We saw the effects of this when our board switched to electronic boxes a few years ago. We are a small community that is completely surrounded by larger ones in all directions. Our electronic boxes are not the same as any surrounding community yet, all surrounding communities share the same.
Our board decided on the change for various reasons yet, in my opinion, the change was made to effectively "shut out" "out of area" agents in an attempt to "protect" local agents. The biggest problem is that more than 80% of those moving to our community at the time were not from our area and had their trusted agent of choice in tow. Did this help our market? Quite the contrary in my opinion. Many homes were sold by agents that included a second lock box.....a combo box just for out of town agents. Choosing a local agent is important but, when representing a seller, my main concern is selling their home regardless of where the buyers agent comes from. Accessibility, as we all know, is an issue. If a home can not be shown....it can not be sold. Electronic lock box, combo box or???? Will it really stop the criminal from entering a home?
Look at REO listings. The respective lenders require combination boxes for easy accessibility. This is for many reasons including easy access for contractors but, there are any agents coming to our market to sell REO properties. Would the bank, or any self respecting agent, want to stop them? Does it truly stop, or hinder, a thief or vandal from doing what they are going to do anyway? Nope. We have had REO properties with missing kitchens, appliances and vandalism. One thing in common with them all is that the lock box was not used to gain entry. They broke a window, a door or picked a lock and in one case, removed the front door altogether. Lockbox still intact and unopened. Issues that will not be solved by an electronic lock box or other method.
Lockboxes are great for one thing. Hindering access from agents out of the area who do not have a particular boards electronic key. Do I want to stop any agent that may have a buyer from showing a property? Would my seller if they knew all of the facts? Buyers are gold and I would not ever think that I will be able to capture the market by hindering accessibility to an "out of town" agent.
One great aspect of electronic boxes is that I can get showing data sent to my cell phone. I know when an agent was there and, who they were. I could then call them and grill them about why I don't have an offer (not the best usage of the system). I can also request that feedback be entered at the time of opening when the agent is using their PDA to access. I like that part, a great tool for sure. One that is used by less than 1% of agents.
I believe that we should have state wide electronic lockboxes. Accessible by all subscribing members regardless of where they are. It would help to foster better relationships between boards, would be of great benefit to our clients (This is why we are here) and add value to our services as REALTORS and real estate professionals.