• Traditional lockboxes are being targeted by technology developers and traditional lock manufacturers.

Have suggestions for products that you’d like to see reviewed by our real estate technology expert? Email Craig Rowe.

Master Lock has proven it’s tough under fire, but is it tough enough to withstand the scrutiny of the real estate industry? We’ll soon find out.

Master Lock recently announced the launch of its new Bluetooth Lock Box, which “allows users to grant access to their property at anytime from anywhere through the use of their smartphone device,” the company said. The product, available in a portable ($172.50) and wall-mount ($162.50) version, is targeted at real estate agents and landlords and those who offer their home via sites like VRBO and Airbnb.

The lockbox sports a range of access features that are powered by its free eLocks app for iPhone and Android. Users can provide access through temporary codes through the app or give manual codes to be punched in.

There are also administrative features that allow lock owners to track who’s registered for access, deleted guests, and who actually used their access and when. Lock owners are also notified when the device is re-locked, which I find to be the most important security concern within the access process.

Master Lock Bluetooth Lock Box – portable version

The lockbox app also notifies users if the battery is low and how many times a person has tried to open a lock unsuccessfully.

Master Lock Bluetooth Lock Box – wall mount version

Other competitors in the digital lockbox space include Toor, an app-animated key storage device and communication tool that shares notes, notifications, showing instructions and alerts with buyers and sellers; and Prempoint, an app that integrates with Schlage smart locks. All of them make it possible to show homes without a representative from a real estate agency present.

While the Bluetooth-enabled Master Lock isn’t quite as sleek and contemporary as Toor, its utilitarian digital keypads and brushed metal block design certainly communicate the industrial strength that has come to characterize the lock company. Alaska and North Dakota agents take note: The company also claims their new product is weather-resistant down to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Master Lock Bluetooth Lock Box — portable version, door view

Master Lock isn’t pushing this device as some sort of “disruption” or attempt to undermine agent-led showings. Instead, this is merely a sharp, common sense entry into the seemingly fast-growing market of property access.

But despite the proliferation of digital lockboxes — and innovation on this front coming from an old guard, traditional lock maker — how the convenience of digital lockboxes, agent concerns surrounding security and MLS regulations will shake out is yet to be determined.

Some multiple listing service (MLS) rules may restrict the conditions under which agents can provide lockbox codes to clients, if the practice is permitted at all. At least one MLS requires a buyer’s agent to be physically present for all showings unless expressed written consent has been provided by a listing agent or seller.

“With growing demand for more connected mobile security solutions in the market, we saw an opportunity to deliver an advanced lock box that meets the needs of today’s on-the-go consumer,” said Barron Robertson, group product manager at Master Lock, in a statement. “Whether you’re a real estate professional giving access to agents for property showings, a homeowner in the middle of remodeling or a host granting entry into a vacation rental property, users of the Master Lock Bluetooth Lock Box can share access to property and monitor who is entering it and at what time, providing peace of mind for property owners.”

Toor lockbox

I see this as an efficient way to better manage key sharing for those not yet comfortable with Toor’s robust tour management features.

Master Lock Bluetooth locks are pricer than Toor’s (now $99), but do come with the peace-of-mind of being produced by a nearly 100-year-old company with a long-standing reputation in the security industry.

Have suggestions for products that you’d like to see reviewed by our real estate technology expert? Email Craig Rowe.

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