You know those funny-looking boxes on door knobs, the lock boxes that safeguard keys to homes on the market? Those are for agents and other authorized professional s - think appraisers, home inspectors, etc. - who need keys for their appointments.

They are not meant for non-authorized people  - think people looking at homes without agents.  Yet I hear about agents who hand out combination codes,  loan electronic keys, etc. I also hear about buyers who “just want to stick my head inside – the house is empty, isn’t it?”.

Buyers – if your agent offers you a key or code instead of taking you to a scheduled showing, RUN.  They are not doing their job by sending you alone.  They could also be setting you and the property owner up for trouble if anything happens to the property as a result of your visit…or if someone THINKS it happened as a result.

Sellers – if anyone other than an authorized professional needs into the house, your agent needs to be there. That’s our job. If we can’t be there at that time, we re-schedule the visit. Those boxes are called “lock” boxes for a reason.

As the real estate market improves, everyone gets busier. Some folks will take short cuts. Don’t encourage them. Just call someone who will take the time to do the job right.

Brenna Piper ABR, REALTOR®, Cookeville TN, has worked with American Way Real Estate since 2002. A former television news photographer and corporate marketing director, she provides accomplished marketing and negotiating services to sellers and buyers across ten countries of Tennessee’s scenic  Upper Cumberland area. For more information, contact her at