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 (85)

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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Wow... Not only is the Agent Lazy, but if they were in Washington they would possibly lose their license and be fined Thousands of $$$ for a clear MLS violation.

You should NEVER be on a listed property without representation since it's technically trespassing. A listed property's Owner has entered into a contract with the Broker who agrees to allow access to other Brokers/Agents. It has become an unfortunate trend where people seem to be under the false impression that if it's "For Sale" they can walk the property without permission.
  • January 17 2011
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This is not normal AND it's not safe.  Especially on vacant properties.

I have, more than once, heard someone heading out the back door as I came in the front.

I ALWAYS ENTER FIRST, especially when showing a family with children.  I can get out of there, not so much when the wife and child are blocking the doorway and we ALL have to get out.

Besides safety, I'm quite sure if this was discovered by the listing agent, your agent AND their broker would be hauled before the local board. And yes, trouble would ensue.

Good question and thanks for bring it up here.  It serves as a great reminder of the responsibility we have.
  • January 16 2011
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Not a good idea at all - any number of liability issues can come up. Hopefully you can narrow things down by driving by or zeroing in on an area you  like and then make arrangements to have your agent get you in the door.

Happy hunting...
  • January 14 2011
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Because of the huge inventory of foreclosures and short sales the practice of giving out the combination codes in order for prospective buyers to enter homes has gotten out of hand.  This should never be done because of liability issues on every level. Find a realtor that will go with you. 
  • January 14 2011
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I'm pretty sure Jenn gets the idea. 

Time to leave this person in peace folks.

By the way, Mike Emery was correct when he said that REO's often use the combo lockboxes so that various contractors, cleaning crews (and apparently unwittingly, sometimes poor unsuspecting buyers who believe their agent when the stupid agent says its okay) can get in.
  • January 14 2011
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NOT EVER does a realtor give a client lockbox codes, no exception.
  • January 14 2011
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That is not appropriate, nor is it safe.  As an REO Broker, many times I have had the experience of having intruders staying in vacant properties.  I would not send a client into that possible situation.  It also puts the seller's property at risk.  It is against MLS association rules to give clients keys or lockbox codes.  I would find another agent who is willing to meet me at the properties and do a more professional job.  If you were selling your home would you use this agent?  Now's the time to find another agent. 
  • January 13 2011
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Profile picture for connieinmon
Never, no matter what the circumstances!
  • January 13 2011
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Profile picture for Christy Klingler
No!  That is absolutely not okay.  The rules don't change for an unoccupied home regardless if it is a traditional sale or bank owned home.  If she won't take the time to show you a house and is willing to violate her own rules, I don't suppose she is going to go out of her way to protect your interests by adhering to timeframes, etc.  I'd shop for a new agent before you shop for anymore houses :)
  • January 13 2011
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Profile picture for Mark LeMenager
You need a new agent.
  • January 13 2011
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Your agent should definitely not be giving you codes to tour properties on your own.  And...without the agent present...it's almost like trespassing.  I would be willing to bet that the listing agents of those unoccupied homes have no idea that this agent is doing this. 

I would say it's a sad day when the client has toured more homes than the agent.  Then, what happens if you were to want to make an offer?  Would the agent go see the property then?
  • January 13 2011
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what kind of cheap skate listing agents don't invest the $60 or so in a proper lockbox? ie one that needs the agent key to open?

and NO it is not proper to give the code to clients.
  • January 13 2011
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Let's not forget the potential trouble that could mean for YOU if you've been wandering around someone's house without an agent and without the owner's knowledge/consent. What if something goes missing (who knows how many other people have been given the code). Even if the house is empty, stealing copper pipes and wiring is increasingly popular. Or, what if a vigilant neighbor sees you in the house and calls the cops (or confronts you with a gun...)? Good luck convincing the police not to arrest you for burglary. (It would hopefully get cleared up but you still might spend some time in the county jail...)

Bad news all around on this one...
  • January 13 2011
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The agent could be facing a serious liability issue here...and also putting the listing agent at risk of liability.  Note: the attorney for the Connecticut Association of Realtors recommended that listing agents who use combo lockboxes should change the combination after every showing in order to avoid facing liability should the property be vandalized or compromised in any way resulting from lockbox access.
  • January 13 2011
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NO!
  • January 13 2011
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Jenn,

NO!!!in MIchigan it is a $1000 fine.and rightfully so !


Vera
  • January 12 2011
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Licensed Agents cannot allow anyone to enter a house for sale without accompanying their client.  In addition, you may be in danger of someone who is unauthorized in the home especially if you think it is vacant.  I once went into a vacant home and there was someone sleeping in a back room in a sleeping bag.  I think it was a homeless person and it was very scary.  Don't go on your own without a real estate agent into an empty house.  Your agent is liable for anything that might happen.  If she is a "realtor", there is a code of ethics we abide by and I think that is totally again her local MLS rules. 
  • January 12 2011
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Profile picture for SoCal Engr
Forget "normal". If the REA is so lazy/inconsiderate/stupid to hand out lockbox codes, do you really think you can trust them with the rest of the transaction? What other shortcuts is this REA going to pull out of their a**?
  • January 12 2011
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Your agent should accompany you to each property for liability and ethical purposes.
  • January 12 2011
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The quick answer is..  No.  Like you mentioned.. you could be anyone.. you could pull up to the home with a U-Haul and clean it out...and that agent would be liable. 

It is kind of lazy.  I like to show all of my investors homes because I used to be a high volume investor (15 to 20 homes per month for 10 years!)  And I can usually give some really great advice on a per home basis...  tell them which ones have good earning potentials.. and which ones are best to pass on. 

In a perfect world.. that saves your agent time and gas money... but it is not ethical. 
  • January 12 2011
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Profile picture for droopyd
We had our agent give us the lock box code once when he had a last-minute emergency and couldn't make our scheduled showing, and he had the OK of the listing agent to do so. 
  • January 12 2011
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Profile picture for Blue Nile
Lots of people saying the same thing, but only 5 positive "votes", and no "best answer" yet.  (But the original poster did state she was satisfied with the answers...)

Perhaps the agent thinks the potential buyer is an authorized representative of the agent and works for the agent and is paid by the agent?

For information on the GE Supra iBox and related access keys, see:
GE Security Supra eKey Brochures & Data sheets
  • January 12 2011
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Real Estate Agents are never supposed to give out lock box codes.  Your agent should always meet you at the property to show it.  That is part of what we are paid to do. 
  • January 12 2011
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Profile picture for jenn10302001
I don't think she normally sells foreclosures and I don't think she really wants to either. I think that's why she has been doing this. This is the second offer I have put on a house so I hope she knows I'm a serious buyer.

Thank you all for your advice. I know if nothing else that I won't be going alone anymore!
  • January 12 2011
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