Real Estate Investors: Time Is Our Most Valuable Asset – Use the Lock Box!

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The reason most of us invest in real estate is because we’re ultimately looking to buy time to have money, which will allow us to spend our time however we wish. Now that I am comfortable money wise, I am very fickle about my time and anyone who wastes it. In the past, I have decided not to partner with investors who showed up 10 minutes late to a meeting (Once late, always late and unreliable. Trust me). I’ve turned down people who wanted to join my coaching program because they were five minutes late for a call, without explanation. And recently, I killed a dating opportunity over someone not respecting my time. Let me explain: I met this nice girl when I was out one night. She was sweet and we got along so I got her number. I called her and we set up a date for Wednesday night at 6:30. She said she might have to work a little late, so she said she was going to call me at 6:00 that night and we would figure out where we wanted to go.

Well, 6:00 rolled around and no call, then finally at 8:30 she called me. She talked as if everything was normal and made no comment at all about our supposed date. So, I couldn’t take it anymore and I interrupted her. I said listen, you were supposed to call me at 6, it’s now 8:30 and I think it’s extremely rude, because I could have made other plans. Only after I said this does she proceed to begin apologizing and telling me she is sorry. Then I told her that my time is valuable and that if she is the type of person who flakes out, then we need to part ways now (yes, those were my exact words). Again, she apologized and said she had a tough day at work. We got off the phone and she called me a few days later, but I’m not sure I’m going to call her back. I understand that people can be late and that no one is perfect. However, if someone doesn’t have the courtesy to call you and tell you they are going to be late or call you and cancel, then I would avoid them. You can’t trust people who aren’t punctual and don’t respect others time.

Now of course, when I told my friends this story they thought I was an A-Hole, but then again many of them have a cubicle job and don’t value their time like I do.

Here’s the whole reason why I’m on this time rant:
A friend of a friend got in contact with me and told me about a house she was trying to sell. Then she proceeded to tell me about how the house is 3.5 hours away and she hated driving there to show the house. As soon as I heard her say this, I quickly informed her about the lock box method and how she should not be driving 3.5 hours to show the house.

For those of you who are not familiar with the lock box method here’s how it works: First, you need a lock box form. Then, you need to go to Home Depot and spend $30 on a contractors lock box. Put a key in it and put it on the house. Then when people call you and want to see the house, you email them the lock box form. Tell them to sign it and to fax it back along with a copy of their driver’s license. Once you get the signed form, release the four digit code to them. It’s that simple.

I just filled a vacancy and did not go to the house until I met the woman to collect a deposit. I never showed it and I didn’t do a single thing. Actually, my assistant Lisa took the calls, she sent all of the forms, and she processed the applications. You see, I’m not going to the house until I have a new tenant approved and I’m going to collect a check. I don’t want to do most things unless I’m going to collect a check out of it. Everything else should be left to your assistant.

Note From Admin: Buy Lockboxes in Bulk From BiggerPockets here and here.

About Author

Jason R. Hanson is the founder of National Real Estate Investor Month and the author of “How to Build a Real Estate Empire”. Jason specializes in purchasing properties “subject-to” and has purchased millions of dollars worth of property using none of his own cash or credit.


  1. Always sage advice – work smarter, not harder, and respect the time of others. Most importantly, treat the time of others as you’d like to have them treat yours. In a challenging market, there’s nothing wrong with choosing where to spend your time!

  2. Hi Jason,

    Great article. I wish I would have thought to write on this. I use this method of “showing” places too. It has saved me a ton of time.

    One of my partners still insists on meeting people out at the houses, as she feels she can better “sell” them that way.

    I had told her that in my experience only about 50% of the people show up, and that is IF you call them the day of the showing to remind them about the appointment.

    I would rather crank up the marketing and drive a horde of people through the place automatically, than drive out and wait on a coin toss to see if I have a prospect.

    The biggest fear people have with this method is that they are letting someone they haven’t met go through the property. they are afraid of being open to vandalism, theft or other damages.

    The truth of the matter is that when you have their phone number, nobody is going to mess with the place, especially if you have properly prequalified them. Then they are considering living in it as they walk through, not what they can destroy.


    James Miller’s last blog post: How to use Real Estate to get an infinite return on your money.

  3. myrtle beach rentals on

    great post. We have looked at showing houses with lockboxes several times and decided not too. But i do like your idea about the lockbox form. But how many people would just decide to look at the next property on the list verses going through the hassle?

  4. I sell the majority of my houses on a rent to own basis which seperates me from the pack and makes people want to see my houses. I advertise the opportunity to own their own home and FREE money in rent credits (usually 200-300 per month).

    When I do this I always have a flood of prospects seeing my houses and filling out applications.

  5. Anthony aka ROIGuy on


    I couldn’t agree more.

    I was in a business (entertainment) where an appointed time was treated as merely a suggestion and when you called people on their tardiness — chronic in some cases — you were the jerk. I’m glad to know that someone else beside myself is willing to demand that people respect their most precious resource.


  6. Anthony,

    The fun part about my partner going to show a place in person and then not having them show up, is that she will call back and read them the riot act for wasting her time. I have heard her on these calls and she dammed near leaves them crying.

    I unfortunately don’t have quite that much aggressiveness in me and treat it more like the cost of doing business.

    I think she tries to build rapport with people where I tend to work it from a numbers standpoint.

    James Miller’s last blog post: How to avoid a Real Estate lawsuit

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