Barbara, Both Buyer and Seller in Massachusetts

Who pays when keys are missing?

Asked by Barbara, Massachusetts Mon Apr 25, 2011

Our keys went missing from our realtor's lockbox after a showing. We had our locks changed, but are now in a dispute with our realtor about who should pay for this. She has finally said that she will pay out of her own pocket at our closing, but in this market, who knows when that will be. Am I know to think that we should be reimbursed now?

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The cost of a few missing keys is not the issue. The issue is that there is now a set of keys "out there" and you have no idea who has them, nor how secure your home is. So you did the sensible thing and had the locks changed.

Your agent, should also, now do the sensible thing and reimburse you for your expense. In fact, in my opinion, she should have simply told your locksmith to send her the bill, so that you wouldn't be out of pocket at all. After all, you did the footwork.

Granted, the missing keys are probably not the fault of your agent, clearly one of the showing agents screwed up... and forgot to return the keys, lost them, or confused them with a different set. But this was an opportunity for your Realtor to step up and show that she was more concerned with your safety and well being and earn a client-for-life, and she missed that opportunity, big time!
2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 25, 2011
Alan May, Real Estate Pro in Evanston, IL
In a perfect world, this would not happen yet it happens all the time. Often the keys do show up a day or two later. In the future you might call your agent before changing locks and work it out before you pay for it. The phone call might motivate the agent to go searching for those keys rather then paying for new locks...either way the agent never had a choice, to be fair perhaps you both can split the cost.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Apr 30, 2011
Who showed the house? The last agent to come through the house should pay. Have your realtor call he/she politely and ask if he recalls putting the keys back in and locking the lock. If a neighbor overheard the code or the agent didn't spin the dial after he locked it it really isn't your Realtors fault.
I would pay out of my comission, but I would change the locks myself to save money. They don't have to be super quality locks because the new owner will change the locks after closing.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 26, 2011
I believe your agent should take care of this. Apparently you paid to change the locks, and now must wait for the closing to be reimbursed. I would get a new agent. It was her lockbox, and her responsibility. Her care and service to you is lacking. You should not have to dispute this with an agent that is supposed to be providing a service to you.
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 25, 2011

In a best case scenario, the person responsible for the keys turning up missing should be responsible for the resulting expense. If this is not the case clearly, the listing agent should step up and take care of this responsibility.

The action of saying they'll pay this expense at closing is a "cop out." Or possibly another way to insure the listing remains in their stable.

If unsatisfied with this approach, it may be beneficial to be in touch with the listing agent's broker to process this serious security breech with them. It is my opinion that you should not be inconvenienced or financially responsible in any way.

Wouldn't it be nice for someone to step forward and "man-up" by saying they made a mistake and will take care of it.

Good luck,

0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 25, 2011
Oooh...that's a tough one. Just so that I'm clear...did your listing agent lose the keys or was it a buyer's agent during a showing?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 25, 2011
It is unfortunate that the keys were not returned to the lockbox and that they couldn't be tracked back to the last agent to show your home. It is reasonable in my opinion for the agent to reimburse you at the closing. But that is something you guys need to work out.. I would suggest if you haven't done so already , to place the showings of your home with a showing service , you can also frequently change the combo so that previous viewers of the home can't gain access via the previous combo if that is a concern.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 25, 2011
As a listing agent, I would probably offer to do the same. The missing key is probably not her fault, and she because she will only get paid if/when the property sells, there is no good reason to expect her to be fronting the $ for the lock change now. Hope this helps... cut your Realtor a little slack, we can only control so much. Ideally, you want your Realtor to accompany every showing, but sometimes that's not possible.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 25, 2011
Barbara to copy a key is aprroxomatly two dollars, I would not worry about such an incidental item when selling a home you have much more to gain or lose than a key. Chances are the agent who accidentally took the key will return it anyway. Did your agent call the last showing agent?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 25, 2011
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