We recently received a letter from the Bullhead City/ Mohave Valley Association of REALTORS® informing us that a new rule had been put into place. ALL listings MUST have an ASSOCIATION lockbox installed.* I put the asterisk there to indicate that if a seller refuses to have a lockbox on their property, they can a.) state in writing that they do not want one and b.) not have any other lockbox on their property (e.g. contractors lockbox), and still avoid incurring fines. The lockbox vendor (GE) has been aggressively pushing this policy among many MLS’s. It not only will cause more lockboxes to be purchased by agents, it will stifle any threat of competing lockboxes in those MLS areas, be it mechancial lockboxes or other electronic systems. For instance, if one brokerage wanted to use a safe, competing electronic lockbox that only their agents could utilize, or if a group of luxury agents wanted to utilize their own private lockbox system, they would face fines.
We will comply with this and other rules. We don’t really flinch when new rules like these are passed, we just adapt and continue to sell properties. It is interesting, however, to see how companies like GE are able to tap into the local MLS monopoly and generate tons of money. An agent in Bullhead City, Kingman, or Lake Havasu City, cannot say, “This rule is unfair,” and then quit the MLS. They would be out-of-business, completely unable to sell residential real estate in Mohave County. The MLS is so powerful that it has a degree of control over many aspects of the agent’s business (in this case, property access and lockboxes).
As a seller, this is just a demonstration of the MLS’s power in selling homes. A seller should tap into this medium and take advantage of it, rather than fight it. Just as you may not have liked the power Microsoft exhibited over the PC business when they were exhibiting what some would argue were monopoly-like forces, it still would have been wise to learn its products since most employers were utilizing them. Over time, there may emerge competitors like Linux that provide an alternative, however, in residential real estate, this is many, many years away in my opinion.