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Sharing Lock Box Codes with Clients? Think Again!

The metallic jangle of keys is one of the most eagerly anticipated sounds associated with a real estate purchase.

Your eager buyer is likely dreaming of the day they finally get to feel the slight weight of those bits of cold steel in their hand, the culmination of weeks of showings, legal procedures, fees, and mountains of paperwork.


Unfortunately, an agent's actions can swiftly turn that crisp clink into the sound made as a pair of handcuffs are tightened, hanging heavily from a prospective buyer's wrist. Innumerable pages of paperwork now take the form of court records, and the fees once designated for closing are now distributed to pay for the services of a lawyer in order to avoid a conviction and criminal record for trespassing. How did we get here?


What’s the harm?

In your career, you’ve doubtless had times when traffic or a previous engagement has delayed your arrival to a scheduled showing. With your buyer impatiently waiting in the driveway and texting you for updates on your arrival, it can be tempting indeed to simply share the keypad code for the house. After all, you’re just a couple of intersections away and you’re just waiting for a green light, what could go wrong?


As users in the r/RealEstate subreddit can attest, plenty. In the post “Seller is threatening us with trespassing even though the realtor let us in”, user u/yebinly describes how their agent was running late and provided them with the keypad code to enter the property without an agent present. After walking into the home, u/yebinly was shocked to find the house in a much different state from their first visit. Given that “Cabinets were broken and the house just wasn’t in shape.”, the user decided to rescind their offer and canceled the signing.

Blackmail

Unbeknownst to the agent, the owner selling the property had witnessed the potential buyers entering the property without an agent present. Following notification of u/yebinly’s intent to cancel the signing, the seller threatened to take camera footage recorded by their Ring doorbell and have the user charged with trespassing, even going so far as to state that they must have been the ones to cause property damage, and therefore would also be charged with vandalism. However, if they simply agreed to continue with the signing, the seller wouldn’t file charges. Eager to avoid charges and a legal battle, and not wanting to be forced to purchase a damaged home, the user turned to Reddit seeking advice on how to proceed from real estate professionals. The response was unanimous: the agent clearly was in violation of MLS rules and at fault.



A Felonious Fiasco

Negligence and a momentary lapse in judgment can result in over a hundred hours of required coursework and examinations that you’ve invested in being lost in the blink of an eye. A client being present in a listed property without an agent is illegally trespassing. The eyes of Lady Justice cannot be averted simply because a client was persistent, or perhaps a childhood friend. And should her unblinking gaze find that you are indeed complicit in the commission of this crime, your punishment will indeed be swift and severe. Your MLS will issue significant fines against you, typically in the thousands of dollars. The Real Estate Commission may even be notified, putting your license and career in immediate jeopardy. And that’s all without considering the potential legal action that the seller of the property could bring against you, be it truthful or not, something u/yebinly now knows firsthand.


A moment of weakness and bending of the rules is never worth losing your career over. Have you ever had a client ask you for a lockbox code? Share with a colleague in an upcoming CE Class or let us know in the comments below!

References

“R/Realestate - Seller Is Threatening Us with Trespassing Even Though the Realtor Let Us in.” Reddit, https://www.reddit.com/r/RealEstate/comments/z1zfrv/seller_is_threatening_us_with_trespassing_even/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=ios_app&utm_name=iossmf.


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