Are Realtor Lockboxes Secure?

Realtor lockboxes are a staple in the real estate industry. These coded boxes give agents, photographers, inspectors, appraisers, and others access to a home’s keys by typing in a few numbers. But are Realtor lockboxes safe? Let’s take a look at the security provided by Realtor lockboxes and some exciting, recent developments that make them even more secure.

Traditional Realtor lockboxes

Realtor lockboxes are traditionally a box locked to a doorknob, railing or other home fixture. Inside that lockbox is the key to your front door.  Some lockboxes have keypads, others can only be opened using an external device that agents are assigned to remotely open the lockbox by punching in the code in the external device and holding it next to the lockbox. If you type in the correct combination, or use the agent assigned device, the faceplate opens exposing keys to the home inside. Keyboxes are necessary for giving the buyer’s agent and buyer access to the house for a scheduled showing.

The benefits of this method to access a home are clear. Agents can quickly gain access to a home for showings while keeping the home secure from everyone else. While open houses are great, they come with their own host of challenges. When a buyer can walk around the home without the pressure of other potential buyers perusing at the same time, they can better picture themselves in the home and could be more likely to make an offer.

The problem with this method of giving access to a property is security. What if the code gets into the wrong hands? What if someone comes in and steals something? What if someone comes in when the sellers are home and not expecting visitors? There are many potential issues with traditional lockboxes.

A mixed history of break ins and trouble

Sister site Really Rotten Realty offers several examples of stories where Realtor lockboxes were used for bad. In one story a son used the lockbox to rob his mother’s home. In another, squatters gained access to a vacant home and vandalized the property. In another, an Arkansas agent stole the lockboxes from the homes all together!

More recently, thieves in Seattle stole lockboxes to gain access to a condo building, including garage storage units. While in most cases lockboxes are just fine, there are plenty of stories to make you worry. In this video, you can see how to pick a cheap lockbox in under two minutes.

If you are working with an agent to sell a home, make sure to secure the home as well as possible. Consider removing expensive valuables, cash, jewelry, prescription medications, and other highly targeted items.

Modern Realtor lockboxes offer enhanced features and security

Thieves in Glendale, Arizona recently broke open a contractor’s lockbox and stole furniture from a staged home. While no family lost its possessions, it highlights a problem with many lockboxes. The news story shows that the inexpensive, $30 lockbox could be broken into in about 30 seconds by an experienced thief. Clearly lockboxes are a weak point in real estate security.

But this doesn’t have to be the case. There are higher end lockboxes, including newer digital lockboxes that offers advanced features to give access during specific timeframes. Here’s a look at a few options for improved security.

Digital lockboxes – Some new digital lockboxes offer the ability to create multiple codes. You can use an app to create unique codes for each agent, and can sometimes add time parameters so codes automatically expire.

Smart locks with controlled access – If you are willing to upgrade the physical property, you can add a smart lock that connects to an app for a similar feature set explained above. However, in this case no lockbox is needed at all. You can offer access to exactly who you want and when you want from your phone.

Don’t fear the lockbox

Some lockboxes are incredibly secure. For example, the Supra lockbox is both crowbar proof and bullet proof. This digital lockbox is app controlled and logs every entry, offering the best peace of mind.

Lockboxes are an important tool in real estate, and they should not be feared. Instead, Realtors should just take the simple steps to invest in the most secure lockboxes for their clients. With the best, most secure Realtor lockbox in place, agents and sellers can rest easy.

If you are buying or selling a house and are looking to hire a successful real estate agent to help you through the process, take a look at AgentHarvest's list of top-ranking local Realtors in your area. We found these agents by examining their sales track records, awards, rankings, client testimonials and by conducting personal interviews.