**The views expressed in this post are solely my own and may not reflect the views of the Fredericksburg Area Association of Realtors. FAAR has established a workgroup to look at options for the upcoming Supra Contract renewal. If you have an opinion, please email the Association so that they can forward that information to the Lockbox Workgroup.**
Sometime before the end of the year the Fredericksburg Area Association of REALTORS will be faced with the decision to stay with our current Supra Lockbox system which is owned by GE, or Sentriock which is owned by NAR. Change is rarely received well and the Board of Directors must consider many, many issues with this decision. Current membership polls have shown a majority of members (who took the survey) would like to stay with the current Supra system. Some members, mainly those who serve clients in the northern part of our market area, would like to convert to Sentrilock.
There are some concerns with the cost of a new system. I’m not sure of the contractual issues for the Association, but for the individual members the cost of changing should be nominal if history repeats itself. The Associations who changed lockbox systems were able to get an one-for-one exchange on their equipment.
I’ve recently purchased both a Supra and Sentrilock key system and here were my costs:
Supra (thru FAAR) was $214 for the cradle, key and annual service fee.
Sentrilock (thru PWAR) was $250, $70 of that was for the card reader, which is evidentially sold separately from the key and service.
Lockboxes are around the $100 mark for either system. Although I believe that FAAR still has some used boxes at half that price.
Some have voiced concerns over the hassle of a conversion process. To me that is a short-sighted argument, in that extent of the other areas conversion was one day to go in, take an orientation and grab your new key. Outside of that would be the time to gather and replace the existing lockboxes. This is a one or two day hassle, so not a variable to a big picture decision, in my opinion.
Comparative Benefits – Supra
Supra has been a strong system in our area for many years. I’ve had little to no failure of any part of the system. Here is a list of my personal opinions on the Pro’s and Con’s of the Supra system:
- GE is a strong appliance company with a long history of innovation
- The system is easy to use and familiar to most local agents
- GE has been responsive to the needs of the Association
- I’ve never had a system failure
- The new key (to be issues upon contract renewal) will be wireless and updated by cell phone towers
- The new key will have an agent distress button and flashlight
- Only people who have lockbox keys will be able to enter homes
- The new key will also send immediate updates to the Lister upon access
- Supports SmartPhones with infra-red devices
- Boxes are durable and release the key quickly
- Support for Blackberry is severally lacking. The use of any Smartphone is an additional fee and doesn’t provide a lot of additional features. The Blackberry requires another independent device, which defeats the purpose of a convergence service.
- My experience with Supra’s web service hasn’t been good. The website is a bit flaky.
- The USB cradle is a pain to get to work and not always reliable.
- If your key isn’t synced you have to seek out a cradle or call a number with an extensive phone menu.
- The key (both old and new) is bulky and leaves me with one more thing to break or forget somewhere.
- The new key has been available for the past two years and wasn’t released to FAAR, except for beta testing. My concern is that our membership will not be provided with new innovations until contract renewal. Additionally, I understand that there will be an slight fee increase with the new device.
Comparative Benefits – SentriLock
Sentrilock is the new kid in town, and whereas I haven’t personally had any issues with it, the heavy users have had some concerns. The second hand information I’ve received have been concerns with viruses being transferred (reported to no longer be an issue) and issues with random boxes not recognizing the cards. Again…those are issues that I haven’t yet experienced.
- In heavy use by surrounding Associations with a portion of local market share
- Sentrilock has invested time and effort in engaging agents in Twitter, Facebook and they have developed a library of “how-to” videos on YouTube. This shows me an effort to engage their consumers (Realtors) and an ability to use progressive tools. (If Supra has these tools, I couldn’t find them)
- Support for Mac users (this is big for me…)
- Easy to use update system
- Credit Card type entrance key that is easy to carry and maintain
- “Cradle” for the card is a very lightweight / portable card reader that I can carry in my laptop bag, so that updating my card can be done anywhere. This eliminates the bulky cradle or need for a telephone line.
- The user control and interaction on the website is easy and feature-rich.
- The entry card would not need to be charged with power each day, unlike Supra
- The biggest problem I have with Sentrilock is their lockboxes. The boxes are bulky and sluggish for entry.
- The Sentrilock boxes have a “One Day Code” feature, which I’ve added to the Con list because I don’t believe that agents will truly vet the person calling for an entry key. Anyone can go to DPOR and grab the name of an active agent… (We’ll address ways to make this box safe in another post) The “One Day Code” feature makes this expensive system little more than a combo box.
- The cost of this system is a bit higher than Supra
- The additional fee for the Card Reader is excessive. Similar readers are sold for $20 online and various other locations.
- There will be some cost to the Association to covert and that means dues money will most likely need be used.
- Reported system failures while trying to access boxes
- Company is still fairly new and hasn’t shown the corporate history of GE
This is of course, not an exhaustive list, but rather a good starting point for conversation.
Ultimately, the things I like about Sentrilock (Online interface and engagement, Mac support etc…) can easily be done by Supra. My only real contention is having to wait for contract renewal to get better products or services that Supra may have to offer. This may be a consideration that can be explored as the Workgroup looks at benefits to either service.
For now, we’re in a two-box system. Professionals who have an extended market area reach will need to pay the extra $170 (estimate) a year to sell properties regionally instead of in locally. It’s a small cost of doing business for the ability to provided extended services.
Almost everyone that I have talked to about the upcoming conversion has strong feelings. Sharing those feelings with your Brokers and the Association would be helpful to those chosen to make the final decision.Tweet