The answer Vicky gave sums it up well. It could lose the sellers tens of thousands of dollars should the contract fall out and everyone knew how much less they accepted.
The lockbox usually stays on through settlement. Appraisers, Home Inspectors, Termite Inspectors among others may need to get into the property. You as the buyer will want to do a walk-through just prior to settlement and your agent will use their lockbox key to get you guys in.
As far as other agents and buyers going through the property, we (agents) know that we're not allowed inside a property that is "contingent with no kick out" or "under contract".
Besides, after closing when the sales price goes in, the MRIS tracks statistics like - properties in this area are selling for an average of 93% of list price. That helps both buyers and sellers alike to know what to expect in a given marketplace. The information is really valuable to us all, and any information misrecorded should be corrected and/or reported to MRIS.
Back to the vanishing listing, there's a detail missing. If at first you could see it on the public sites, its is because it was listed as under contingent contract with a kick out - meaning the home could still be viewed and offers were being encouraged, but that if they got another offer they'd have to notify you and go through the appropriate process to "kick" you out of the contract and accept the other offer. Once the contingency was removed, it was then marked as non-contingent and is no longer being marketed. Hopefully that makes more sense to you.
But, if you like the photos, have your agent email the listing to you. It's still in the non-public information.
Congrats on the home purchase. And, if I can ever help you in Virginia, please, give me a call!
Because I thought it was weird too that the List Price was changed...the lockbox is still on the house and I'm guessing that nine hundred more people are walking thru the house because of the price drop...
The one thing that caught my attention about your post is that the Listing Agent changed the asking price on the under contract listing to what the actual sales price was. That is not supposed to happen. The final sales price is not released until after settlement. Doesn't relly affect you, but the implications for the seller could be huge.