Comment: It is very obvious from reading your article in Saturday’s Arizona Republic article in the Real Estate section that you are not aware of how Buyer Agency works, at least in Arizona.

You mentioned in your article that putting a lockbox on a door to a home for sale is giving lousy service. Now, if this were all an agent did, then you’d be correct. But any professional, good agent who does not suggest putting a lockbox on the home is putting his seller at a disadvantage.

There are approximately 40,000 agents who subscribe to our local multiple listing service (MLS). One of the services I provide is to market to these agents, and offer compensation (called a co-broker) to any agent who subscribes to this service who produces a ready, willing, and able buyer.

How can one of these agents show the home to a buyer they are representing if nobody is home? It’s no mystery to those in the industry that homes without lockboxes generally stay on the market much longer than those without.

Buyers want their agent present, whose fiduciary duty is to represent them, not the agent who represents the seller. This way they can comfortably ask questions and know that their concerns [will stay] between them and their agent.

Does this make sense to you, or are you still missing the boat? Though I will have no problem explaining the benefits of a lockbox to my clients, since I already do at all my listing presentations (and since I’ll now have to again after your article), it’s a shame that many agents across the valley may either be fired or be in bad standing with their seller because many people believe everything they read in the paper, even if it’s grossly incorrect and way off target.

I hope you have time read this and rethink your comments about lockboxes.

A: Nothing boils a real estate agent’s blood faster than a story about lock boxes. I have received many emails in response to this column, but I stand by my original statement: Lock boxes don’t really serve the seller’s best interest. Next to the seller, no one knows his home better than the listing agent. I believe a great listing agent should be the one to “show” it to prospective buyers and their agents. The listing agent is the perfect person to point out all the good things about the house, deflect any criticisms the buyer or his agent may have, or answer any questions that come up. Real estate agents are rightly concerned about falling commissions. I believe that providing increased services to sellers and buyers in this Internet age is one way to build and sustain business. If the big-time marketing plans of a listing agent only include listing the home in the MLS and putting a lock box on the front door, then sellers should really think about what they are getting for their 5 or 6 percent commission. With so many discount brokerage options available, full-service listing agents need to show much value they are adding to the transaction. Otherwise, a seller could spend $1,000, list his home on the local MLS through a “for sale by owner” website, buy and install his own lockbox, and get essentially the same service. As for how tough showing up to all the showings is on listing agents, I can only be somewhat sympathetic. It is hard to show all listings all of the time and particularly at specific times requested by buyers. But there are several places around the country where listing agents do show each property. If agents are so busy that they can’t get to each showing, or if the properties listed are so geographically diverse as to prevent the agent from getting to all the showings, then perhaps an assistant or partner to the listing can help. Finally, a lock box could be used in limited circumstances where the listing agent can’t be there for the showing.

Unfortunately, some listing agents use the lock box as a replacement to being present to show the property for all of the showings. If you go to the forum at my website,, you’ll see plenty of agents from around the country who have weighed in on this issue and believe strongly that listing agents should show homes. I invite you, and all of my readers, to continue this discussion there.

June 2, 2007