Bluetooth Lockboxes, Best Practices for REALTORS®: Ask Technical Terry

Bluetooth Lockboxes, Best Practices for REALTORS®: Ask Technical Terry

Ask Technical Terry is a series RMLS™ aims to offer once a month. RMLS™ subscribers will drive the content—submit any question about RMLS™ to Technical Terry in the comments or by emailing Don’t be shy—we won’t identify you by name.

Dear Technical Terry,

I’m a recent transplant to the Pacific Northwest. I was also a REALTOR® back in Atlanta and our MLS often gave us good, common sense tips about being a REALTOR®. Does RMLS™ do anything like that? As I’ve been reading some local chatter online, it seems like there is a real need for something like this!

Ethical Earlene in Estacada

Dear Earlene-

Your timing couldn’t be better—RMLS™ just released a new document called Best Practices, Courteousness, and Great Tips for REALTORS®!

I hope you will find the new document helpful in your day-to-day activities as a REALTOR® in our market. While reading through the document you may find that some of the items are common sense or we’ve listed things you think every REALTOR® should already know. What I know from watching our industry for many years is that things that are logical to you or me may not be to others.

RMLS™ has always believed that education is the best way to create a predictable and ethical working environment for our subscribers, and we’re hopeful that the new document will assist in doing that.

Technical Terry


Dear TT:

One of my coworkers claims that RMLS™ is going to be converting to a SentriLock lockbox that uses Bluetooth. When I asked him when it would happen, he didn’t know. Can you tell me about this? And why would we be swapping out our SentriLock lockboxes already—didn’t we just get these?

Imin U. Gene

Dear IUG:

The reason your coworker cannot give you a date is this: there isn’t one to give! The RMLS™ Board of Directors has discussed the possibility of doing a conversion to SentriLock’s Bluetooth lockboxes but nothing firm has been decided yet. Your view that we “just” transitioned to SentriLock NXT lockboxes is only partly true—it has been 4.5 years since we did our most recent conversion!

In fact, here are a few fun facts about SentriLock at RMLS™:

  • Lockboxes currently in distribution at RMLS™: 56,450
  • RMLS™ lockboxes per active/pending listing: 3.64 per listing
  • Lockboxes per active RMLS™ subscriber: 4.04 per subscriber

That being said, the new SentriLock Bluetooth lockboxes really do offer a lot compared with the NXT lockbox. Two of the biggest benefits are that the lockbox can be opened via the SentriSmart™ app on your smartphone even when you’re out of cell range, as it uses Bluetooth instead of cellular; and many of the lockbox programming functions can be performed using SentriSmart™ instead of your SentriCard®. (If you haven’t started using SentriSmart™ yet, get it on the Apple App Store or Google Play!)

If you have a lockbox that has suffered battery failure, you can simply plug in a “battery jumper pack” into the side of the Bluetooth lockbox to provide the power for it to open. If you’ve ever needed to use the Power Paddle to get an NXT lockbox open after its batteries have died, you’ll realize what a benefit this is!

If this project moves forward, we’ll surely inform RMLS™ subscribers through the RMLSweb desktop page, the RMLS™ Weekly Report, and our blog on RMLScentral. Keep your eyes toward us!

Technical Terry



Bluetooth Lockboxes, Best Practices for REALTORS®: Ask Technical Terry

Ask Technical Terry: SentriLock Battery Questions


Ask Technical Terry is a series RMLS™ aims to offer once a month. RMLS™ subscribers will drive the content—submit any question about RMLS™ to Technical Terry in the comments or by emailing Don’t be shy—we won’t identify you by name.

Dear Technical Terry:

Today I received an email about my SentriLock lockbox battery being low. What do I do?

Vanessa Volta

Well Vanessa, one of the many advantages of the SentriLock system is that you have the ability to change lockbox batteries yourself. Changing the batteries is as simple as opening the lockbox, removing the battery cover with a Phillips screwdriver, and switching out the two CR123A lithium batteries with a fresh pair.

TIP: One RMLS™ staff member suggests inserting a card in the lockbox before replacing the battery cover. If the box lights up, the batteries are in correctly and you may proceed with confidence.

Not enough power to open the lockbox? If the batteries have completely died, RMLS™ can loan you a “power paddle,” which will provide just enough power to open the lockbox for the purpose of changing the batteries.


Dear Technical Terry…

The person who sold me a lockbox last week suggested replacing the battery every two years to avoid extra work when my lockbox is on a listing and the battery gets low. But I have five lockboxes! How am I supposed to remember when to replace the battery in each one?

June Bugg

It so happens, June, there’s a great tool on the SentriLock website that can help you keep tabs on your lockbox batteries.

SentriLock My Lockboxes

Insert your SentriCard® into your card reader and log in to the SentriLock website. Then click on the “My Lockboxes” tab (above).

SentriLock Serial Number

Locate the lockbox you replaced your batteries in, clicking on the serial number link (above). [Take note of the column that says “Last Battery Replacement.” That’s the information we’re going to update!] Clicking the serial number of the lockbox in question will open the management screen for that particular lockbox.

SentriLock Edit Lockbox

Locate the battery replacement section of this screen (above). Use the calendar to change the date you replaced the batteries. If you changed the battery on that same day, click “Battery Changed Today” and the field will fill in today’s date. Don’t forget to click the save button at the bottom!

SentriLock Preferences

Back on the main screen, view your preferences to confirm you have the SentriLock system set to send low battery notifications.

SentriLock Edit Preferences

Click the box if it isn’t already checked, then click the save button.

There you have it! A central location to keep track of when you last changed your SentriLock batteries.


Technical Terry-

In January I visited one of my Pendleton listings and the MESSAGE light came on when I was opening the lockbox. I swear I had just changed the batteries! Does the lockbox go through batteries faster in cold weather or something?

Harry in Hermiston

Your instincts were close, HH. When you’ve inserted your card into a lockbox and the MESSAGE light flashes at you, it usually means the battery is low.

If the battery is less than two years old and you’re in freezing temperatures (say, in Pendleton in January), you might see the MESSAGE light flash then too. Just keep your SentriCard® in the lockbox until the CODE light appears. Then enter your PIN and press ENT. (If you’ve used your SentriCard® to access the lockbox, don’t forget to update it in the card reader as soon as possible afterward!)

If you’re concerned about lengthening the life of your lockbox battery, SentriLock recommends the following:

Store your lockboxes away from heat sources. Leaving your lockbox on your car’s dashboard in July is not a great idea.

Remove your SentriCard® from the card slot. Use the SentriCard® to program and potentially access your lockboxes. The SentriCard® should not be stored in a lockbox slot.

Lock the keypad when the lockbox is not on a listing. Let’s say your lockbox is inside your car and something heavy lands on it—power will be used to activate the keypad. When the lockbox is not in use, why deplete the battery this way? You can lock the keypad manually by inserting your SentriCard®, entering your PIN, then when the READY light displays, press FUNC+6+7+ENT.

Tweak your default lockbox settings on the SentriLock website. When programming your lockboxes using the SentriLock website, check the box marked Auto Lock Keypad on Shackle Release which appears on the Agent Default Lockbox Settings or Custom Lockbox Settings windows.

Just remember on this last tip, users will need to unlock the keypad before trying to open the box! This can be done by inserting any sort of card—SentriCard®, business card, or driver’s license—into the slot.

I don’t envy you, Harry, doing those January showings in Eastern Oregon. Now you have the knowledge to make sure those batteries can go as far as you’re going for your clients!

Bluetooth Lockboxes, Best Practices for REALTORS®: Ask Technical Terry

Ask Technical Terry: SentriLock Codes


Ask Technical Terry is a series RMLS™ aims to offer once a month. RMLS™ subscribers will drive the content—submit any question about RMLS™ to Technical Terry in the comments or by emailing Don’t be shy—we won’t identify you by name.

Technical Terry,

I’ve heard my fellow REALTORS® talking about access codes for the SentriLock system that they can give to contractors or fellow REALTORS®. I have no idea what they’re saying! Can you explain what they’re talking about?

Sincerely Yours,
Lost in Lockbox Land

Thanks for reaching out to us, Lost. Of course I can explain what they’re talking about!

The SentriLock lockbox system provides a few ways to open a lockbox using codes that you can generate yourself. I’ll explain the codes and who can use each.

First are codes that can be generated by RMLS™ subscribers using the SentriSmart™ app. SentriSmart™ Mobile Access Codes (SMACs) are generated by using the SentriSmart™ app on a smartphone instead of using your SentriCard®. Never give a SMAC to anyone—this is like giving out your SentriCard® and is subject to the same rules and sanctions.

The other type of codes are generated by the owner of a lockbox.

One of these codes is the one day code. These can only be generated by the lockbox owner. The one day code will only work for a limited period of time—one hour from the time the code is initially used to open the lockbox.

A contractor code is used to allow access to someone with whom you and the homeowner have agreed can gain access to the property. This code can also be generated using SentriSmart™, by using the SentriLock website, or by calling SentriLock.

The big difference between using a one day code and a contractor code is that a contractor code can be used any day, over and over, as long as it falls within the access times programmed into the lockbox.


Now you’ve got the concept…how do you generate codes?

One Day Codes
One day codes can be created the following ways:

• using the SentriCard® Utility or the SentriLock website.
• using the SentriLock Card Authorization Renewal System (CARS) by calling (513) 618-5800.
• using SentriSmart™.
• by contacting SentriLock technical support.

Contractor Codes
First, contractor mode must be enabled on your lockbox for contractor codes to work. Lockbox owners are assigned three contractor codes for use, and these codes will work indefinitely as long as contractor mode is active on the lockbox.

When you turn on contractor mode, anyone with the lockbox’s contractor codes can use them to open the key compartment without a SentriCard®.

How to Turn on Contractor Mode
1. Insert your SentriCard® into the lockbox. Wait until the CODE light displays, then press your PIN and Enter.
2. After the READY light comes on, press FUNC + 6 + 1 and Enter. If you would like to turn contractor mode off, enter FUNC + 6 + 0 and Enter.
3. Remove your SentriCard® from the lockbox.

You can use the SentriCard® Utility or SentriLock website to find a lockbox’s contractor codes.

How to Find Your Contractor Codes using the SentriLock Website
1. Use the SentriCard® utility to log in to the SentriLock website. Insert your SentriCard® into the reader attached to your computer. The SentriCard® Utility should display the login window with your SentriLock ID appearing automatically. Type your password in and log in to access the main menu.
2. Click My Lockboxes. On the Lockboxes window, click the serial number of the lockbox.
3. On the Edit Lockbox window, click Default Lockbox Settings or Custom Lockbox Settings.
4. The Contractor Code fields on the Default Lockbox Settings or Custom Lockbox Settings windows will display the contractor codes for the lockbox you selected from the Lockboxes window.

One more (important) thing—your brokerage may have policies about the use of one day and contractor codes. Before you start using either, be aware of your company’s policies!

Have we helped you find your way, Lost in Lockbox Land? If you have trouble with SentriLock lockbox codes or have other questions, SentriLock technical support is the best resource for SentriLock issues. The RMLS™ Help Desk is happy to answer lockbox questions as well.


Bluetooth Lockboxes, Best Practices for REALTORS®: Ask Technical Terry

Ask Technical Terry: More on SentriLock Notifications, Creating a Watch List


Ask Technical Terry is a series RMLS™ aims to offer once a month. RMLS™ subscribers will drive the content—submit any question about RMLS™ to Technical Terry in the comments or by emailing Don’t be shy—we won’t identify you by name.

Hey Technical Terry,

Something still confuses me about SentriLock: why do we have to wait for the buyer’s agent’s SentriCard®, phone, or RAD to find out about showing notifications, rather than the lockbox giving us notifications like the previous RMLS™ lockbox system?

Carl in Coburg

Thanks for the great question, Carl! In order for a lockbox system to send out showing notifications, it must have some form of cellular radio component. Both the SentriLock and Supra systems use similar technology in respect to this functionality: both systems rely on a cellular radio component that is not contained within the lockbox itself, but rather a secondary device. This could be the RAD, using the SentriSmart™ app on your cell phone, or inserting your SentriCard® into the desktop reader connected to a computer. While the perception remains that the Supra system worked differently in this area than the SentriLock system, they are actually quite similar.

Technical Terry—

HELP! I’m desperate to create a watch list of specific MLS numbers to keep my eye on. Is there a way on RMLSweb to save a list of MLS numbers?

Big Barry is Watching

You’ve got the will to do it, and we’ve got the way, Barry.

Keep your eye on a particular group of listings by following these steps:
• Create and run a search on RMLSweb.
• When on the results page, simply ‘check’ the listings you want to save.
• Remove listings that you do not want to save by clicking on the Checked button. This will keep ONLY the listings you’ve checked. (Note: the maximum number of listings you can save in one search is 300.)
• Navigate to the Search menu on the RMLSweb navigation bar and click on MLS #.
• When the MLS Number Search screen appears, click on the Checked IDs button in the middle of the screen. Your MLS numbers will appear in the blue box. Magic!
• Now click on the Save As button and name the group of MLS numbers to save the search. Notice there is a tab that says “Saved” next to the Search Criteria button to access your saved groups of MLS numbers.
• Access the list of saved MLS numbers by going back to the MLS number search option, clicking on the Saved tab, and choosing the list of MLS numbers you wish to search.

We’re happy to help you keep watch on those listings!


Bluetooth Lockboxes, Best Practices for REALTORS®: Ask Technical Terry

Ask Technical Terry: SentriLock Notifications


Ask Technical Terry is a series RMLS™ aims to offer once a month. RMLS™ subscribers will drive the content—submit any question about RMLS™ to Technical Terry in the comments or by emailing Don’t be shy—we won’t identify you by name.

Dear Technical Terry,

I noticed I’m getting SentriLock showing notifications sent to my email address. Is it possible to get them via text message?

New in Newberg

Fear not, New, you can certainly change how you get showing notifications. You just need to change a few preferences with your SentriCard® on the SentriLock website.

Insert your SentriCard® into the SentriLock card reader attached to your computer. Log in to the SentriLock website. On the left side of your screen, click on “Manage My Account.” Make sure the correct cell phone number is listed!

Toward the top of the screen, below the green bar, click on “Preferences.” Choose the showing notification preference you desire, and the delivery method desired, then click to save the changes to your SentriCard®.

Once that’s all done, you should get text messages as soon as the SentriLock system registers a showing—a much easier option than checking your email every few minutes. Good luck!

Hey Technical Terry,

How can I get my SentriLock notifications immediately? Like, as soon as the box is opened?

Listing Lisa

Thanks for your question, Lisa! The short answer is yes, there is a way for the SentriLock system to send out immediate showing notifications—but it is dependent on whether the agent showing the property follows SentriLock best practices.

Using a cellular device to open the lockbox—meaning either a remote access device (RAD) or the SentriSmart™ phone app—will send information immediately, provided the device is in cell range.

Using a RAD

Ideally an agent’s SentriCard® will stay in the RAD at all times, and he or she will access the SentriLock lockbox using a PIN.

If the lockbox is out of range of the RAD, an agent can use his or her SentriCard® at the box—they’d just need to place the card back in the RAD as soon as possible after opening the lockbox. The RAD will communicate showing information using its cellular radio—again, as long as the device is in cell range.

Using SentriSmart™

SentriSmart™, an app that is free for RMLS™ subscribers with key service, sends immediate showing notifications with no further action needed on the part of the agent showing a property.

RMLS™ subscribers are increasing their use of the SentriSmart™ app—about 17% of subscribers started using SentriSmart™ when it was released, versus about 27% of subscribers who use it now.

SentriSmart™ is free for RMLS™ subscribers who have key service. Download it for Android or Apple devices here:
Android SentriSmart™ phone app
Apple SentriSmart™ phone app
You’ll need to be running Android 2.2 or iOS 6 or higher to use SentriSmart™.

When using SentriSmart™, be aware that a showing notification is sent to the listing agent as soon as you generate a code to open the lockbox. If you generate a code just to see how it works, use one of your own lockboxes to avoid falsely generating a showing notice!

And one more note about RADs: RAD users, charge your RAD for a minimum of four hours weekly using a wall charger. The car charger is not intended to supply a full charge to the RAD, only to keep the RAD battery topped off while it’s in your car.

Hopefully that helps, Lisa. As more people learn about how vital the RAD is and/or start using SentriSmart™, the less you should be receiving delayed notifications. Tell all your REALTOR® friends!