Question: What are the advantages and the disadvantages of using combo boxes versus lockboxes?
First, a little clarification. The use of combo boxes is not regulated by our Regional Rules and Regulations for the Supra Keybox System for Realtor® Members (lockbox rules). Lockboxes on the other hand, which are available for purchase through NVAR, are covered by the lockbox rules. What does this mean for Realtors®? First, the level of protection offered for the owners of a property differs. Access to properties with lockboxes is limited to Realtors® and their clients. In contrast, while MRIS restricts the publication of combo box combinations to the “Agent Remarks” field, there are no regulations preventing agents from publishing these codes on other Web sites, such as Craig’s List. Once the code is published, anyone can access the property at any time without leaving a record of it. When someone enters a property through a lockbox, there is a record of the visit. Each lockbox key is assigned to one agent and thus the owner can trace who has entered his or her property. Since combo boxes are not regulated, their use is unchecked, whereas lockbox rules violations can be brought to the attention of the Board and compliance can be enforced through NVAR’s Grievance Procedures.
So why are some owners requiring the use of a combo box? There are some advantages. Since they are not regulated, the owner or the agent can give the combination out to all who need access to the property without having a representative present. The contractor, home inspector and appraiser can all access the property conveniently. On the other hand, the lockbox rules require that the agent, who owns the lockbox key, be present and secure the property upon the departure of these contractors.