Realtors to test new lock boxes

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— The days of driving from one side of town to another chasing down keys in order to show properties may soon be over thanks to a decision made by the Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors at its annual meeting.

Pending an agreement with Supra it will be mandatory for all member Realtors to use lock boxes on the doorknobs of their listings. The board chose to use the iBox made by Supra. The iBox uses infrared communication from handheld keycards. Each Realtor is assigned a card and a PIN number. The boxes can hold as many as three keys.

The board plans to negotiate a lease deal with Supra to provide iBoxes to all member Realtors.

"We have enough reserves that the board is in a position to lease them at no cost to members," said board president Randall Hannaway.

The board made the decision for two reasons, Hannaway said. The first was a security concern. The second was environmentally motivated. Because each Realtor has a different code, the electronic iBoxes record who enters the house and when. The iBoxes can be programmed to only accept the PIN of certain Realtors at certain times, allowing homeowners more control over when their homes are accessible.

"If someone accesses the home or building, the next day it will tell me that he did," Hannaway said. "We don't want people to be too casual about going into properties."

The seller can tell an agent that they don't want to use the iBox, Hannaway said.

"But to sell a home in Steamboat you have to be very accessible," he said. "Ninety percent of the time, people don't even think about buying a home until 10 minutes before they see a Realtor. The agent has to drive across town to get a key to show properties that have no lock box."

Security and convenience were a factor in Hannaway's decision, but it was the extra driving that truly motivated him, he said.

Hannaway has been working on the transportation working group of the Steamboat Area Community Plan Update. The group's goal is to identify goals and problem and make recommendations to the city and county.

"We were studying wasted car trips," he said.

"Each Realtor probably spends at least an hour a week driving to pick up keys."

That is environmentally damaging and it costs money, he said.

The iBoxes will go into use as soon as the board reaches a mutual agreement with Supra.

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