We recently had a member alert issued by the Toronto Real Estate Board about an unauthorized entry into a Toronto house for sale by an individual who had the lock box code to the house but no appointment. The seller was at his Toronto home at time of incident and asked the stranger about their appointment which wasn’t confirmed. He then followed by calling the listing agent after which the stranger disappeared.
This incident makes me nervous! As an agent, I don’t want to have anyone accessing the property without my or my client’s consent. There are couple of ways this could happen and I’m going to explain what the current process to keeping our clients secure is and review where the leak could’ve happened.
Anytime an agent contacts us for an appointment for one of our listings, we verify that the information being provided is true. We have a database of all active agents in the Toronto Real Estate Board. In case of new agents, we collect their information and verify against the company name they are registered with. The lock box code is never released to the individual calling over the phone.
We proceed to calling our client to confirm that the date and time is ok to show the property. If the client confirms, we then call the brokerage office where the agent is employed to confirm that their employment exists and release the lock box to the brokerage and keep track of who the lock box was released to. The cooperating brokerage would then release the lockbox to their agent hence keeping a tight control on who can access the information.
This is the process in a nutshell. Now let’s review what could be the reason a breach took place.
- The stranger was an agent that has seen the property before and was coming back to look at it again without an appointment
- The stranger was a client of a real estate agent that had seen the property and wanted to go back to look at it again. The real estate agent released the lock box code to the stranger to go check it out them self.
- The stranger was an employee of the brokerages in question and obtained the information
In my experience, I have seen lock boxes released by vendors to trade workers which could also be a reason for the leak. Another possible breach could be the client who saw the house with a realtor noticed the code and came back for another look.
Whichever the case might be from above, what happened shouldn’t have happened. We value our client’s security and keep a very tight control on the information. We never release lock box codes to anyone over the phone unless they are verified to be who they say they are and don’t release lock box codes to the vendor unless they specifically ask for it.
If you’re thinking about selling your home and will be placing a lockbox on your front door, please make sure you have a discussion with your REALTOR to confirm what their office policy is relating to releasing lock box codes.