Julie Fisher, Home Buyer in San Francisco, CA

Should a the board allow a common area key to be placed in a lockbox? I live in a 12-unit condominum and find this risky.

Asked by Julie Fisher, San Francisco, CA Sun Sep 30, 2012

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Julie Fisher’s answer
Astrid, yes a few years ago a lockbox was sawed off the gate, however there was no attempt to break in.

It is my opinion that the realtor and owner should have the property ready before putting a lockbox on a building. The rights of the other homeowners are being disrespected.

First and foremost, the property is a home not an investment tool.

In this case, I think the policy should allow a reasonable time for showing. After that time, the property should show by appointment. After all, the property is located in San Francisco and not a depressed area.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 30, 2012
It all depends on the current house rules of the HOA. If this is a concern to you, the best thing is to ask the HOA to bring up the matter for a vote. If enough homeowners feel as you do, the boad can change the lockbox policy.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 30, 2012
Astrid, The logic refers to the minimizing the length of time a lockbox is on a building. My building has aging persons and I am aware of the 8-10k month to live in assisted living facilitates in San Francisco. They are aging in place and deserve respect as do other owners. It is, after all, a home.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 30, 2012
Julie, I completely agree that a property should be ready before it goes on the market, however the marketing is handled.

Not sure I follow the logic about how this relates to whether or not a lock box is used.

As to whether a property you live in is first and foremost a primary residence or an investment. That most certainly depends on your age. I have had clients who were able to afford the $5-7,000/month an assisted care facility requires only because I was able to sell what used to be their primary residence for a good price.

No one answers fits all circumstances. Which is what I do is so very engaging, even after 30 years.

Astrid Lacitis
Keynote Properties
415 860 0765
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 30, 2012
It is a great idea and done by many boards. The keys are to change the code either every month or every 2 months. The code should be for licensed Realtors or authorized maintenance people only. Not to be given to visitors.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 30, 2012
Julie, have there been issues in your building with lock boxes? Were those realtor lock boxes or trades people lock boxes? Or are you simply speculating there might be problems?

You are right, well priced property sells. But when a buyer walks in they have two questions: how much is it and how long has it been on the market? The longer the marketing time the less the seller gets, and if one of your fellow homeowners ends up selling for less it affects the value of the rest of the units, whether you are refinancing or selling.

Astrid Lacitis
Keynote Properties
415 860 0765
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 30, 2012
Thank you for your responses. I do understand the logic of allowing access to the building to expedite the sale of a property. My concern is the safety of others. If a realtor prices a property appropriately, a condo in San Francisco should not be on the market long.

I think the HOA Board should be allowed to provide guidelines as common sense is to so common today.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 30, 2012
Do the common areas add value or contribute to the value of the property being sold?

Does a potential buyer have the right to review these attributes of the property to be purchased?

Will not the potential buyer be 'on the hook' to pay for the maintenance, repair or replacement of items in the common area?

I can see myself showing a condo to a qualified buyer and saying, "Yep, there's a pool, hot tub, fitness center, riding stables. golf course, water park and a Starbucks over there, but I can't show it to you."

Meanwhile the buyer holds a MLS printout that states on every page, "Information is believed to be accurate but should be verified." ???

OF course the key should be available! If not in the electronic box, it shoudl be on the hook behind the entry door to the unit. The real estate professional, however, should be visually identifiable apart from the buyer and with a name badge.

Let me be frank. I love it when boards impose heaping piles of rules and restrictions on selling a property. These rules will come back to bite those who voted to approve them when they realize how incredibly difficult they have made it to sell their property. The owners options to sell their unit constrict with every rule imposed. Only one party benefits most consistently as an outcome of these actions.

Contrary to the suggestion implied in your question, every effort should be made to accommodate the sale of the unit AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE, not place obstacles in the path. The sooner the sale takes place, the less opportunity for xenophobia to surface.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 30, 2012
Discuss the issue with the board, each building has different rules, the electronic lock boxes, where only Realtors in good standing can enter the building are pretty safe, all others the residents and
the board should evaluate how they want to go about the access key to the building itself....

And yes if the listing agent for the seller, needs to be present to let another Realtor or interested buyer into the building it will make coordination for showings more complicated. The best way is to think
in your case what would YOU want to happen if you were to sell and listed your condo with a Realtor....
You would want the showings to be as easy and accommodating as possible so you sell....

On the other hand for all occupants you want the building to stay safe for all.

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Edith YourRealtor4Life & Chicago and Northern Illinois Expert

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0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 30, 2012
There are two types of lock boxes: electronic and manual.

In the San Francisco area, realtors have what is known as the Supra lock box. It is used when one of the units in your building is for sale. If it is not there then the listing agent meets every single prospective buyer and his/her realtor in person. This of course entails coordinating various schedules, slows the selling process. If a Supra lock box is used, the only way a buyer's realtor can access the key that is inside is by using a small computer that records who and when the lock box was opened. The realtor must be in good standing with the board to use this service.

The other type of lock box that is used is a manual one, with has a code. It is typically used by tradespeople to access a building for maintenance, cleaning, etc.

A small HOA usually does not have a concierge, so if the manual lock box is unacceptable then the only other options are either for the HOA to hand out common area keys to the various trades people who work in the building or for an HOA member to stay at home and let people in at various times, week after week, year after year, which is not realistic.

Tradespeople, so you know, are typically bonded.

Not sure how long you have been in your building, but perhaps you should talk to your fellow HOA members, get their opinion on this matter. What I have found is that in most cases, if a problem arises, it is because someone has left a door open and not because someone broke into a lock box.
It is also prudent to place lock boxes, if used, in the least inconspicuous places possible because there have been instances where lock boxes have been vandalized.

Astrid Lacitis
Keynote Properties
415 860 0765
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 30, 2012
This is a very common practice.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 30, 2012
I've shown many condos in hi-rise buildings and a Realtor has to gain entrance to the lobby of the building so the secure lock box is the correct place to have the key to the building. The showing services I call here in TN ask for a Realtor's showing pin which is a secure number and then we are checked to make sure we are a realtor.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 30, 2012
If it was dangling on a string from a nail I would agree with you, but it is not. It is in a secure lockbox and many register the users and when they opened it so only a Realtor is going to open it and use it.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 30, 2012
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