Forgetting the MLS Key Really Stinks

No doubt every Austin Realtor has forgotten – or almost forgotten the electronic MLS key when showing a property. That really stinks when it happens. Me and Sylvia are still old school and carry around these horrible devices. The alternative would be to use an iPhone app that requires a small infrared stick that plugs into the bottom of the iPhone. The problem with that is if you lose your iPhone, or the battery goes low, you’ve also lost your MLS key.  I’d rather spread the risk to separate devices. I also don’t want to have the tiny plugin stick to keep track of or junking up my key ring.

Anyway, I drove way up northwest by the lake today, past Lakeway, to show some buyers who had driven up from Corpus Christi to meet me at a house. This was a 45 minute drive from my house. About 15 minutes away I realized I left my MLS key laying on my desk, where it had been charging.

I quickly assessed the options in my head while not panicking, but almost panicking. I checked the listing agent on the MLS printout and noticed it was a KW agent in Lakeway. I just happened to be on 620 not far from the KW office.

I called the agent and got ahold of the assistant. “I’m on my way to show your listing on {Street name} and left my MLS key at home. Is there a combo box on the property or is the MLS box the only way in?”, I asked cheerfully, keeping my optimism high. “No”, the well informed assistant told me, “there is no combo box”.

“OK”, I said. “Do you have a spare key in the office that I could come by and pick up? I’m not far from you” . There was no spare key either.

I was now about 12 minutes away. I could either:

a) Turn around and know for sure that although I’d be terribly late arriving (like, 75 minutes late), I could call and ask the client to go get lunch and show up later for the appointment.

b) Show up on time and deal with it, knowing I might not be able to get in.

c) Call a Realtor friend close by and beg them to meet me there.

I’ve always been lucky. I decide to give myself a chance to get lucky and proceeded to the appointment to face the music. I’d just have to figure out a way to get inside.

Showing up, the clients’ vehicle was there but they were nowhere to be seen. They were walking around in back I guessed. It was a big lot. I headed to the front door and tried the doorknob. No luck. I checked under the mat. No key. I ran my hand across the top of the trim above the door. No key. I looked around the porch for a nearby rock. There was one to the right, in the dirt next to the porch. A nice small flat one about 6 inches wide and looking completely out of place. Underneath there was a key. I tried it and it opened the door. Then I went and hunted around for my clients.

Disaster averted. I already had my script worked out. “I’m sorry but I forgot my MLS key. Have you guys had lunch yet? Let me buy you lunch at a great place down the road while I run and get my key. It will take me about an hour and a half”. Luckily, I didn’t have to make the embarrassing confession or the offer.

I’ve had agents call me from our listings when they’ve forgotten their MLS key. We usually also have a combo box on vacant listings, but not occupied ones. A few agents have been saved by that, and by having me luckily answer when they called (our office line rings simultaneous to our cell phones).

Once I showed a house and saw another agent’s MLS key laying there on the counter, but the people and the agent were long gone. Woops. Bet they didn’t get far. That would suck. I had no way of doing anything with it so I left it on the front porch and assume the agent came back and was grateful to find it mysteriously laying there. She would have had no way to go inside to get it had I not left it outside.

Even if you don’t forget the MLS Key, the battery can drain and it becomes unusable. These devices of ours really have us. Without them we’re helpless as Realtors. I don’t experience malfunctions that often, but I’ve heard about agents who have suddenly been unable to open a lockbox with a key, for no explainable reason. I heard one griping about it at the Board of Realtors office a few months ago.

But the moral of the story is about luck. I’ve been very lucky in life because I give luck a chance to happen. That often requires a leap of faith, and the ability to just trust that things will somehow work out. Think about that. If I had turned around and went to get my key, and called the clients with an apology that I was going to be late, I would have guaranteed myself a bad outcome, though a more predictable one.

Buyers often foreclose on the opportunity for luck by ruling homes out. Not making that lowball offer. Not loosening up the search criteria a bit. Or ruling out homes just based on internet photos, which can be very deceiving. As humans, the more we make ourselves available to be lucky, the more likely it is luck will bump into us, as it did me today.


4 thoughts on “Forgetting the MLS Key Really Stinks”

  1. Great post, Steve. I laughed about you looking under the rock out of place – I didn’t think people in Texas still did that 🙂
    I love your life lesson at the end. I would have turned around and been horribly late for the appointment, rather than chancing the outcome on being able to find another solution to the problem, as you did. Great lesson – I’ll have to try it next time I’m in a sticky spot.

  2. Wow, you REALLY lucked out! There was one time I forgot my ekey so I called the listing agent to see if there was a spare key or combo box somewhere on the property. Turned out she lived right around the corner, so she came over and unlocked the door for us. 🙂

  3. Sounds like you and any other intruder picked the right house. ; )
    My Mom is a Realtor and she lives in her car and is always going in a million different directions, so I know that there is no extra time in the day for random happenings. Glad you lucked out…. or “in” I guess I should say.


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