Posted on July 23, 2011
I was talking with a client about just this question the other day. She was curious whether having a lockbox on her door was in the best interest of selling her home. Before answering the question, though, we need some background information…. A lockbox is an apparatus that a listing agent can place on the door of a home (with the seller’s permission) that houses a key to the property inside the apparatus. A buyer’s agent, who wants to show the property, can use an electronic device (or a code) to access the key. It usually happens that if a lockbox is on the door of the property, the listing agent is not there to show the property. And this means that the listing agent is also not there to meet the buyer, answer any of the buyer’s questions, give a history of the house, gauge the reaction of the buyer to the home, etc. Lockboxes are used regularly in such towns as Natick, Framingham, Sudbury and Wayland, especially for homes with lower price points.
On the other hand, lockboxes are rarely used in the towns of Weston, Wellesley, Dover and Lincoln. The practice in these towns is to show a home through accompanied showings. As you might guess, an accompanied showing is when the listing broker is there at the home to take the buyer through the home. This way, the listing agent can answer any questions the buyer may have, give the history of any renovations or upgrades to the home, meet the buyer, get a sense of him/her and then communicate all of this information plus more to the seller.
So going back to the question at hand – Should I use a lockbox when selling my home? – my answer is No. I feel strongly that it is in your best interest as a seller to have accompanied showings rather than to use a lock box on the front door. When you put a lock box on the front door and the listing agent is not there to show your house, I believe that you lose a tremendous opportunity to learn about the profile of and feedback from the buyer, which is valuable information to have especially from a pricing and marketing perspective. Additionally, without the listing agent giving the buyer a professional “tour” of the home and answering any questions, your house isn’t necessarily portrayed in the best light. In other words, marketing your home also includes showing your home, and you should capitalize on the vital service that listing agents provide to their seller clients through accompanied showings.
There are some people who argue that a lockbox makes a home much more accessible to buyers and their agents, which in turn facilitates/increases the number of showings and foot traffic through your property. But I don’t see it this way. Even if there is a lockbox on the front door, the buyer’s agent still needs to make an appointment with the listing agent to show the house; otherwise it could turn into a free-for-all. You then might ask, “What if the listing agent has a scheduling conflict and can’t be there to show the house when the buyer wants to see it? In this case, it seems that the lockbox would come in very handy.” But even in these instances, there are solutions. Either the listing agent can find an associate to cover the showing or the two agents can find another mutually-agreeable time to show the property. So in essence, the bottom line of having a lockbox on the front door of your home means the listing agent is not there to showcase your property and provide you with valuable and essential market information. And this to me is a tremendous disservice to you as the seller.
But these are just my thoughts – what are yours? Have you ever sold a home and used a lockbox? Or did you opt for accompanied showings? I can’t wait to hear….