The new Key is here! (Repeat)

Today I stepped into the future…ish.

As Realtors here in AZ, my wife Kathy and I depend on our MLS access to show homes, list homes, and to track who has seen our listings. In the old days, everyone had an actual key, and someone losing their key was a major problem…all the lockboxes would have to be manually re-keyed, every time!

Recently, we’ve been using the GE Supra e-key. This system depends on the key itself connecting to the network, and telling everyone where that key was during that day. The listing agents would get notice of buyers viewing the house, and they can request feedback from the buyer’s agents. It was a great system, but there was a weak link. The only way the key could connect to the network was through a phone line…not a digital line like Vonage or Magic Jack, but a real live copper wire landline like Qwest. Since we had long since moved our Fax services to MyFax, the $100 a month Qwest bill was being paid just to keep our keys updated.

I had been hearing rumors about a new wireless key that was being rolled out in other states, and when Qwest had another outage (4th this year!) I started scrambling to find a way to update our keys that did not involve borrowing access to someone’s copper wire phone for 10 minutes. While Googling AZ MLS Keys, I came across a note on another broker’s website that one of their agents had gotten the newest version of the key, the GE Activekey, and that all their agents should upgrade. The ARMLS website doesn’t mention the upgrade, or the fact that their offices have moved. Flexmls, our Web tool for ARMLS, had a link to a pdf doc “explaining” the transition. Unfortunately it was only a flier that said the upgrade was coming soon!

I called ARMLS support, and they gave me the number for new ARMLS service center…at the Mesa location of the South East Valley Regional Association of REALTORS (SEVRAR). (Wow, I hadn’t thought to check their website! They had a link to the same PDF document about the pending upgrade.) The numbers I was given for the ARMLS center were wrong, so I called SEVRAR and asked about the new ActiveKeys. They let me know that the key exchange was going on, and had been for some time! All I needed was to bring in the old key and exchange it for the new one. Considering the state of the saga so far, I made it to Mesa within the hour and exchanged the key.

Incidentally, the ladies at the ARMLS center let me know that volume is very low so far, ( ya think?!) and that they are just letting word get out to avoid setting up a schedule to roll the new keys out. A sloppy but effective way to limit traffic, I guess!

If you’re involved in real estate, you should get out and get your new key ASAP, it’s a big improvement over the old model, despite the fact that it seems to be the exact same device, in a different case. The new key connects via cellular tower every few minutes and uploads your information to the same network as the old key. No more land-lines!!

That brings me to the only issues I have with the new device…its appearance! I guess they got a lot of feedback that the old style was too small and was easy to lose, and the numbers were too hard to read, anyway, it’s now much larger, white with giant blue buttons. Giant backlighting and a flashlight make it even cheesier, and around our office we call them “the Jitterbug keys”, after that phone that’s designed for seniors? The one with the TV commercials?

The ActiveKey… or the Jitterbug?

Put the old key in a white box with a bump antenna, and Voila!

The stylish and impressive Jitterbug

If you see a senior out front of a house, struggling with their Jitterbug phone, be kind, it may just be your neighborhood Realtor!

Jim Allyn


Allyn and Associates


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