I received a call from a new agent with his first transaction in escrow asking if it is okay to give the keys to the buyers so they could take measurements. He thought if he said no it would sound like he didn't trust them.
My answer was: Absolutely not! Do not do it. For one thing, an open escrow is not a sold property. A closed escrow is the goal, but it is not always the end result of every one that opens.
When I represent buyers, they often ask me for the keys, assuring me that their escrow will close and it will all be okay. I politely demur, and let them know that I will escort them into the house and wait while they are there. We need to make sure that buyers understand that it is not a personal attack on their trustworthiness, but is simply something we cannot do.
When I am the listing agent, I owe a duty to the seller to protect their property when they entrust me with their key. It is my general rule that there is also no exchange of keys at the closing table. The keys are provided when I am notified that the sale has recorded. It is then that the buyers legally own the property and not before.
If the seller asks me to give the keys sooner than that, I will ask them to sign a release to that effect and honor their wishes, but I advise them against it.
One time my seller and I thought all was done, and the docs had all been signed, but then it was learned that the buyers' bank had not yet wired the balance of the down payment to escrow, and there was a glitch when an outstanding check was processed that made the wire transfer from that account impossible for the full amount.
The buyer had to go out and get the balance of the down payment in cash from another source, so the recording didn't occur for another week. If I had turned over the keys and he hadn't been able to bring in those funds, the buyers would be in a home that the sellers still owned. Bad news!
And as for letting the buyers in "just to measure" or whatever, unless the agent will stay with them while they are there (I have done this on many occasions with my buyers), no agent should "loan" the keys to a party. That is simply a bad idea for any number of reasons and is in direct violation of our MLS Rules.
MLS RULE - 13.6 Listing Brokers Permission
MLS Rules require a MetroList Participant or Subscriber be present whenever providing access to a listed property.
A property is considered "Listed" up until the time the listing agreement has terminated or the transfer of title has taken place. You must get permission from the Seller before providing access to individuals if you (MetroList Participant/Subscriber) cannot be present on the property for the entire time. Do not take keys from a lock box and pass them to buyers waiting to close or trades people wishing to start work without the Seller or Listing Brokers prior permission. Violations can result in fines up to $15,000.
Bottom line: Having access to the keys to someone's property is a privilege that is entrusted to you and you are responsible for them. Do not take that lightly.
Broker / Realtor
Century 21 Noel David Realty
Fair Oaks, California
Full time real estate services in Fair Oaks CA, with friendly professionalism, 30+ years experience.
I work hard to give my buyer or seller a low-stress
"Happy clients make me happy."