There’s always something to howl about

Every picture tells a story: Orphaned lockboxes…

I see this all the time lately. The blue lockboxes are Supra boxes. They cost about $75 each.

The vendor box and the front blue box belong to the current lister of the home.

We do our homes this way, too, with a Supra box for Realtors, appraisers and inspectors and a vendor box for any tradesmen we send into the house — and also to have a spare key on the property. For reasons that seem obvious to us, we don’t put the two lockboxes in the same place.

The blue box in back belongs to the last listing agent, for whom the home didn’t sell.

I’d have to run the lockbox to know for sure, but when I see more than one blue box on a property, my assumption is that the previous agent has left the business. Otherwise, why leave a $75 asset hanging on the hose bib?

We’ve thought about offering $20 for the release codes for these orphaned lockboxes: A little dough for you, and we’ll pick up the lockbox.

A sad story, but it’s not the liquidator’s job to weep over the mess, but simply to clean it up.

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15 Comments so far

  1. Marlow August 28th, 2008 9:52 pm

    They’ve increased the cost of those Supra boxes to $95 in our market. I imagine we’ll be seeing a lot more of those lockboxes, abandoned, when the internal batteries wear out and the only way to remove them is with a crowbar or a hacksaw.

  2. John Sabia August 29th, 2008 6:30 am

    Hey Greg,
    I think that is a common sad scenario in a lot of markets right now. I don’t think agents realize that the lockbox is an asset that they can sell for cash to another agent.
    Supra boxes here in Fort Lauderdale are on sale – $69,95, but the offer ends soon!
    #1 Fort Lauderdale Real Estate web-site

  3. Glenn August 29th, 2008 7:53 am

    Greg – you probably hit the nail on the head for the reason that the agent is out of business – doesn’t understand financial aspects of business. As well as poor record keeping.

  4. Russell Volk August 29th, 2008 8:25 am

    I see this happening in my area as well. I was showing a condo in downtown Philadelphia and it has a gated entrance. All lockboxes are hanging on the gate. There had to be at least 15 of them all over the gate. It’s pretty sad but reality.

    Website Bucks County Real Estate

  5. Bridget Magnus August 29th, 2008 11:12 am

    I know I periodically get one of those emails sent out to all the local NAR members offering cash for unused keyboxes. Seems like a win-win-win-win situation to me: you get a box, someone else gets cash, buyers’ agents don’t have to guess which box is the one that actually has keys in it, some homeowner of the future doesn’t have to figure out how to get rid of the damn thing.

  6. […] is in the Phoenix market, and posts an interesting anecdote from there. Apparently there is an over-supply of lockboxes. I haven’t seen that here, but will we? And, for practical application, if you, as a […]

  7. Michelle De August 29th, 2008 8:00 pm

    In our area the local mls association actually owns the boxes and we pay a set annual fee for use. The lockboxes are assigned to the broker, based on average number of company listings plus up to 20%.

    The results, cost of utilizing is the same whether you have 1 listing or 100 and we see very few orphaned lockboxes, as the broker has to pay if they are missing. We recently changed from the old grey Supra boxes to the cool blue ones, so the brokers had to physically turn them in and there were not nearly as many missing as I would have guessed there would be.

  8. Tina Fountain August 30th, 2008 5:38 am

    Greg – in our market these are now $95 and we still see them left on listings, there’s even a locksmith that specializes in removing them!

  9. Michael Reilly August 30th, 2008 12:02 pm

    What a sad site! We haven’t been hit that hard in Austin but I’ve started noticing my own collection of lockboxes have been sitting out there for a longer time than I’m used to.

  10. Sue August 30th, 2008 12:25 pm

    Its funny,in our area, we usually write the code on the side of the box. I have gotten calls from various clients and friends to come and remove unclaimed lockboxes.

  11. James Boyer New Jersey August 30th, 2008 2:13 pm

    Hmmm, had not noticed many of the blue lock boxes with the shackle release code written on them, but I keep close track of my lock boxes, I am not going to be leaving may assets hanging on someone else’s door. Last time I purchased lock boxes they were $80 here in Norther New Jersey.

  12. Wine Dog September 1st, 2008 5:44 am

    You know Greg, once these lock boxes are orphaned, they get bounced around from foster home to foster home. Next thing you know, they’re hanging out late at night, missing curfew, smoking cigarettes and selling pre-approvals on the corner.

  13. John Soliman September 30th, 2008 7:41 pm

    I am interested in purchasing these lockboxes. If you have any for sale I can be reached at 813-326-9776 or at

  14. Brandon Schlichter October 14th, 2008 10:32 am

    I’ve seen a FEW lock boxes that have been orphaned.

    In my case, it’s from REO listings that the previous agent didn’t feel like driving out and taking off, when the asset was removed from them (Usually due to distance).

    It’s amazing to me as well that a agent would leave a lock box there considering the cost.

    I have left the lockbox on properties or at them a time or two, but it was due to other reasons IE major conflicts with the seller (In fact, I had one seller tell me if the box wasn’t off the listing within 24 hours that he’d cut it off with cutters, unfortunately my Ekey was on the fritz, and he did cut it off).

  15. Buenos Aires Real Estate January 12th, 2009 12:31 pm

    For sure the guy that sells these blue lockboxes is making good money nowadays…