Recently we were asked to comment on the new Reflection Lakes vendor gate policy as to how it will affect home sales in the community. First, let’s state what the new policy is. Basically, Realtors must purchase a keyfob for each listing for entrance into the gates. Each keyfob costs $35 and is good for the term of the listing. The keyfob can be saved and re-used for another listing for a $5 charge each time a new listing is taken. Realtors must also submit a copy of the listing agreement to the association, as well as any extensions to the listing.
First, I don;t think the association needs to see the actual listing agreement. A letter from the seller to the association stating the dates should be sufficient. That listing contract is a private contract between homeowner and listing company. By giving that information over to an association, there is no guarantee to the privacy and confidentiality. A homeowner may not want released certain things that could be contained in that agreement.
More importantly than the first point is the next point. By forcing Realtors to purchase gate keyfobs, you’re essentially requiring all Realtors who wish to show a property to a prospective client to drive to listing agent’s company to pick up a keyfob to gain access into the community. There is a reason Realtors purchase expensive lockboxes, and that is to minimize showing agents efforts to show the listed property. It is a proven fact that properties without lockboxes realize far less showings than those that do have lockboxes. Realtors simply don;t have the time to drive all over town picking up keys to show a property, then drive all over town dropping the keys back off. Buyers don’t want to waste time either driving with their Realtor to pickup and drop off keys. There is an abundance of properties on the market right now. If a Realtor has to either drive to an office to pick up a key, or pick up a keyfob to even gain access to the community, it will be quite easy to skip those showings and move on to other more easily accesible listings in the MLS. Keep in mind we have approxinately 16,000 single family homes on the market in Lee County, and over 8,000 condos. There is no shortage.
Even though this policy may be a Boom to the Ellis Team at RE/MAX Realty Group because our office is located essentially within Reflection Lakes, it is bad policy for homeowners. We can forsee every Realtor in town wanting to pickup a keyfob at our office simply becasue we’re located on-site. We will make keyfobs available for our listings only. We know other agents will show our listings just to gain access to a keyfob so they can show whatever other listing they wish to show. We will have to come up with a deposit system from other Realtors to make sure we get these keyfobs back in timely fashion each time. I’m sure that’s going to go over big, but again it’s the Association’s policy that is going to limit showings, not ours.
Essentially the association is taking al lockbox off each property whether they realize it or not. Even though a lockbox might be on the property, the benefit of the lockbox has been destroyed because an agent still needs to drive to the listing company’s office to pick up a keyfob to even get to the lockbox. In a down market, this is not the time to be limiting showings. It is unfortunate that there isn’t another method of allowing access to Realtors for showings.
I’m not sure if any Realtors were consulted on this issue before implementing, but I can assure all that almost all Realtors would tell the board this new policy is a bad idea for homesellers and property values. The gates were put up to promote property values, and in this case the new gate policy may hamper property values by cutting off showings. Don’t be surprised when showings go Down when the new policy takes effect. At last count Reflection lakes had approximately 40 homes not paying association fees and facing foreclosure. Do we really wish to limit showings in this kind of environment? Curentlythere are about 45 Reflection Lakes Homes on the market.
The rest of the homeowners usually end up funding the unpaid fees of the foreclosures. If properties in Reflection Lakes become even more difficult to sell, that number could rise. Seems to me there could be another alternative. Seems a shame to fix one problem and create another huge problem.
I salute the board for being proactive and making difficult decisions. Their job is never easy, and sometimes has unintended consequences. This is one such time. I hope the board has the foresight to take this new information into account and consider any other alternatives that may be available to them for showings and listed property. If the board has further questions, we can be reached at 239-489-4042.
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