Going Digital: Real estate agents using new tool of the trade

By Jim Davis

(Everett) Herald Business Journal Editor

It’s a tool that’s used by virtually every real estate agent — the keybox.

And it just got easier to use for real estate agents all over Western Washington.

The Northwest Multiple Listing Service swapped out 90,000 keyboxes in 23 counties with new ones that can be opened with an agent’s smart phones or tablets.

The older boxes were clunkier and required a separate device about the size of a pager to open, said Tom Hurdelbrink, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service president and CEO.

With this new keybox, real estate agents can download a password protected app to open up the box that stores keys to homes on the market as well as gate cards and other items. (Agents can also open the keybox with a separate device called an ActiveKEY.)

The app relies on BlueTooth technology to open the keyboxes.

The new keyboxes by a Salem, Oregon, firm called Supra also create an online data record so that the listing broker can get real-time information about showings, including the name of other agents who entered the home and the date and time of the showing.

Hurdelbrink said the task involved one-to-one exchanges of tens of thousands of keyboxes used by real estate agents around the state.

Most agents have three or four keyboxes, but some have as many as 50 or more. To change them out, Supra met with more than 23,000 agents at 21 locations over several weeks last fall.

The keybox is a necessary tool for the real estate business, Hurdelbrink said. The keyboxes create a sense of trust where homeowners know the only qualified people have access to their home.

“They’ve been around for decades,” Hurdelbrink said. “It’s nice to see the technology improving.”

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