Keys to Success!

Hardly a day goes by that I don’t receive e mail invitations or cold call solicitations offering “keys” to real estate success.  Comes with the turf.  Seven Key Secrets. Five Key Ingredients. Three Key Tricks of the Trade.  The Keys to the Kingdom of Everlasting Happiness and Unfettered Joy. The kind only money can buy.

Being a devout contrarian, destined to always suck-up to a different paradigm, I’m low-key about these keys people are peddling. Specially in a marketplace where so many Friedman-types are reverting to Key-nesian principals.

For me, real estate success begins with the simplest of keys. The one that unlocks the front door and lets me in. Literally.  A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.  Can’t show the house? Can’t sell it.

So think keys. Single Sided. Double Sided. Master. Lots of keys. Realtors handle more keys than any executive-level custodial engineer in the cosmos does.

Our relationship with keys is complex.  Love ’em.  Hate ’em.  After more than two decades in the biz, I’m convinced that  Coyote Trickster is the Patron Saint of Keys.  Makes sense. When you are constantly opening new doors into other worlds there’s  bound to be a few unexpected twists and turns along the way.

Here are a few thoughts culled from my own key experiences..

Remember those old style lockboxes?  I don’t miss them but do think fondly of them. Big clunky metal things. Manual rather than digital.  Dinosaurs by today’s sleek-geek standards.

They had numbered tumblers that rolled into place so you could stick a flimsy skeleton key in and retrieve the house key. Fake rock hide-a-key devices for agents.  Of course, every time the automatic sprinkler system went awry they’d rust up and freeze. WD-40 was an integral part of every agent’s survival kit.  We were often up the creek though when one of those cheap-o skeleton keys broke off in the slot.

These days we’ve evolved from “lockboxes” to digital, infrared ” keysafes”. A vast improvement. But in this era of distressed real estate, we are also seeing the reemergence of even older-style combo lockboxes that surely had their roots in medieval torture chambers.

Remember?  The shame and sheer panic you felt when you couldn’t get the combination on your high school locker to work as the bell was ringing?  One turn to the left? Two back to the right?  Holding your breath as clumsy fingers went back one more time to the left?

Try doing that when your livelihood depends on it.  After months of therapy to get over my imbedded fear of combination locks, I can open them like a champ now.   Even when anxious clients are staring over my shoulder.   And you wonder why we get the big bucks.

Then there are the hanging chads. The bane of  Realtor existence.  Those little oval label tags attached to too many keys that get jammed back up into the box.  Good luck when they get stuck inside like a piece of silverware in your dishwasher. You’re not going to get that secure keysafe open.  Pound it with a sledge hammer.  Drive over it. Toss it into a gorilla cage like a piece of luggage. It isn’t going to open.

Unclear Proliferation is when the number of keys in any given keysafe exceeds critical mass and the Agent’s head explodes. Nine different keys in one tiny key container. Deadbolt. Doorknob. Masterlock on the garage. Individual keys for each bedroom. Odd keys to all those special “bonus” spaces (wink-wink.)

Over time, Realtors learn the delicate art of futzing with ill-fitting keys. The most experienced can take the rejects that teenagers make in the hardware stores and jiggle them to success in lock mechanisms with the skill of a cat burglar.

There’s no worse feeling as an agent than showing twelve properties in the same day, handling twelve different keys, coming home and realizing that you still have one odd key left in your pocket without a clue as to which property it came from.

What do we Realtors really want?  We want a turnkey key system. We  hate to look stupid in front of our clients. And if we haven’t run out of gas on the way to the property. or gotten lost, we just want to be able to find the key safe when we get there. Don’t hide it in the bushes. Or on the side door. Which side?  Left side? Or my other left?

The Future of House Keys?   Retina Scans. Realtors will go to the front door put their eyes up to the peephole and voila.  Or a Voice Activated I Phone App.  Popeye’s pre-programmed voice saying “Open Sez’ Me!”


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