Profile picture for jenn10302001

Is it normal for a RE Agent to give clients the combos to lockboxes?

I am currently in the process of finding a new home to purchase and have been looking at a lot of short sales and REOs. My agent will just give me the code to the lockbox whenever she can so that I can show myself the property. Is this normal? To me it does come in handy but it also seems strange that she would allow me to do this. I could steal appliances or something if I really wanted to...

EDIT - She has only done this on unoccupied properties, do the same rules apply to unoccupied homes? Also, do you think she is just being lazy or that she doesn't think I'm a serious buyer and that is her reasoning behind this? Thanks for the insight.
  • January 12 2011 - Palm Harbor
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Answers (79)

No!  Not allowed in Texas ......
  • May 11 2013
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Well , I have a different view, codes of ethics, MLS rules etc, aside. It is just  a bad and risky practice. I don't believe you would have posted this question if you did not have a since that something was wrong with the way this person is doing business.  I would like to add that not all REO , HUD's and short sales are safe. There are properties out there that have damage from  fire, storm, vandalism, week ceilings from leaking roofs. So the agent is not only exposing the property to vandalism, but you to personal risk.
  • May 11 2013
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Profile picture for SLC Realtor
This type of behavior needs to be reported. These type of agents give the rest of us a bad name. Yes, she is just being lazy!
  • May 10 2013
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Profile picture for srmcdowell
This is definitly not allowed and it is a violation of Realtor Code of Ethics.
It does not matter that the property is not occupied, the fact is that she is being incredibly lazy and if reported would face serious consequences.  If she is working in this manner prior to writing your offer, imagine what shortcuts she may take with all of the incredibly important steps that follow. I would suggest finding another agent that will be proactive on your behalf.    
  • May 10 2013
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To user1909178 - It doesn't matter if it is your sister, your mother, your spouse or anyone else.  If you are NOT the agent, she has no business giving you the code.  

And although  it is in the Realtor® code of ethics that w/o the permission of the owner/agent, the agent is not to give out the code, the poster did not specify if the agent was a Realtor® or just a licensee.  Some MLSs also have it in their rules. 

At the end of the day though, this is just lazy bad judgement on the agent's part.  And they wonder why our profession has such a bad reputation.  

If you want to go by the house, fine.  Look from the outside, but go with your agent (You could also subject to trespassing laws in some jurisdiction and could be arrested.  Just because there is a sign in the yard, doesnt give anyone free reign). 
  • May 10 2013
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I think it is the agent being lazy. I sell lots of foreclosures, and for the same reasons you are mentioning above. I install SUPRA keys on all my listings so that agents have to accompany their clients. 
I believe it is incredibly important for the agent representing you to go with you to the property.  The agent has more knowledge than you with regards to homes and they may catch some repairs/issues that need to be addressed prior to writing any offer.
  • May 10 2013
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Wow that is against the rules here in Indiana I know.  An Agent could lose thier license here.  Bank owned and short sales are no different then owner occupied properties. 
  
  • May 07 2013
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I am confident that that is againt the National Association of Realtor's code of ethics. A Realtor® should always accompany a buyer through a vacated property unless the owner/shower or listing agent are present. 
  • May 07 2013
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How many is a lot as far as houses that you have been looking at? and are you prequalified and how soon do you plan to purchase? Is there a particular reason you are looking at a lot of short sales and REO's? While its unacceptable to allow you to go into a property alone, there are always two sides to every story - would love to have your agent's point of view...
  • May 07 2013
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No  Bad practice. 
  • May 07 2013
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No this is not normal and it is a violation of the Realtor Code of Ethics.  Realtor's should be providing you value by being an extra set of eyes and ears for you while walking through the homes, especially if it is a foreclosure.  There are things Realtor's can identify (i.e. Polybutelene pipes) that a typical buyer might not be aware of.  Repairs could cost you thousands of dollars and should be accounted for.  If this is a home you wanted to write an offer on, how will your Realtor be able to negotiate the best terms for you if they don't know the product?  Your first instincts are correct, unfortunately some agents are lazy and don't want to work for the money.  I would be happy to refer you to a top notch agent in your area.
  • November 29 2012
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NO an Agent should never give out a lock box code for entry regardless if the home is vacant or not.  As noted by other agents, this violates the Code of Ethics.  Your agent could be turned in to the board and fined a substantial amount.
  • November 28 2012
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Profile picture for stcloud
How about if that agent is your sister?
  • November 28 2012
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Jenn: yes it applies even to short sales and REO properties. The reason could be one or the other or both. She's putting the seller at risk AND she's putting you at risk. You have no idea what you may be walking into. Get a new agent that actually works for her/his commissions.
  • October 20 2012
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Giving out a Lock Box Combination to the General Public is a violation of the  Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of the National Association of Realtors.

Here are a few of the Codes which would/could be violated by providing acces to the general public.

• Standard of Practice 1-16

REALTORS® shall not access or use, or permit or enable
others to access or use, listed or managed property on
terms or conditions other than those authorized by the
owner or seller. (Adopted 1/12)

• Standard of Practice 3-9

REALTORS® shall not provide access to listed property
on terms other than those established by the owner or the
listing broker. (Adopted 1/10)

• Standard of Practice 3-10
The duty to cooperate established in Article 3 relates to
the obligation to share information on listed property, and
to make property available to other brokers for showing
to prospective purchasers/tenants when it is in the best
interests of sellers/landlords. (Adopted 1/11)

To view the entire Code you can go to the following web site...
http://www.parealtor.org/clientuploads/Legal/Professional_Standards/Code_of_Ethics_Current.pdf

  • October 20 2012
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At the risk of making enemies I will say 2 reasons why combos are still used on some vacant homes: 1. Property is still being worked on while it is being marketed, so electricians, plumbers, etc need access. 2. REO listing agents and other Realtors that list investor oriented property don't care "who" sells the property so they give the code to Realtors that are not members of the local MLS/Board the listing party belongs to. In conclusion, combos are useful...but not in the hands of unlicensed professionals. Too bad so many lazy Realtors don't accompany their investors to a lot of homes anymore. Best wishes from So-Cal
  • October 20 2012
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Profile picture for frustratedbuyer77777
I have had the same experience here in NC...I have another question for you all though.  If you are under contract for a bank foreclosure, is it typical for the selling agent to refuse to change the code on the home after it has been shown?  We are under contract and they would not change the code and the home has been repeatedly entered, had water damage since the contract and  has had a back door left unlock for the past month. No one knows who has been in the home or why and No matter how much we ask, we get more resistance to secure the home properly.  It seems that they want the home to be vandalized. It makes no sense.  Can you all help me with this?

You all seem like you actually care about real estate!
  • October 20 2012
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Absolutely not, as a REO listing agent it is my responsability to make sure the home is shown in the proper manner. Many REO's have no electricity, , thus no lights, which can be potentially dangerous.   
  • June 22 2011
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Profile picture for TheGoldFirm

What is the specific law or regulation (in California) being violated (by realtor giving combo to a client)? The only regulation found so far seems to say it's OK for the combo to be provided if the listing broker gives written permission to do so.
I understand all the liability issues, but on what basis is it ILLEGAL? OR against a regulation that a realtor is bound to follow?
Thanks

  • June 20 2011
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Combo Boxes are old technology and this would be my first question if I  was interviewing prospective listing agents: "What type of lock box will you put on my front door?"

With GE Supra Electronic Lock Boxes, not only does the agent need to electronically I.D. themselves to gain entry, the box also records how long they where inside the home in exact measurements of time. The listing agent receives this information.

Also, with this box the agents don't need to leave their business cards on the kitchen counter top, because their entry is recorded.

If an agent cannot afford to invest in this technology, and also doesn't care if their client's home security is jeopardized, they should be looking for another line of work.

Happy funding, Rudi  
  • January 22 2011
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It would be a serious violation for a Realtor  in my practice area of Ventura County, California, but the realtor's viloation aside, it is a very unwise action for you..
Do not go into vacant properties unaccompanied by an authorized person, and that person should  not only  be fully aware of the risks involved, but have written authority to enter.
Our professional associations (The National Association of Realtors, for me, The California Association of Realtors, and my local MLS group) sends warnings and trainings for us to be cautious when entering vacant and abandonded properties.  There are many thefts occurring in these homes throughout the country where wiring and other components are being stripped to be sold by pretty desperate people.  I would not want to walk in on that at all, especially alone!
Another concern I would have is your mention of a combination.  It is possible that the combination box belongs to the bank, not the realtor, and you may be entering a bank owned property without authorization in their eyes, therefore, you could possibly be considered a tresspasser.
  • January 21 2011
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It's not ok at all in my opinion, and I don't know of any Realtors in our area (Northern NH) who do this.  Looking at it from your angle, you really would be benefited by working with a Realtor who thinks it worth giving you the time & attention you deserve.

If you've looked at many homes and don't like them, you'll want your Realtor to understand why the homes don't work for you.  Accompanying you on showings is a prime way to do this.

Sometimes I'll be out on multiple showings and I'll realize my buyer is rejecting all the homes with small kitchens, even though a large kitchen was never brought up as important.  But now that I know it, we can talk about it and make sure the next properties are more to their liking.

  • January 21 2011
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Every Realtor on here obviously agrees that it is not only illegal but a serious risk. Unfortunately it is a common issue in areas with most of the inventory being distressed vacant homes. Sometimes even though it is convenient to see more properties it is definately worth scheduling appointments with a Realtor or a Team of Realtors to do what we get paid to do!

Good luck and thanks for brining up this question
  • January 17 2011
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It's a big NO.  I'm questioning how your agent represents you.
  • January 17 2011
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Your intuition on this is spot on.  This is not right.  This is unethical and unsafe for you the client, especially if these are vacant REOs.  
  • January 17 2011
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This is a good question and I have been asked many times by clients for the lock box combo.  As you have read in the other 40 something posts it is illegal, dangerous and un-ethical. 

Just keep in mind if you get a new agent, do them a favor and do not ask for the lock box code, you now know the reasons why! 
  • January 17 2011
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Never ever ever okay for many reasons! Most of which I'm sure have come to your mind or you wouldn't have asked the question.

Lazy is an understatement.  Wreckless and negligent?  Absolutely!
  • January 17 2011
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The agent should accompany you to the property and have the codes to get in.  It is never "ok" for the agent to give their clients the combo etc.  RE agent know this is illegal.  Hope this helps and good luck!!
  • January 17 2011
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ABSOLUTELY NOT!  Never, ever, ever.  It's illegal and your safety could be in question.

Find another agent.
  
  • January 17 2011
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It happens more often than Agents will admit but it is not really legal because the lockbox is there to protect the property and only a licensed realtor/agent has gone through the proper screening in order to be trusted with that information.

He/She can find herself in major trouble and lose their license if this is discovered. Also, as Nick stated, without proper representation, it's considered trespassing.
  • January 17 2011
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