Lock box rules and regulations vary depending on what real estate association you’re a member of, so make sure you’ve read the fine print. Failure to follow the lock box guidelines of your association can lead to hefty fines.
In addition to the National Association of Realtors, lock box requirements can be made by local real estate associations or recognized lock box vendors.
According to Realtor.org’s lock box security requirements, “eligibility for coverage under NAR’s blanket errors and omissions insurance program is contingent on compliance with the following security measures.”
Here’s a quick run-down of NAR’s 10 requirements:
- Keys must not be duplicated or “duplicative” (meaning cannot be easily copied).
- Keys must be obtained from the original manufacturer, a recognized vendor or other legitimate source.
- Lock box systems need to be designated as an “activity” of “an association of realtors or an association-owned and operated MLS.”
- Associations must maintain current records of all keys issued and in inventory.
- Associations must require a “substantial” deposit from each key holder (between $25 and $300).
- Lock boxes can only be placed on a property after the seller gives written consent.
- Key holders and co-signatories must immediately report lost, stolen, or unaccounted for keys.
- “Associations shall adopt written, reasonable, and appropriate rules and procedures for administration of lock box systems which may include appropriate fees, not to exceed $15,000.” (Amended in November 2013).
- Associations and multiple listing services may sell electronic lock box keypads or programmers to MLS participants.
- If the lock box is authorized by the seller and occupant, MLSs may require placement of an approved lock box on listed properties.
Pay attention to the requirement that’s been bolded. This rule allows for local real estate associations to make their own rules, which is exactly why it’s important to read your association’s regulations.
One popular rule many associations make is that you must have an appointment to view the property. If you’re caught using the lock box to enter a home without an appointment, you can be fined. For example, Illinois’ Peoria Area Association of Realtors’ SentriLock policy states:
Realtors must contact the listing broker to disclose their agency status and to arrange [an] appointment to show listed property unless stated otherwise on the MLS computer listing. The fine for entering a property without [an] appointment shall be $500.
Similarly, Park Hill, Missouri’s Mineral Area Board of Realtors’ “Rules and Regulations for Using the Supra/Kim System” states “Fines up to $1,000 may be levied for entering a property without first making an appointment.”
So, make sure you cover yourself and read the fine print of your local real estate association’s lock box regulations. You may find some rules you didn’t know existed, or that you’ve been unknowingly violating!