Which is Better — Lockboxes or Appointments?

Which is better when selling a home — lockboxes or appointments? This is an article written by Elizabeth for another publication. It is a situation that hasn’t changed from a decade ago. Today, there are new companies like “Open Door” which do not use lockboxes at all, but that is another blog altogether. Enjoy…

— JaCi Wallace

Should a seller require an appointment or will a lockbox inspire more showings? Some sellers are uneasy about giving agents and their buyers access to a home when the sellers are not at home. However, unless a seller is at home during the day, without a lockbox, showings might not happen at all.

Homes where access is restricted or require appointments in advance often fall to the bottom of the showing list, especially in buyer’s markets when inventory is abundant. If your market has an oversupply of homes for sale, you might want to consider using a lockbox.

In some parts of the country, though, it is customary for listing agents to be present at all showings, and some agents never use a lockbox. But if security is an issue, modern lockboxes record who comes and who goes from a home. Moreover, it’s often a good idea to put a lockbox out of sight, on a gas pipe or on a back gate.

Read more about Appointments vs. Lockboxes.

We suggest you use a Supra lockbox on your home if you want to sell your home quickly and for top dollar. If you want to sell a home or purchase a home, please call Weintraub & Wallace Realtors with RE/MAX Gold. We can be reached at 916-233-6759.

— Elizabeth Weintraub

Elizabeth Weintraub
Weintraub & Wallace

The Problem With Trusting Other Sacramento Agents

trusting other sacramento agentsThere is a new Real Safe Realtor safety app coming to Metrolist that relies on trusting other Sacramento agents to help a fellow agent in distress. It’s based on a cooperative spirit and the fact that agents should rely on each other to help out. I’m not so sure how well that will go over in Sacramento. My experience has been limited in that regard. I recall when I first started at Lyon Real Estate and I thought I had lost my display key. Patti Martinez, who used to work in our downtown office back then, came to my rescue. She had something else to do the day but she drove over to the house where I thought I had left my key and unlocked the door for me. That was a nice thing to do. A selfless act. I was grateful. Enough so that I’m still talking about it. I would do the same thing for another agent.

But not every agent is like that. Like last Wednesday was a comedy of errors. I had put a home in Sacramento on broker preview for only Lyon real estate agents to tour. Lyon policy is to put homes on tour as a favor for Lyon agents before the homes are officially for sale. It’s convenient for Lyon agents. They get a sneak peek at homes with lockboxes and those without. The nice thing about the Supra lockbox is it does not rely on trusting other Sacramento agents because Supra sends me lockbox reports when it is opened. I know who opened the lockbox, the time the lockbox was accessed and how to contact the agent.

On that day, 3 agents from a Lyon Real Estate office accessed the lockbox. I won’t say which office these agents were from but let’s just say it wasn’t the downtown office on J Street where I work or the Land Park office on 21st. The first agent sent me an email to say how much she liked the new listing, so I know she got in to see it. The key is a little tricky to use. I put a note in the lockbox and in MLS about how to open the door. It’s one of those doors that needs to have the key pulled out slightly to turn it. But real estate agents are used to working with quirky keys. It’s part of our profession.

Around 4:00 that afternoon, the seller called. She had stopped by the property to discover an agent had left the key dangling in the lock. Further, the agent also had locked the bottom of the box box, a basket that holds the key, back into the lockbox. This meant the seller could not pull it out and put the key into the lockbox. Who would leave a key in the door? What kind of real estate agent would do that? Hmmm. I studied the Supra showings records. Only 3 Lyon agents. Well, it wasn’t the first agent. I called the last agent. She insisted the door was open when she got there, and she could not make the key work, so she put the key back into the lockbox.

How could she do that if she was the last agent and the key was in the lock? I called the agent in the middle. This agent said she could not get into the property at all. She could not make the key work. She was very frustrated and wasn’t really listening to my own dilemma, which was who left the key in the lock? She insisted the key did not work, even when I explained several times it does work. You would think an agent who had trouble with a key would call the listing agent, right? I mentioned that not a single Lyon agent from that office bothered to call me. Finally she spit out have a nice evening and hung up.

So you can see why I’m not too gung ho on trusting other Sacramento agents to bail me out if I’m worried for my safety at a house with that new Metrolist Safety App. I wonder if encouraging member agents to download this free app reduces the insurance premium for Metrolist? It costs $15 a month otherwise. I can’t figure out why our MLS would offer this as a free service because I’ve never known Metrolist to do anything that doesn’t benefit Metrolist in some way.

But at least I know enough to remove a key from the lock and not leave a home unsecured. The culprit who stuck the key in the lock and walked away should be ashamed; but down deep we all figure they are not.

Lockboxes, Taxes, Lawyers, and Sacramento Realtors at Ella Dining

ella dining room and bar sacramentoEfficiency in real estate means spending the limited amount of time available in any given day in a productive manner, with the goal in mind that those efforts will benefit all of those involved. I’m just the kind of Sacramento Realtor who tries to be as efficient as possible. It could mean I spend 3 hours at a lunch at Ella Dining downtown catching up with another Realtor, an old friend and, when she is late, texting her explicit directions about where to meet the Valet and which one-way street to use as an approach.

This is one of the reasons I love going to Ella Dining for lunch. Yeah, drawback, it is downtown Sacramento, land of the one-way streets with the Capitol smack dab in the middle cutting off access to many east-west streets, but I don’t rely on Siri to get me there because, believe it or not, Siri doesn’t know where to find Valet. Apart from the food, which is spectacular, and the ambiance, which is captivating, and the service, which is unprecedented, I don’t have to figure out where to park, nor spend time driving in circles searching for a darn parking spot. I can run late, zoom up to Valet, hand over the keys and be done with it.

A 3-hour lunch gives the Valet plenty of time to make copies of all of my house keys, run over to my house and burglarize it, snatch all of the quarters from my parking meter tray, and be back in time to deliver the vehicle after dessert. I don’t care; life is short and then you die. Enjoy the time you have.

After driving to Vineyard to pick up a lockbox, I pulled up yesterday with one minute to spare to meet my reservation time at Ella Dining. My Vineyard clients seemed very happy after closing and said they received the absolute highest price possible for their home. Their escrow was smooth without hiccups. They had selected me in the first place among a plethora of Sacramento Realtors and they also are fans of my articles on About.com. There are no better sellers to work with in the world than sellers who intentionally weed through the inventory of agents in Sacramento and carefully and thoughtfully choose a listing agent. Many of those types of sellers are lawyers, too, and I love them to pieces, love working with lawyers. My favorite kind of client is a lawyer.

Since I was out in Vineyard to pick up a lockbox, it seemed best to use that time of travel to stop by my CPA’s home office, which is also in Vineyard, and deliver our tax folder in person. It beats photocopying all of the documents, finding a large envelope, weighing the contents, calculating postage and taking it to the post office. My CPA is one big joker. When he’s not tweaking digits, he’s joking around. His answer to almost every question is a one-liner, bada bing. I couldn’t help but wonder how my clients would view me if I acted like that. Good thing I don’t.


What Supra / MetroList iBoxes Won’t Tell You Until It’s Too Late

How to remove a defective MetroList iBox in Sacramento, made by Supra.

How to remove a defective MetroList iBox in Sacramento, made by Supra.

If it wasn’t bad enough that real estate agents were royally screwed last year during the famous two-for-one Supra iBox exchange — which means exactly what you think, trade in two lockboxes and get one in return — now those brand new, fancy schmancy bluetooth iBoxes are failing to function, what we call a malfunction; and the icing on top is it’s a malfunction without resolution. It’s a case of bend over and drop the soap because here in MetroList prison, they want to drive home the point hard and fast once again.

Sure, MetroList finally backed down and agreed that agents were NOT required to exchange MetroList lockboxes and we could continue to use our old infrared lockboxes. Except, many of the buyer’s agents in the field do not realize that many Sacramento listing agents did not switch to the new iBoxes. If an agent is a top producer, for example, she is not trading in dozens of perfectly good lockboxes with 75% of power remaining in the battery. Not unless she is a knucklehead. This means if a buyer’s agent trots out the door with just a Bluetooth cellphone App on his iPhone, he’s not opening many of the lockboxes in use throughout Sacramento, because those infrared lockboxes require a FOB along with the cellphone App.

No FOB, no openy lockbox.

It’s that simple. I would not say, though, that this is the #MetroListMess that is happening, although it could be. Because I know agents and many of us don’t have time to understand all of the intricacies involved with new technology, we just expect it to work. Tip #1, bring your FOB, people.

The more important issues are why do the Bluetooth Supra-manufactured iBoxes malfunction and why doesn’t MetroList have a solution? We had four Sacramento real estate agents attempt to open a MetroList iBox a couple of days ago. Two of them used a cellphone app with a FOB and two agents tried using the display key. The results showed up on the SUPRA website as an attempt to open the box, but the box refused to release the key much less the shackle. In talking with other agents, I am not alone.

Warning: Not every iBox will open nowadays.

Try calling Supra today. You will be placed on hold for 30 minutes and advised to call back After Hours, presumably when they are closed. Why is that? Why are so many agents calling Supra today? I wonder if it is related to the #MetroListMess. Dunno. After I finally connected, I was advised to contact member services at the Sacramento Association of REALTORS. Wait until you hear the member service advice.

First, they make it clear they do not trust their own members by stating we must pay them a $100 refundable deposit to rent a bolt cutters. They want to make sure they get the bolt cutters back. As further proof that they do not trust us, they ask that we give them, which we have already given them, our prized possession, the reference number from Supra. With trusty bolt cutters in the hands of a person like me, for example, who just had rotator cuff surgery and is still a recovering patient, I am required to then drive back to the property where the bad lockbox resides, cut it off with the bolt cutters, which is not as easy as it sounds, and then drive to MetroList to exchange the bad lockbox for another iBox, which could be just like the last one, defective.

I wrote to SAR and offered to give them $100 to forget that I once had this leased lockbox in my possession. Because you know, in the tradition of bend over and drop the soap, MetroList will probably find a way to make Sacramento REALTORS pay for the defective product they leased to us and seem to now take zero responsibility for, especially when we don’t return it at the end of the lease because it’s still attached to a home, in dead status. Except I failed miserably to make SAR understand that I was trying to give it cash to free me from MetroList prison. Just take the money and write off the loss of this lockbox, I pleaded.

SAR responded: “The $100.00 you would give us would be a deposit for you to check out the bolt cutters from us. That covers our cost of the bolt cutters in the event you don’t return them to us. It has nothing to do with MetroList being able to forget about the your lockbox.”

I explained again that I want to give them $100 to make this go away, but it still wasn’t sinking in. SAR wrote back: “The $100 I’m referencing is only to rent our bolt cutters.”

Words, just words on a page. Floating away into space.

What about the poor seller who has the defective lockbox on her railing, and the buyer who will have to deal with it after escrow closes? I asked SAR what happens to the lockbox, and who will cut it off since it’s not me and apparently it’s not SAR. The fellow working in member services at SAR responded: “If you are not cutting off the lockbox, then it’s not being cut off.”

I called SUPRA back, even though I did not want to sit on hold for another 30 minutes while SUPRA deals with all of the other iBox issues it must be facing, but I wanted to find out first-hand how to remove the lockbox. I felt I owed it to the seller since I was receiving little assistance from SAR, and MetroList wasn’t responding either to the email I cc’d. I asked SUPRA how can they expect a little old lady, especially one who is recovering from rotator cuff surgery, to use a bolt cutters?

Where can I buy a pair of overalls and work boots? I did not realize that trade attire was required to be a member of MetroList. I’ve never worked in the trades before. I’m just a Sacramento REALTOR, for crying out loud. I did not see this clause in the fine print of our MetroList lockbox lease agreement.

SUPRA said, and I kid you not, you can’t make up this stuff: “You should find a big burly gorilla of a guy” to go over to the home in Land Park and cut off the lockbox. My jaw dropped. Is this 1970? I ask: How Is This Still a Thing, John Oliver?

Tip #2: If you have a fully functioning infrared lockbox, you should probably use it.

Tip #3: Don’t put a MetroList iBox on a listing, say, in Lincoln, when you live in Land Park.

Tip #4: If you are a hoodlum looking for a way to swipe lockboxes, you still can’t get the key out even after you cut off the lockbox. But give me a jingle because this Sacramento REALTOR could use your services.

FOLLOWUP 3/1/15: MetroList, bless their hearts, has come to my rescue and will deal with the lockbox on the home in Land Park and has directed SAR to give me a replacement!

How to be Creative When Your Technology Fails to Work

Computer Technology.300x200There is really only one given that is absolutely true about modern technology and that is when it stops working — and it will stop working at some point or it is not modern technology — how do you get through the misery? And don’t start in about the starving kids in China or the refugee immigrants without cellphones; I know all about the raving lunatics 30,000 feet in the air who explode because they can’t get an internet connection 100% of the time. Stuff is meant not to work now and then. If it worked all of the time, you would call that magic.

It’s not what happens to you or how frustrating it seems when technology breaks, it’s how you deal with it. I know how a Sacramento REALTOR, for example, might feel about her brand new, fancy-schmancy iBox with bluetooth going on the blink. The thought could cross her mind that she is saddled with a piece of crap, not to mention a leased piece of crap, but she probably should not verbalize those words to the people who worked so incredibly hard to bring this piece of new technology to MetroList subscribers. Sometimes, Bluetooth technology does not work.

One has a choice in these situations. Unfortunately, one of those choices is now attached to a railing of a home in Land Park where it could possibly remain until hell freezes over, but on the other side of the coin, there is a point where one should find an alternative. One can stand there entering a code into her display key over and over, and get the same result (defined as insanity), which is the iBox is not reading the display key. It doesn’t read Bluetooth from a cellphone, either. One could leave all of those boxes in her car and just use her old lockboxes, her reliable infrared lockboxes and, in fact, such a lockbox is now nestled next to the big honkin’ fancy-schmancy iBox.

We also have to make decisions when, say, our Internet service goes wonky. Surewest is now something else, some alphabet letters, and it wasn’t working correctly this morning. I needed to turn my iPad into a hotspot and connect it to my laptop to write this blog. But it’s an alternative I have and when I need it, I absolutely need it. Plan B, can’t beat it.

I could be moaning and groaning and yelling at my ISP, but that is a self defeatist attitude. It irritates those who talk to me, and it can completely ruin my day, so I don’t do it. I just get on with my work. Well, I did call my ISP and put in a ticket request, and I did ask my Board to pick up the lifeless iBox but if none of that happens, life continues.

You agents, give some thought to how you might use those new fancy-schmancy iBoxes. You might not want to put one on a listing that is miles away from your immediate vicinity.

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