Where Not to Place a Lockbox

Listing #41254685, now Temp Off Market (see item #2)

Listing #41254685, now Temp Off Market (see item #2)

Loyal blog reader Randy H. had a great question for us on social media, “Does ARMLS have rules on lockbox placement?” In short, we don’t dictate in our rules where a lockbox must be placed on a listing. We do, however, have some advice.

1. Supra iBox lockboxes are designed to be placed on door knobs.

2. Many cities and utility providers have ordinances or rules against attaching any item (including lockboxes) on gas, water and electric meters or lines. Placing a lockbox on a gas meter or other utility is a safety concern. There is also a possibility of damage to the property in doing so.

Overcoming difficult door knobs
Did you know the shackle can be completely detached in the field to accommodate unusual door knobs? Here’s how:

lb1

1. With the ActiveKey or eKey, release the shackle.

2. With the shackle released, start the shackle release  process a second time.

2. With the shackle released, start the shackle release process a second time.

3. When the shackle is being released the second time, apply upward pressure to remove the shackle entirely.

3. When the shackle is being released, apply upward pressure to remove the shackle entirely.

Comments

Archived Comments
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  1. Shar Rundio via Facebook

    Why did we get away from putting them on the door? I ruin more heels (and nearly break my neck) traipsing through the rocks and junglelike conditions sometimes.

    • Casually_Observant

      I no longer place them on the door for several reasons. First, they are heavy and awkward and I’ve seen multiple times where a few days after numerous agents have wrestled with a front door-hung lockbox, you’ll realize that it has caused the door knob to pull loose from the door! I’ve also seen them scuff, scratch or ding up the front door casing or area around the knob or lockset of a nice door if the design of the door handle causes the lockbox to hang slightly sideways, toward the door frame. Having just replaced a front door on a property I just remodeled, I can tell you that the cost to buy, paint/varnish, hang, handle and rekey a new front door is a LOT more expensive than you’d think. I do not want to be responsible for damage like this which could ruin a nice relationship with a Seller. Second, don’t forget when sometimes having them hang on the doorknob makes it impossible to open the door when the latch interferes with the handle. Third, they make it clear to strangers driving by that the house is accessible and may be a vacant property.

      And yes, I am a woman who wears expensive heels and dislike having to trek through gravel or whatever to find the lockbox. But, so what? That’s a hazard of the job! Bring a pair of slip-ons in your purse if that is an issue for you. I also walk around the whole back and front yard with my Buyers when I am showing and I get my shoes dirty there, too. Not a big deal for me. I just try to be careful when I’m doing it and it usually all works out fine.

  2. Lisa Friel Jasper via Facebook

    I have called about the same issue. This article could be expanded to include accessibility issues for agents with disabilities/special needs. Who really enjoys playing hide and go seek through desert landscaping for a lockbox only to find it in some ridiculous low lying place? For many it is an accommodation issue that is not being met, in fact it is being ignored as the problems continue to be brought up….I think the time for rules is long past due.

    • Casually_Observant

      I am sorry, but a person who has special needs or is in a wheelchair would not be (and perhaps should not expect to be) accessing these properties anyway, unless they are barrier-free. If you are unable to access a low-hanging lockbox, consider having your Buyers assist you or bring an assistant along with you who is able to, or maybe try to get in better shape yourself so that this is not an issue. This is really about what is reasonable, people. Life should not have to revolve around one person’s particular needs above the safety or reasonable needs of others.

  3. Lisa Friel Jasper via Facebook

    If agents won’t willingly stop being ignorant about the lockbox placement then maybe fines will help so that others can be accommodated. ADA?

  4. Sylvie Calder via Facebook

    I agree 100% with Lisa and Shar: it seems that too many agents are more concerned about “hiding” the lockbox than making it accessible! ….and in most of those cases, the lockbox could easily be placed at the door knob…!!!

  5. Todd J Smith via Facebook

    The truth is that most of the LB’s I encounter are not on the front door.

  6. Lynn McGrath Otlewski via Facebook

    I put them on the front door unless there is a lever handle which will not accomodate. To trapse through gravel and bushes to find a lockbox is ridiculous. High heels are ruined not to mention scorpion encounters and what about snakes under bushes. Let’s get realistic about this and place lockboxes on the door where they belong.

  7. Janice Lisy Anderson via Facebook

    I’m an agent that puts anywhere but door knob . The reason I do it is to protect my seller from an agent that drives up sees lb then just assumes they can show without calling. This has happened way to many times in my 30 yrs of RE so started making it a practice. Sellers feel better about this being hidden. Just another way of thinking about it

  8. Mike Dobbins via Facebook

    Once you get one cut off the front door or a hose bib and the appliances cleaned out, you will find new hiding places or the gas bib, most thieves won’t cut that off.

  9. Linda Lober Leebove via Facebook

    Try labeling the lockbox REALTORS..MUST CALL LISTER FOR APPT. PRIOR TO USING LOCKBOX! We have attached this to all our lockbox listings, occupied or vacant…to help prevent the agent who would even consider access without notification. Hunting forthe lockbox and/or finding them attached in a fashion that you have to be able to still do deep knee bends and move landscaping is getting old.

  10. Mike Dobbins via Facebook

    And does anyone have any proof of a gas bib blowing up using a lockbax?

  11. Lisa Friel Jasper via Facebook

    I believe this is an ADA issue which is much bigger and don’t care about a “feel good” for the sellers. Do they want to sell thier house or not? Maybe we just shouldn’t show homes that don’t have a properly placed lockbox because it’s not worth getting hurt especially in triple digits. Actually when I was new I remember my broker telling us burglars were damaging hosebibs regularly to break open the lockbox and to never place it anywhere but the front door. We need rules to be in compliance with existing laws of the land but sometimes that takes awhile just like the accommodation search criteria that now exists. I was happy to be a part of that committee and know the mls is changed for the better.

    • Casually_Observant

      If you are going to make this an ADA issue, are you going to require every house you list be barrier free? How is that going to work? And, how many disabled, wheelchair-bound people are REALTORS who show properties by themselves, unassisted? I bet little to none. I don’t mean to be callous, but the truth is, if you are unable to bend easily, or reach something at knee level, maybe you need to think about a different line of work. Or, bring an assistant or have your buyers help you.
      In my experience (29 years) if a hose bib is cut nowadays, it is to steal the copper from them, rather than the lockbox. And the truth is, trying to break a lockbox open is harder than breaking a window, which most thieves can and will do easily if they want access.

  12. Janice Lisy Anderson via Facebook

    Again its for the safety of my seller I don’t want them on the door knob. I don’t wear high heels anymore when showing a home and I’m always out in the landscaping to look all around the home. I hear you on the deep knee bends… so try and get it to a higher point. I also always put in remarks where the lockbox is. Another point on Lockboxes on the door knob is it has always been a problem with the weather stripping getting dinged up if the lockbox is off a bit with the seller/ seller kids / agents coming in an out. Again just another way of looking at it.

  13. Rich Andrew via Facebook

    listen agents! This was started many years ago when lockboxes damaged doors, or ruined door handles They are not light and will cause damage. If you want to take that chance it is up to you. But generally not a good idea.gas companies normally have rules against using the gas lines

  14. ARMLS via Facebook

    Great comments everyone. Don’t forget about CBS (Call Before Showing) codes – they prevent someone from showing without calling and getting a code first. Like Mike pointed out, there are pros/cons with any placement – there isn’t a prefect solution.

  15. Rich Andrew via Facebook

    addition comment…..if you leave a lockbox on the front door and the lock is broken, you could not only be liable repairing the lock but if the home was ramsacked or damaged inside, you could be liable for all damages also. Think twice about putting it on the door.

    • Kelly W. Maynard

      Wow, if we are held liable for every place we put a lock box, then maybe we better think twice about using them, period! I am held liable if I put the lock box on the door and the lock on the door is broken? If I put the lock box on the hose bib and the hose bib is broken, I am held liable? If the lock box is snipped off and broken into, I am held liable? Worse case scenario, the home is broken into because I put a lock box on the door knob, and now, I am held liable?

      Let’s just get out of this business altogether, since one cannot use a lock box the way it was designed to be used, for fear we will be sued.

      • Casually_Observant

        Yes, I believe you can be held liable, if it can be proven you did not exercise reasonable care and something you did caused damage. Why shouldn’t you be? You get paid a lot to do this work, and should do it in the best way possible. And really, you want to have happy, returning customers-for-life, don’t you? This is our lifeblood and our reputation, which is priceless. I explain to my Sellers the pros and cons of a lockbox and let them decide. Better to have everyone on board in the beginning so there are no/few surprises later.

        • Kelly W Maynard

          Hi Casually Observant,

          I am working on the premise that my
          clients want a lock box and that they are in agreement to the placement,
          having told me where they would like it placed. Now, if I were to
          place a lock box on the property, without my clients approval, and or
          placed it in a place they have not agreed to, then yes, of course I
          could be liable.

          It is funny, to me, that, yes, one could be an
          idiot Realtor and do idiotic things contrary to the listing agreement,
          but I thought the conversation we were having, is among Realtors that
          understand what a lock box is for, how it is to be used, and that do
          things according to the contract, Code of Ethics, etc. Is my assumption
          wrong?

          • Casually_Observant

            Hi Kelly,
            I am speaking to the situations I have seen when showing properties where the lockbox is clearly too heavy for the doorknob and continued use has caused the doorknob to pull out of the door, damaging the lockset and rendering it impossible to unlock. Or, the lockbox hangs sideways due to the style of the door handle, thus making it difficult to access and which also causes it to hit the side of the door jamb every time you open or close the door, damaging the paint and woodwork. If those listing agents had any experience or common sense, they would have noticed the issue immediately and found another place to hang it, thus preventing any actual damage. But, they did not and damage occurred. Most homeowners have no experience regarding this, but the agents should have. In those cases, the agent should be held responsible for poor judgment.

            On the other hand, if a lockbox is stolen from a listing and a robbery
            occurred, that would not be the agent’s fault in my opinion.

            As I said in my previous post, “if it can be proven you did not exercise
            reasonable care and something you did caused damage you should be held liable.”

  16. Darlene Montambeault Schmitt via Facebook

    Thanks for the tip on how to completely removing that shackle to accommodate unusual areas…I never knew you could completely remove it!

  17. Desert Peak Realty News via Facebook

    I am in agreement with not placing them on the front door. It can damage the door hardware and door itself. It screams “vacant house – come vandalize me or steal my AC unit!”. And far too many agents who see the LB and enter the home without referring first to showing instructions. I agree 100% with not hiding them under bushes or other inaccessible location – but if one can’t walk through gravel or down a sidewalk beside the home in high heels, they shouldn’t wear high heels to a showing. One needs to be able to accompany their clients as they go through the entire yard anyway. And about CBS codes – we use them on certain occasions – but there is a very large percentage of agents who have no idea how to use them – perhaps a blog about them is in order? JMHO – Chris Webb

  18. Sandy Goldsberry via Facebook

    It should be on the front door where it belongs! I hate having to climb through bushes and get scraped by thorns to get to a Lockbox. Also when they are put out in the sun it sometimes damages them and they will not open. Putting them on the water pipes they get wet and damaged. They need to be under protection and out of the sun if possible. This is a good article you posted. Hope people will take notice!

  19. Danielle Dus via Facebook

    I have sold homes that we just saw as we were just driving by and they were vacant. I think hiding them is not helpful to the seller or agent.

  20. Nancy Campbell via Facebook

    This morning, I just placed a lockbox on the H2O bib next to the door (not in bushes or side of home). The door is to be re-painted, so thought it to be the best spot for now! And when showing the homes, we make a game out of it, where is the lockbox?? Not fun when you can not find it!

  21. Randy Hooker via Facebook

    A rather fiery and sensitive subject! I would use the CBS Code system IF I felt most agents and appraisers knew how to use them. But it feels to me like common courtesy toward our fellow agents is what’s missing.

  22. Zeolith

    Total BS. Show me even one time when a lockbox has led to a gas explosion. Inaccurate misinformation. In fact, the only instances in real life where gas meters have exploded is from some traumatic event like a car smashing into them and breaking them off the pipes. What a silly post.

    • Pmealy

      I think it was ment to be silly. It is what the gas company will tell you.
      The message I read was the gas company has rules about lockboxes on the gas pipes.
      I want to warn people also the water pipe is not a good idea either when they steal the copper they steal the lockbox with it.

      • ARMLS Social Media Team

        Zeolith, Pmealy is right – the photo was intended as humor. Gas and water companies may cut off lockboxes from lines and some cities have ordinances against doing so.

        • Nori53

          Name the cities with these ordinances. If you are going to warn us with the “law,” then give us accurate information.

          • ARMLS Social Media Team

            Nori, that might be a good idea for a follow-up post. We might start a list and post.

  23. Janice Lisy Anderson via Facebook

    How many remember. The code KILO. KEY IN LISTING OFFICE Now that was a real pain running around all day picking up keys then returning them. Having a lockbox no matter where is a luxury to me. We have come a long way

    • Casually_Observant

      Yes! I agree! People are forgetting how it used to be. Lockboxes, wherever they are, are fantastic, I’ll crawl under a bush, I don’t care!

  24. James Moyer

    I love the photo of the explosion and the For Sale sign. True classic

  25. Chris Spalding via Facebook

    its that sinking feeling when you’ve just blown up another hard earned listing

  26. Chris Prickett

    I NEVER put my lockbox on the door. Unless you want to pay for the damage that occurs when another agent gets it caught between the door and the jamb, i suggest you don’t either. I usually place it on the hosebib closest to the door and note the location in the private comments section. There are no ordinances against that.

    • Kathy

      And how many times has that happened? We are supposed to be professional, adult responsible Realtors.

      • Chris Prickett

        I see it all the time. Come up to Anthem and I bet I can show you 20 without even trying.

        • Kathy

          Sorry Chris, but I still don’t buy your reasoning that this occurs all the time in Anthem? Didn’t you say the current ARMLS lockbox damaged the doorjamb as a reason you don’t place the lockbox where it was designed to be installed? Or are you not using the ARMLS boxes? The door would have to slammed pretty hard to do damage to a doorjamb from an ARMLS lockbox, and, in my opinion, that would be the Realtor accessing the lockbox in a very unprofessional, careless way, who should then be responsible for the repair cost.

          _____

          • Chris Prickett

            Most doors in Anthem do not have knobs, but handles. When the agent pulls the door shut, the lockbox swings and catches between the door and jamb. Short of having someone on each side of the door, it’s almost unavoidable. You don’t have to buy my reasoning, but that’s the way it is.

          • Kathy

            Oh for crying out loud! Key words “almost unavoidable”. This ought to be brought to ARMLS attention so they can issue instructions with the lockbox on how Realtors should close a door with an ARMLS lockbox on a door handle!

            As a female Realtor, I don’t appreciate having to do a search for the lockbox in landscaping, fending off tree branches, plant spikes/thorns, spider webs and muddy soil, ruining expensive shoes and clothing, when there are much safer, more professional options to install a lockbox. like on a door! Very inconsiderate!!!

            _____

          • ARMLS Social Media Team

            Chris and Kathy, great conversation – if there is one thing we learned from writing this post, it is that there isn’t a clear winner on the subject.

    • Jennifer Mraz

      Agreed!

      • Tom Tillman

        Yes, they do swing out sometimes and get caught in the doorjamb. i wouldn’t say it’s nearly unavoidable, but it does happen if someone closes the door too quickly. if there is any good place BUT the door, that’s where it goes.

  27. CarmenBrodeur

    I would like to see rules against putting lock boxes behind bushes and cactus! I am sick and tired of listing agents putting the lock boxes in dumb places like that. Last week I called an agent and gave him a piece of my mind. He had it completely behind a bush. I happened to be wearing jeans that day so I crawled behind the bush to get it. I told him if I was wearing a skirt I would have skipped the house entirely because there was no way anyone in dress clothes could get to the box. Totally stupid.

    • Kathy

      Amen! The lock box should be placed on the door handle unless the handle is a lever type. There were times when sprinklers or bubblers were on and it was a muddy mess.

  28. Kelly W. Maynard

    I agree with Carmen, and the others, about having to play “Find the Lock Box” game at each home you show. Many times there are multiple ARMLS Lock Boxes. Hm, which one do I use? I can tell you I do not relish having to play the game and then finally find the lock box hidden, as Carmen said, behind a big stickery bush, on a little snub of some pipe, right next to the ground, laying in water. I always like exposing my back side to my Buyer clients.

  29. Casually_Observant

    Kathy, Chris’s experience matches mine. I have seen this many times all over the Valley. My problem door handles are the small, round door knobs that are positioned just slightly closer to the doorframe than ideal, causing the lockbox to smack the door frame every time the door is opened or closed. But the worst ones are the handle designs that won’t allow the lockbox to hang straight down, but instead sit canted sideways causing the lockbox to hit the door frame every time you open and close the door, causing damage, loosening the doorknob from the door sometimes and making it a pain to access the house. It is really maddening!
    Having worked in New Home sales early in my career, I can tell you that in a new subdivision, the builder will use the same style door and doorknob throughout. Anthem is a community of many subdivisions rather than custom homes, which would explain why Chris may be seeing it all over (same builder, same doorknob design!)
    I personally do not hang them on the front door anymore for this reason and I am a woman and understand the heels in the gravel issue, but feel that protecting the safety of the home, and protecting the front door and door handle (not to mention my relationship to the Seller) trumps convenience.

    • Kathy

      Are we still talking about lockbox placement? Lockboxes are designed to be placed on the door knob! Unless it is a lever-type handle that is where it should be installed! Maybe there needs to be additional instructions on how to close a door with a lockbox installed, ala “with one hand on the doorknob, carefully move the attached lockbox away from the door jamb, carefully close the door…”. Do you really think Realtors are that stupid? Sort of insulting! As to some comments the lockbox on a door is an invitation to thieves… Is there a Realtor sign in the yard? Hmmm…. Cover the doorknob- installed lockbox with one of those doorhanger ads. A big thumbs up to the Broker that insists lock boxes be installed where they were designed to be placed, on the front door!!!

      Sent from my iPad

      • Kelly W Maynard

        Hi Kathy,

        I so agree! And the whole thing about how we as Realtors can be held liable to use a lock box the way it is intended to be used, with the agreement of our client, as to it’s use and placement, is beyond me!

      • Kelly W Maynard

        I am laughing, as I agree with you totally!

        Apparently, and this is new to me, but, as Realtors, we can be held liable for properly using a lock box. Even though we have, in writing, our clients approval of a lock box being installed on the property, and working on the premiss that they have agreed to it’s placement, can be held accountable for any damage to the homeowner’s property. Are you aware of this? I wonder how many suits have been brought against Realtors for proper use of a lock box? Or, maybe we are dealing with idiot Realtors that have no idea of how to do things properly, and this whole conversation is for the sake of them!

      • Casually_Observant

        Excuse me, but I am a REALTOR if you didn’t figure that out, and I am not trying to insult you. I’ve been doing this for 29 years and happen to have seen certain instances of “dumbness” or lazy behavior from my fellow agents. For instance, I recently had a beautiful remodeled vacant listing that was robbed. The robber was interrupted by an agent walking in to show the place. This agent didn’t think to notify me when she walked in to see that the kitchen appliances were pulled out from the wall and trash all over the place and the window ajar! Luckily, after she left my neighbor called police when he saw 2 men driving out of the garage with the appliances in the back of the truck! (They had hid in the garage while she showed and finished the job after she left!) When I called her to see whether she noticed anything wrong when she viewed the property, she said No. After discussing it with her further she said she just thought the appliances being pulled out from the wall meant I was having them repaired, even though the listing photos showed a fully finished remodel with brand new appliances listed! She did not even notice the window pulled away from its frame or that all the bathroom fixtures had been stripped.
        Regarding lockboxes being designed to hang on a door, yes, they are designed to fit most doors. But, they do not fit all doors. And, they can also be hung from any secure location i.e., a wrought iron fence rail, a hose bib, a water pipe, a metal fence post, etc. I am just saying we all need to use common sense with safety for ourselves and our clients paramount.

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