Self-showing lock boxes became very popular after several agents where attacked and even killed in our industry as well as the real estate industry. Unfortunately this has become something that happens more often than people probably know (or want to know) so we initially started using self-showing boxes for the safety of our staff.
Most property managers do not have the staff available to have more than one person at a showing at a time. I will admit that I have definitely felt a little “uncomfortable” during a showing from time to time. We also found that utilizing the self-showing services helped us rent properties much faster than before. We had a pandemic if you will, of missed appointments, no shows and difficulty coordinating schedules with all the other responsibilities we have as property managers.
Utilizing this technology enables us to be more efficient with our time and energy, focusing on qualifying tenants, managing maintenance and being more available to our existing clients and tenants.
Below are the questions and answers from an existing client who was concerned about our showing method. His reply: “Thanks for clarifying things for me. I can see both sides. It makes me more comfortable that you are able to work the lock remotely. It seems to provide some assurance that the access for people is not unlimited. Let’s continue the process as is. Thanks Mike”
Q & A’s:
Do you change the code after each showing? Each person that accesses the property is given a unique code to do so after they answer a series of questions about themselves and uploads a copy of their photo ID to the system. That is how we track who/when someone accesses the property.
Do you have to go there physically to do that or can you access the digital lock remotely? We assign lockboxes to the property remotely, and codes are assigned remotely.
Are there any cameras recording and/or warning visitors that they are being monitored? There are no cameras. There are several signs hung throughout the property to ensure that lights are turned off, doors are locked and they key is placed back in the lockbox. When we perform vacant house checks we have a checklist of several items we monitor to ensure all things are the way they need to be.
If someone duplicates the key while the rest in his party is viewing the house, would that allow them access at a later time? I can not say that this is not a potential issue however it has never happened. The viewing code is only good for 1 hour. When we perform vacant house checks one of the items we check is if there is a key in the lockbox. Typically several people are viewing this house over the course of a day or few days so we would be notified very quickly if a key is missing. Again, that has not happened. A potential applicant must go through a process to receive a code and most criminals do not go to that kind of trouble.
I am sure there are many more possibilities that I am not thinking about right now, like squatting, cooking up meth, stealing the appliances etc. Who would be liable for the damages and any claims arising from those activities? Either your home owners insurance or our liability insurance would handle any issues that would arise on that front. If we were to find a squatter in the property we would take the steps to have them removed asap obviously. Idaho does not have laws that “protect” squatters. We have not had an negative incidents to date using the self showing boxes. We have heard all of the stories and which is why we have taken steps to ensure that these things do not happen. Once an application is approved the lockbox is disabled and only vendors or staff can access it. That typically takes between 3 to 10 days lately.
Maybe things haven’t happened around here yet, but the “Big City” is moving into Boise as we speak. Watching Portland, Seattle,Chicago ……. inner cities and now suburbs burn and get looted without consequences makes me wonder how much to trust anyone. I have to assume that I bear all the risk? You do not bear all the risk, our insurance is aware of our practices and they are quit common across the united states with property managers. We have taken every precaution we can to ask the right questions, set the limitations on showings and we check our vacant properties on a regular basis.
If you would like more information about this or how we can help make owning an investment property Less Hassle, More Happy, we would love to speak with you. Give us a call at 208-949-3083 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.