My real estate salesperson asked if she could put the key to my home in a lockbox because I can’t attend daytime showings. What do I need to know about lockboxes, and how should we discuss this matter?
Let’s start with some basic information about lockboxes: A lockbox is a small box that holds keys to enter a property, and it’s usually opened by entering in a security code on the box itself, or through a smartphone app. You might have seen one hanging from a door handle or attached to another secure location if you’ve visited a home for sale or rent. Some newer electronic models include additional security features such as the ability to alert the brokerage when the box has been opened, identify the salesperson who opens it, record the time and date it’s used, or only open during specific, programmed times of the day, and some even allow the home owner to get information about when it is accessed.
If you’re undecided about allowing lockbox access to your home, remember that the decision is entirely yours to make, and your salesperson can only go ahead with giving lockbox access to your home if you have given your written consent. Hopefully this consent is informed by an explanation of the benefits and risks of using a lockbox.
The main benefit is convenience for both you and your salesperson; lockboxes can be especially helpful when the property is vacant or located in another city. Using a lockbox can also provide greater flexibility for potential buyers who wish to view your home when they and their salesperson are available.
The risk in using a lockbox is that there’s always a possibility it could get broken into, or the wrong person could obtain access to the lockbox code. When you discuss this issue with your salesperson, be sure to ask questions about their brokerage’s security protocols, such as how often they change the code.
Salespeople and brokerages understand that the use of lockboxes requires mutual trust between consumers and the real estate brokerage industry, and that trust must never be broken. They know that a real estate salesperson can’t provide a lockbox code to anyone who isn’t registered with RECO either as a salesperson or as a broker (sharing the code with unlicenced person, even brokerage employees or unaccompanied buyers is prohibited), or show up to view a property without making an appointment with the selling brokerage.
Should you decide against using a lockbox, instruct your salesperson to only show your home to interested buyers through scheduled appointments when your salesperson or you are physically present.
If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email email@example.com.
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.