Thursday, March 20, 2008

Lock Boxes - what are they & why do I need one?

If you've ever listed your home for sale or looked at a home for sale, you've seen a lock box on the front door. A lock box contains a key to your home that will allow Realtors to show your home to prospective buyers. Every now and then I run into someone who just doesn't want a lock box on the front door and I have to explain exactly how important it is. During prospective showings, it is always best if the seller isn't home. Buyers have a hard time being honest with each other and the Realtor when they know the homeowner might be able to hear the conversation. Even if the homeowner leaves when you get there - it immediatley reinforces the idea that "we are looking at someone elses house" rather than "We are looking at our potential house". This is the same reason we as Realtors often tell people to put away collections and perosnal items that aren't necessary to stage the home for selling.
Lock boxes come in many different shapes and sizes, but usually only 2 different types. Combo boxes and Realtor boxes. Combo boxes usually have a combination or key punch pad with a pre-determined code. The Realtor sets the code to xyz and then gives that code to other Realtors when they request a showing. Many smaller towns like Sandwich use these boxes exclusively. The nice thing about this box is that they are easy to use. In addition, if you have a vacant property or property that needs work - this type of loxbox can be used to let painters, plumbers or repair people get access to the property when work needs to be done. Sometimes I use a combo lockbox in addition to a Realtor lockbox.
A Realtor lockbox is electronic and is only accesible to Realtors and other members of a local Real Estate Board (such as appraisers). An electronic Realtor lockbox has many advantages. Firstly, Realtors must have an electronic "key" that looks like a little mini calculator. Showing Realtors still call to make an appointment -but can gain access with their personal key. The advantage here is that each Realtor is logged upon entry. The listing Realtor can get a list of every Realtor that has used their key to enter the property. This is a great tool to use for follow up with buyers. As a professional courtesty -Realtors are supposed to leave a card when they show the property. Often times - home owners will ask "Did that 3:00pm showing actually show the house?". As a Realtor, I might call the Realtor and get no answer. Then I can check the showing log connected to that particular lockbox (yes, each one has it's own separate identity) and verify if the agent actually showed the property.
Another advantage of the Realtor lockbox is the "timed entry" feature. Most lockboxes are set to only allow showings between 7am and 10pm. That means even someone with an electronic key cannot get in before 7am or after 10pm. A nice security feature. I believe that feature can be changed - but I've never done it.
So if yo'ure selling your house- make sure you have a lockbox! You always want to make showing your home as easy as possible. Remember - you aren't selling "Your House" you are selling someone else their new house!!

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