun to encounter something which is distressing, dismaying and downright depressing. The keys to the homes are turning up missing from key-boxes and we are not just talking about the folks who insist on using the old fashioned combo boxes, we're talking about electronic Supra key boxes. And its not just the keys that are going missing, I have also begun finding out signs are getting poached as well.
Now, I am willing to believe that perhaps the signs just "grew legs" on their own. It could happen. I am even able to envision a band of merry pranksters bounding happily from property to property gathering rosebuds and For Sale signs where they may. But am not able to stretch my mind far enough to allow that these selfsame free spirits are accessing these key-boxes and innocently and quite conveniently, neglecting to replace the key, yet remembering to lock every door, after they have finished viewing or showing the homes.
The thing that makes me most unhappy is realizing that the folks doing the key boosting, especially in the case of those removed from the electronic key boxes, have to be other agents. It is no coincidence that whenever I have encountered the missing key, missing sign, phenomenon it appears to coincide with a "hot" property that has received multiple offers.
Perhaps there are some agents out there who think that this is a way to "protect" the property so that their client's won't have as much competition. Perhaps they think that they are acting in their client's best interests or perhaps they are just great big hairy poo-poo heads with no concern for anyone but themselves and no comprehension of the code of ethics those of us who have chosen to become Realtors® follow.
Here's the thing... I know it is possible to put the key in your pocket and, what with juggling a cellphone, Supra Key and the myriad of other things that find their way into your fingers, to forget you popped that puppy into your 501's. But don't you think you might realize it when you went to lock the door, or reached into your pocket again or at the very least, did the laundry?
And, if you find a random key somewhere on your person, would it kill you to give a call to the agents whose listings you have shown to give them the heads up that you may have made a boo-boo and abscounded with the key. 'Cause, I've got to tell you I am getting pretty dang tired of being the one who seems to get stuck being the bearer of bad tidings.
I'm also thinking that this key snagging thing is not a great strategy to pursue. I'm hearing tell that some banks are starting to insist that their REO agents not put keys at the property at all, but instead want their properties to be shown by appointment only and for the keys to stay at the agent's office. I don't know about you, but I sure don't want this to become the norm again. I can count on three fingers of one hand, the number of agents in my neck of the woods who regularly and consistently answer their cellphones and/or return their calls. Nowadays with gas prices soaring, I don't want to have to drive all over creation gathering up keys in some perverse type of Short Sale scavenger hunt.
Sure, stealing the key might delay someone seeing the home. And taking the sign will lessen the number of folks who will drive by and get curious, but it won't stop someone who is determined to view the place. And if you really want to help ensure that your client is the victorious buyer of the property, don't engage in larcenous acts on their behalf, just put the key back where it goes, leave the sign swinging in the breeze and help your clients craft the best offer and everyone wins.
Take care, help lots of people and have a wonderful day!