I’m selling my home and my sales rep wants to use a lockbox. How can I ensure that my home is safe?

A lockbox can be an effective and convenient tool to allow potential buyers and their sales representatives to access your home while you’re not there.

A small lockbox is placed near the entrance of a home, often attached to the doorknob, with an access code that protects a set of keys inside it. An interested buyer’s sales professional should contact your representative, or your brokerage, to get the access code for a viewing. At a specific, agreed-upon time, the buyer’s representative enters the code to obtain the keys and supervise the viewing of the property. When the viewing is done, they are expected to lock up the home and return the keys securely to the lockbox.

RECO encourages all brokerages to have an established lockbox policy that encompasses many of the concerns in this column, and is included in a written agreement between you and your real estate professional outlining who must be present for every showing to safeguard your property.

Your real estate rep should protect you by following some basic precautions. For example, do they regularly change the access code? This simple security measure can make a big difference. When choosing a lockbox code, they should avoid using the home address number, 1-2-3-4, or other simple combinations.

Digital lockboxes permit a greater level of security. They can be programmed so that codes can be changed easily and frequently and, in some cases, automatically. Each person viewing the property can be provided with their own unique access code allowing your representative to keep track of who is accessing your home using the lockbox.

Your brokerage must confirm the identity and registration of every person asking for the access code to verify they are a real estate representative registered with RECO.

Ask your brokerage to keep a written record of real estate professionals they have provided the access code to, in the event that something goes missing from your home or accidental damage should occur.

As well, it’s important to ensure your household items remain safe when strangers walk through your home. Remove anything with value — sentimental or monetary — before the viewing. Be sure small items, such as portable electronics and jewelry, are in a secure place and remove any prescription medications or personal documents like bills, bank statements and passports.

Finally, it is important to establish safe, property-viewing protocols during this pandemic. In addition to keeping your home and property safe, everyone must do their best to keep high-contact surfaces safe, space out viewing appointments and limit the spread of viruses.

Keep your home safe and secure by having the important conversation with your real estate professional to ensure they are taking all precautions.

If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email information@reco.on.ca.


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Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at reco.on.ca, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/RECOhelps.

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