Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Lockbox Conundrum

In the post that I wrote on 11/27/07, I made brief mention of the location of a lockbox. This is one of those pet peeve things of mine that I seem to have so many of. I'm not sure why these things bother me so much, but they do. Maybe it's just common sense type things that just drive me crazy.

Typically the lockbox is in one of a couple different locations. The first and most obvious is the front door. Seems easy enough, right? Before entering the house I activate my lockbox key, obtain the key from the lockbox and open the door. This is the most convenient location for us lazy Realtors®. I hardly even have to move one step to complete the whole process. However, there are some reasons that this might not be the best location for the homeowner. So as an alternative location, many Realtors® choose to install the lockbox on a hose bib somewhere close to the front door, or even on the gas meter (if serviced with natural gas) that is typically on the side of the house somewhere. The key here - pardon the pun - is that it's easily accessible.  Many times considerate Realtors® will even let you know in the MLS listing where the lockbox is located if it's not on the front door…go figure!! But that's not what I found last weekend on more than one house.

The lockbox conundrum started with the very first house that we visited. We trekked through the mesquite tree to the front door, to find no lockbox. So I then trekked back out through the giant mesquite tree to take a look at the side of the house on the gas meter, only to find another completely overgrown bush that totally blocked my access to the lockbox. So I had to walk into the front yard of the next door neighbor's house and then still had to squat down and waddle my way under and through this bush to just barely be able to reach the lockbox. I eventually got the key out, and waddled my way back out of the "jungle" to have to brush the leaves and branches off of myself before entering the house. Little did I know at that time, that a few leaves and branches might have improved the condition of the house. We spent about 30 seconds in this house before we ran out, only to have to navigate my way through the neighbor's front yard and dig through the bushes to put the key back in the lockbox. That was loads of fun. Great way to start a day!!

The second lockbox conundrum was at another lender owned house that was in similar condition to the first house. It was far too convenient to put the lockbox on the front door, so the listing agent decided to hide it behind a bush as well. I was beginning to wonder if the agents were trying to make it difficult on me.

There are a couple of reasons that you might not want the lockbox on the front door. None of them apply to these situations, however, which is why I was a little aggravated with the lockbox locations on these homes. First, if a lockbox remains on a door that is opened and closed rather often for an extended period of time, it can sometimes ding up the door and the door handle. This is especially important when you're dealing with higher end homes with ornate or decorative front doors. Secondly, it may be beneficial not to put the lockbox in plain site on the front door for safety reasons. It's highly unlikely that somebody would be able to get a key out of a lockbox, but why advertise if you don't have to. I had a client this year who wanted to sell her condo. She was a young woman who lived alone. We decided that we would install the lockbox on the hose bib so that it wasn't blatantly obvious that her home was for sale and there was a key hanging outside. It was a security issue for her, more than anything. Well, neither of these were issues for the homes that we looked at. They were vacant, and in a condition that wouldn't be affected by a lockbox hanging on the front door. I'm not sure why these Realtors® decided that they needed to make my life more difficult by putting the lockboxes in top secret locations.

-Steve Nicks

[tags] Hidden Lockboxes, Phoenix Real Estate [/tags]