Real Estate & Mortgage Insights

Accessibility and the Lockbox

If you are selling your home, you should not be present when an agent brings a potential buyer to view the property. Successful marketing means that buyers need to be able to imagine the house as their future home. Nothing puts a damper on that more than having the current owners hanging around.

That is one reason why the lockbox is such a key tool for real estate agents.

A lockbox is a hollow metal box that attaches to the front doorknob or some secure place nearby. Inside the hollow area is another matchbox sized box that contains the key to the house. When an agent opens the lockbox, that smaller container slides out.

The lockbox gets its name because it is a locked box. A stranger cannot come by, open the box, get the key and gain entry to the house.

Only agents can do that.

Most modern lockboxes have a tiny microprocessor inside. You need an electronic key to open it and the only way to get a key is to become a member of the local Multiple Listing Service. All of the keys have a unique identifier so when someone opens the box, the microprocessor inside “registers” the agent who opens it. Agents are forbidden to let another agent use their electronic key.

Since the box is “reset” just before being placed on the door, any agent who opens the box can be identified – as well as the date and time they entered the house. That information can be downloaded at the local MLS Association. This works as a security measure for the homeowner.

But the main purpose of the lockbox is that it facilitates the sale of the home. Without it, selling or buying a home would be much more difficult.

Think of the alternatives.

Without a lockbox, the seller would have to be present when the buyer came by with their agent, and that does not really help to sell the home. Sellers could leave the door unlocked, of course, but in today’s security-conscious world, that is not a great idea.

One possibility is that the seller could give a key to their listing agent, but then the listing agent would always have to be present when another agent brought a buyer to the home. Showings would have to be scheduled tightly and that would be an inconvenience to the listing agent and the buyer’s agent…

…and it would be an inconvenience to the buyer..



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