You’ve seen them as you pass houses for sale: lockboxes hanging from the front door handle or porch railing. A key inside the box enables real estate agents to get into the house to show it. You might be surprised how important a role lockboxes can play in selling your house. Here’s how.
Unlocking the Sale
Lockboxes make it much easier for agents other than the one listing your house to show it to prospective buyers. When lockboxes were first offered in the 1970s, they were simply a shackle hanging from the door handle and required an actual key or a numbered combination to access the homeowner’s house key inside. Today’s “key” to entry is a code, and potential buyers’ agents obtain it via the MLS database. The lockbox means your listing agent need not be at the showing, which allows for more showings and more opportunities for a sale.
An Information Tool
Lockboxes have come a long way since their early days. Now Bluetooth technology allows the lock of a listed house to be programmed through the MLS database. The showing agent can access the house key by opening the lockbox with her smartphone, which triggers the sending of an e-mail to the listing agent informing him that the house has been shown and by whom. This technology also allows the listing agent to generate temporary key codes for a limited time, further controlling access. The technology provides valuable information for follow-up between your agent and the showing agent. Your agent can track statistical trends regarding your home, such as the number and length of showings.
Is it safe to put your house key in these boxes? Certain features are built into lockboxes to safeguard against abuse. The boxes are made of tough materials such as steel and hardened plastic, with a soft outer shell to protect the door’s finish. Agents entering houses must have an identifying PIN code issued by the MLS system. The boxes can be programmed to shut down during certain hours, such as overnight. Agents who are members of the National Association of REALTORS® must adhere to strict ethics and security protocols regarding lockboxes.
Will Lockboxes Become Obsolete?
Smart-home technology presents a challenge to lock boxes. These home systems allow homeowners to remotely control their heating and air, home entertainment systems and security cameras, as well as to unlock their doors for showing agents and potential buyers. The homeowners can even turn the lights on for these visitors. Does this technology make the lockbox unnecessary?
The answer is no. The lockbox provides many features that smart-home technology does not. By requiring a showing agent to have an assigned PIN code to enter your house, the lockbox provides a layer of security the homeowner doesn’t get with smart-home technology. Nor can smart-home technology provide important tracking data about who is seeing your house, which is a valuable sales tool for your agent. Lockbox manufacturers are already working on new applications that integrate with a homeowner’s smart-home program to provide the same security and tracking features as the lockboxes.