Intentionally Broke Key In Lock To Prevent Showings....Complain?

17 Replies

I want to ask what you agents...and maybe even investors would do in this situation. I had a showing set up, one what I suspect was going to be a very hot property.  Property was listed very late on Tuesday night. I scheduled within hours of seeing it come to market for Wednesday. I get a call from CSS saying all showings were cancelled because someone accidentally broke the key in the lock.  Listing agent says hes going to get a locksmith out there to replace the lock, should be viewable again by Fridya (after the Thanksgiving Holiday). Well today on Thursday it goes under contract.

It is now clear to me that someone likely intentionally broke the key off in the lock. So do I just let this go....or do I make an issue out of this.  I of course am incredibly upset, and I expect my client to be very upset.  So what would you all do?

Bud, I feel your pain, but how are you ever going to prove your claim?  In the event you feel you have to say something to someone be very careful you give your statement or written verbage as your opinion.  If you directly accuse someone of an illegal or immoral act without evidence you could open yourself to libel or slander suits.  You can give an opinion, you can do it by innuendo, but do not make a statement you claim to be fact.  Good luck

What would you do?  You seem to be making many assumptions and don't have all the facts.  You're not even certain it was a "hot property".  It's disappointing but that's life. 

If it's any consolation, if they paid a locksmith to replace the entire lock rather than just extract the key, they got ripped off.  :)

Happy Thanksgiving!  

Well thats one way to beat someone to the deal .  Now if someone broke off the key from the lock box , I can see that maybe being an accident , but I would bet that its another key that was broke off in the lock .  

Art, I know it was going to be a hot property. It's in one of the hottest neighborhoods in a hot market, priced 75k under market value to cause a bidding war.

Originally posted by @Russell Brazil :

Art, I know it was going to be a hot property. It's in one of the hottest neighborhoods in a hot market, priced 75k under market value to cause a bidding war.

"I had a showing set up, one what I suspect was going to be a very hot property."

I was just going by what you said.   

if there was a electronic lock box you can see who did the last showing ( have to ask listing agent) but it would prove nothing, I have had this happen before your  only recourse write up your best offer to lock down the property it is usually done by the buyer to prevent other offers 

I'm just clarifying. For those in the DC area, it was in Trinidad if anyone is curious.

I emailed the buying agent to ask if her buyer was actually able to see the inside, or if they wrote the offer site unseen.  It's possible they wrote a site unseen offer, but I'm guessing they didnt. If this property doesn't close $100k over asking, then the listing agent will have done a disservice to his client, by not allowing what I'm sure would have been at least 25 interested buyers to view the property before accepting an offer.

On one hand I say it isn't worth your time and to move on to the next deal, but on the other, this is NOT acceptable behavior if what you say is true. 

I'd be looking to see who the selling agent is after it closes. Does your MLS show that info? If the listing agent double ended it or someone in his office, then there might be an issue.

If you thought it was hot, you should have got your client in the car, drove it and written an offer subject to an inspection.  It would at least have gotten your client into the deal. A ton of assumptions get made with a lot of these BP postings.  You wrote that it was done to create a bidding war....obviously not if it's under contract already! Did you offer to drive out to meet the listing agent to get akey to another door....or was there only one way into the place? Who are you going to complain to and, who, aside from us here at BP is going to care?  Instead of whining, get creative and find the next deal.

As investors, we deal with all kinds of schenanigans....people take keys all the time out of private lockboxes, listing agents already have a contract with an inside buyer (Reo agents are notorious for this), agents call for highest & best when they only have one offer...yours!  All kinds of stuff.  In ever market, it often comes down to networking and relationships...build those and you will have fewer problems.  

@Andy Luick The 2 places to complain to would be the buying agents broker, and the real estate commission. If the buying agent helped or had knowledge of someone intentionally breaking the lock to prevent showings, then this could lead to a $15k fine, suspension or revocation of license. Yes it may be impossible to prove, but if someone else has complained about a similar situation on another property with them, then that is the ball game. Also when I posted, I was pretty angry, Ive calmed down a bit...but that doesnt mean my buyer doesnt complaint to the real estate commission or their broker. An offer with a contingent home inspection would not have been accepted on this property. Our strategy likely would have been an offer contingent on financing only with an escalation clause going $10k above any other offer up to whatever amount we decided on.  We likely would have needed the escalation to be a significant amount like $10k, to make it attractive over an all cash offer.

@Matt M. my MLS lists who the buying agent is as soon as a contract is accepted. Im obviously going to be in touch with that buying agent to find out if they wrote their offer site unseen, or if they gained entry to the property. I will most likely just move on....it is just very frustrating to run into this type of behavior.

@JD Martin I would just be moving on and looking for the next deal if I was the buyer. Actually if I were buying this, I would have made a site unseen all cash offer on the place. Since it was for a client of mine, I am much more angry...but there really isnt anything I can do about it, so we will move on and look for the next property.

So you're concerned with your own client filing a complaint against you with your broker or the commission?  Get better clients!  I doubt very much that the commission in any state would ever even hear the complaint.  Maybe if there was a pattern with either the selling or listing agent...but who is going to trace that?  In the almost 30 years I've been investing and looking at properties, I have only once had a key jammed in a lock.  It was townhouse with only one entry door for outside access and we had to wait for a key.

Here, if your client wanted it and you explained to them that they could submit an offer and be creative about it....and they decided to wait....snooze you lose.  It also depends on the agency agreement you have with the client.  Hopefully, it will help you get this particular client to make a fast decision on the next deal.  Good luck out there.

Yes, I've seen this happen.  Obviously, the listing agent screwed his seller, as it wasn't available to everyone.  Have you made sure the seller is aware of this?  This happened to me but I able to find "another way" in, that was of course broken/ajar before I got there.

There is one BIG point that never seemed to be addressed in the comments;

"The Selling Agent told you he would have a locksmith out there Friday"  If he/she was a good agent he/she must have a 2nd key for the property, why didn't he/she place a lock box on the alternate door with the secondary entrance key. 

But now the property is UAG Under Agreement?  This point is fuzzy.  How many days was this property on the market?  If less than a week it may be a Pocket Listing that the agent wanted credit for selling.

But this is all assumption.   Me, I would move on.  

There are all sorts of nasty tactics that are used to make a listing unviewable - the one mentioned in the OP, the removal of the key from the lockbox, changing the lockbox combination, etc.  Just the way some less ethical people operate; you can't instill ethics into these people either, unfortunately.