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Fischer: The key to real estate happiness is easily accessible listings

By Jen Fischer - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Apr 5, 2024

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Jen Fischer

Keys are the bane of my existence. It is irrelevant to the context. There are key players, keys to success, key witnesses, latchkey children, musical keys, computer keys and even a key to one’s heart. I could be on key, but more often than not, I am off key. Either way, I have always thought the key to be illusive and ambiguous. It is pure irony then, that the key is the literal path into the practice of my profession.

In my unsolicited opinion, there should be an entire real estate course taught about the perplexing and disconcerting nature of the key. We are taught and tested on how to measure a property by metes and bounds, something I have never needed in my career and likely never will. Yet after all these years, I still struggle to negotiate the key.

Part of the reason for this conundrum is the plethora of obstacles concerning the key that need to be overcome, specifically when referring to access to a house for the purpose of selling or purchasing. First, there is the question of where is the key? Since most people now access their homes through a garage door or electronic keypad, many people have no idea if or where a house key can be located. Once the key is located, there is the question of what type of a lockbox will be used and where the lockbox will be located on the property. As part of a real estate board, we can rent or purchase specific lockboxes that can only be accessed by Bluetooth by a licensed Realtor who has a code. Personally, I prefer these types of boxes since I can then track the agents who show my listings as well as what time the box was accessed and how long before the key was replaced in the box. This is an additional step we can take to keep our listings safe from theft or harm. As a buyer’s agent showing the home, these boxes are great and easy to access … if your phone has been charged, your Bluetooth is working and you have cellphone service in the area to access the key.

Once the type of key box has been determined, where to place said key box is the next complicated matter. While the front doorknob is the most practical solution, some homes can’t accommodate that due to the type of door or doorknob. If this is the case, the box can be placed on a water meter, a piece of patio furniture, an exterior light fixture, a fence, a garden gnome, a hose bib or some other obscure and covert location. Sometimes, the list agent will even disclose the location for a buyer’s agent. At other times, especially during rain or snowstorms, it is a fun treasure hunt to see if the box can be located while the potential buyer waits on the porch for what can seem like an exorbitant amount of time.

The next step, once the key has been located, is inserting the key in just the right position in the lock — not too far in and just far enough out — that the lock actually turns and allows entry. This too is a fun activity for all. Sometimes, getting the key in that perfect position is “tricky” to say the least. Once it works, however, the key is then to remain somewhere on the showing agent for the duration of the showing until it is used to relock the door, the same way it was unlocked — again, a potentially time-consuming activity. The key must then be returned to the lockbox, assuming the agent remembers where on her person she has placed it.

Lest one thinks this seems a simple task, allow me to shed some additional light to correct the assumption by presenting some examples from personal experiences. For one, I remember the giant decorative keyring which jammed the lockbox and made it impossible to open … ever again. I also recall the time when I dropped the key in the snow retrieving it from a precariously placed lockbox under a hose, behind the covered A/C, on a gas meter, during a late-night showing. The temperature was a balmy 13 degrees that evening and there was no moon. Once my fingers turned blue and I had lost all feeling in them, I succumbed to the loss of the key and called the list agent to let him know I would return early the next morning to resume my search.

I can recall more than one occasion when I would have more easily climbed to the roof and slid down the chimney than finagle the lock open with a key that, according to the seller, “you just had to jiggle a little.”

It is easy to see my plight here. I am toying with the idea of heading down to the prison to have someone teach me the art of picking a lock. Stay tuned to see if this proverbial key opens a door to an entirely new profession.

Jen Fischer is an associate broker and Realtor. She can be reached at 801-645-2134 or jen@jen-fischer.com.


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