How To (Virtually) Sell Your Home During COVID-19

Following up on my post about San Francisco Real Estate with COVID-19, I wanted to elaborate on this quote, “If you are in a position of needing to sell now, we can do 100% of your transaction with zero human contact, and if you’re in a position of needing or wanting to sell when this blows over, [we can] get you teed up now, so you’re ready to roll later.”

So how do you list, market, show, and sell a property 100% free of human contact? Here’s how (in a very simplified form that will definitely have multiple hurdles), and let me modify the 100% statement to clarify a seller, even in an all cash purchase, will need at the very least a mobile notary to notarize the Grant Deed. So it’s more of a 95% human interaction free transaction.

[Update 4/18/2020: Currently, transacting real estate has been deemed an “essential” business. As such, if your property is VACANT, it can be painted, staged, photographed (virtual and still), and shown by appointment only. You, and all vendors must abide by CDC guidelines for social distancing, hand protection, wear face masks, and disinfect all surfaces prior to letting anyone in your home. Additionally, buyers and sellers must now sign a special COVID-19 Addendum prior to showing property, which in so many words makes you all aware of the risks, and your responsibilities during this Shelter in Place. Contact us for details.]

How to (virtually) sell your home during COVID-19

  • We can do a virtual walk thru of your home to assess its value. All you need is a smartphone with Facetime, and/or Skype. If you’re in San Francisco / Marin, we have seen so many homes, we could practically do this without the walk thru, but we never would. We need to see your property, even if it is virtually.
  • The listing agreement and ALL seller documentation is done electronically using any number of electronic signing platforms, but we use Docusign. It’s the best thing to hit real estate since sliced bread, and we’ve already been using it for years. All you need is a remotely decent smartphone, or computer and an email address and you can sign everything from your own personal devices.
  • Depending on whether you occupy the property, or not, this part gets interesting. Take photos of your property and send them to us. If necessary, we can virtually stage your home. If you’re somehow managing to keep a spotless and clutter free environment during lockdown, then staging probably won’t be needed. What does virtual staging look like? We did it here, and here, and it’s amazing.
  • If you’re not occupying the property, you can leave a key at the property, one of our staff can show up with gloves, and protective gear, take photos, and do it ourselves.
  • We could even do any number of virtual tours, including 3D, but really buyers just want to see photos.
  • Ideally, it’s at this time we would also get your property inspected by a certified home/pest inspector, assuming we can find one willing to do so during our shelter in place. And obviously ALL recommended guidelines per the CDC would be strictly observed.
  • Marketing- Once we have your listing agreement signed, your photos taken and your property virtually polished, we can market your property as “coming soon” on the MLS, which then allows us to place it on the two alternative platforms for getting property sold “privately” a.k.a. “off market”. Off market simply meaning “not on MLS”. We’ve done this countless times, and are pros. One network is the Top Agent Network, the other is Additionally, we have thousands of readers to our site where we would place your property, and we’d also email the entire San Francisco Association of Realtors alerting them it is for sale immediately.
  • When we find an interested buyer, we can give them a tour of the property via Facetime, or Skype, or pre-recorded, detailed tour.
  • Offers, contracts, addenda, everything associated with an offer is done electronically, and explained to you via phone or video chat. Hopefully you get in contract.
  • Here is the biggest kicker…financing, and signing of closing/lending documentation. If your buyer is getting a loan, the entire process may fluctuate tremendously, because lenders are changing their signing and lending policies daily. Fear not, we are keeping our eyes on all of the moving parts, and we will certainly keep you hyper updated.
  • If you’re fortunate enough to find a cash buyer (they are still out there), the only person(s) that would need to be in closer proximity to a human would be you, the seller, when the mobile notary arrives to notarize your Grant Deed, and you can/should take all necessary CDC precautions around that. There is a possibility, depending on how long this lasts, that electronic notary services may be legalized in California, but at the moment it is not allowed. We are in touch with our Title and Escrow team daily, so we’ll be the first to know if/when this changes.
  • Once your transaction closes, we will pick up keys from you (of course taking all precautions). Leave you a gift, and deliver the keys to the buyer.
  • Seller proceeds will be wired to your account, and you are on your way.

Obviously, we simplified some of the elements of this process, and obviously we’re working with a very mobile and quick moving target, but with some creativity we’re confident we can support you and your real estate needs during this time of unprecedented uncertainty, and we’re confident we can navigate your situation accordingly. Just be flexible, understanding, and open-minded, and we can get through this all together.

If you’re more the profile of wanting to sell when this blows over, and not needing to sell now, with everything we mentioned above we can get you to a point now where we’d only need a week or two later to get your property polished and on the market. A little preparation now could pay dividends later. Buyer demand is still out there, so be ready to strike when this blows over, because it will.

[Update: as stated above, if your property is vacant and everyone abides by the rules, we can essentially get your property 100% ready to roll when Shelter in Place is lifted.]

Bottom line, we have your back, and are here to help. Even if it means just chatting about your options.

Stay safe everyone. Stay home. Keep your kids inside and DON”T LET THEM HAVE PLAY DATES, unless it’s online of course.

[UPDATE: Effective this past Tuesday, the 31st at 11:59pm, the six Bay Area counties as well as the city of Berkeley, updated their Shelter in Place Order, extending it through May 3rd, but also added clarifying language around essential businesses. 

In this update, essential businesses were expanded to include service providers that enable residential transactions (notaries, title companies, Realtors, etc.). 

But it is not for business as usual, there are still strict guidelines in place, which has now been further defined as: Service providers that enable residential transactions (including rentals, leases, and home sales), including, but not limited to, real estate agents, escrow agents, notaries, and title companies, provided that appointments and other residential viewings must only occur virtually or, if a virtual viewing is not feasible, by appointment with no more than two visitors at a time residing within the same household or living unit and one individual showing the unit (except that in person visits are not allowed when the occupant is still residing in the residence).

This update applies to the counties of: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara, as well as the city of Berkeley. If you are buying or selling in any of these areas, please follow these new guidelines.]

Check back soon for why I said in my last post, “I’m cursing my choice not to put more money in San Francisco real estate over the past couple of years instead of the stock market.“, and an updating list of FAQs on the changing rules, regulations, policies, and procedures of getting property sold during COVID-19.

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Sunset Home Virtually Staged

Top Agent Network

Aalto Private Listings

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