In 1955, a real estate professional by the name of Delbert Williams came up with what is now known as the realtor lock box. The lockbox then was just an aluminum container for the house key. This container was secured with a padlock and then hidden on the premises. Although simple in design, at the time, the lockbox had solved a problem that most real estate professionals encounter of having to go back and forth from their office or the house owners to get the keys to access properties they were selling.
The process took time away from showing a house to prospective buyers. The lockbox was the perfect solution, and many real estate professionals followed suite to make it easier for them to do their jobs.
If you’re just like Delbert Williams, and other real estate agents who run back and forth to the office or colleagues to get keys, then maybe you need a lockbox for your properties. However, you might have heard some disadvantages of using a lockbox, deterring you from buying. In this article, we’ll discuss four advantages and disadvantages of using a real estate lockbox.
Advantages of Using a Real Estate Lockbox
Lockboxes Can Save a Realtor’s Time
The main purpose of a lockbox is to save time. Without a lockbox, agents would have to get the keys to a property from the house owner, their office, or colleagues.
There is also the chance that the changing of hands could lead to an agent taking the wrong key. This mistake not only makes it difficult to show a house, but if a buyer has to wait for the right key to be found, they might get impatient because of the delay and just back out before even viewing the property.
A lockbox also helps a real estate agent with multiple listings under their care. It saves them from having to bring multiple keys with them as they work, lowers the risk of accidentally grabbing the wrong key, and avoids the possibility of losing a key.
Lockboxes Are Convenient for Houses with a Lot of Foot Traffic
A house for sale might have contractors, workers, agents, and occupants walking in and out of the property. Having a lockbox eliminates the need for all of these people to have copies of a house key.
If too many people had a key for the house, there is the possibility of losing it and giving people unauthorized access to the property. Aside from this, giving them a key would mean they would have access to the property whenever they wanted. This could be inconvenient if the house was occupied, or it can even lead to a serious security breach if there’s no one around.
Electronic Lockbox Access Can Be Set to a Specific Time
Electronic lockboxes have more advanced security measures, and one of these measures is the ability to set the time a lockbox can be accessed. For example, the house owner or an agent can allow people to unlock the lockbox only during daytime or office hours. The codes given to workers or other authorized personnel will only work during the given time. This security measure prohibits unauthorized access, especially if a property has a lot of foot traffic.
Electronic Lockboxes Can Track Access to Property
Another advantage of an electronic lockbox is its ability to track lockbox activity. Because electronic lockboxes have advanced security measures, smartphone apps or electronic key cards are required to access them. As these apps or key cards are assigned to a specific person, their information is logged in whenever they unlock the storage unit. Aside from their name, the time and date of when they accessed the lockbox are also recorded.
This security measure can help an owner track any unauthorized usage and suspicious behavior from their workers or agents. It can also deter workers or agents from abusing their access to the property as house owners will see who accessed the property and when it was accessed.
Disadvantages of Using a Real Estate Lockbox
Lockboxes’ Keys Can Get Lost or Stolen
The biggest disadvantage of using a lockbox that requires a key to open it is the risk of losing the key itself. A solution for this is to keep track of the key or place it somewhere safe. Another solution is to get a more advanced lockbox. Either a combination or electronic lockbox would provide better security. A combination code will not be stolen easily, and an electronic lockbox will have additional security features like those mentioned previously.
Combination Lockboxes’ Code Can Be Cracked
Although combination lockboxes can provide better security, the combination code can still be cracked.
In some cases, prospective buyers can sneak a peek as the agent enters the code. They might then return to the property to steal furniture or use the house for their enjoyment.
A real estate agent may also accidentally reveal the code. If they have it written down somewhere, this piece of information can get lost in the office or near the property, giving strangers access to the house. If the code is on a cloud server without password protection, the server could easily be hacked.
The greatest disadvantage to a combination lockbox is that some older models can be broken into by a thief trying all kinds of combinations. As these lockboxes don’t have a program to limit the combinations being entered, a malicious individual can keep guessing until they crack the code.
You can avoid these problems by taking extra measures to ensure the code combination will never get revealed or stolen. Obfuscating any line of sight as the code is being entered or getting the key before the visitors arrive are just some ways to safeguard the combination. It’s best to change the code regularly or right after a showing so that guests can’t use the code you previously entered.
Another solution is to get an electronic lockbox instead. Because electronic lockboxes use an electronic key card or a smartphone app to be unlocked, the lockbox isn’t as easily cracked as other types of storage units.
Older Lockboxes Can Deteriorate or Can Be Forced Open
You might be tempted to get an older model of a lockbox as these will be cheaper, but they can also pose a security threat.
Older models can be damaged by the elements. Lockboxes can that are subjected to heavy snow or rainfall can deteriorate over time. Thus, they can easily rust or break down, which will make it hard for an agent to open the lockbox and access the property. This type of damage can also make it easy for anyone to force open the lockbox, giving easy access to the keys of the property.
To guarantee that this never happens to you, ensure that the lockbox you buy is made of sturdy and durable materials that can withstand any type of weather or forceful impact. Newer models are also fire-proof and burglar-proof, giving them an added layer of security and protection.
Electronic Lockboxes Can Be Expensive
Because of the security features of an electronic lockbox, such models can be expensive for some homeowners. Good quality lockboxes with all the best features and an easy-to-understand smartphone app interface will usually cost around $100 or more. Many homeowners will balk at the price and feel like they should settle for something cheaper or not buy one at all.
But a lockbox is a great investment if you want to keep your home safe from invaders, especially if you’re opening it to several strangers in the hope that they will buy it.
Lockboxes provide several benefits to both house owners and real estate agents, such as ease of access to the property and added security. And while there may be some disadvantages to using a lockbox, these disadvantages still outweigh the many benefits that they can bring to the table.
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