It’s not a great time to put a listing on the market, but some homeowners may need to do just that. Unexpected life or financial changes sometimes propel a home sale. If you’re about to take the plunge during the shelter in place (SIP), it’s important that you understand the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) options so you can decide the best way to market your home or handle any complications that may arise during what are very uncertain times.
Here’s a breakdown of the different types of MLS listings so you can figure out what strategy will be best for your property:
Active: When an agent inputs a property in the MLS, it typically becomes an “active” listing and is also published to syndicated sites such as Redfin, Zillow, Realtor.com and others. However, this may not be the best route to go during the SIP. An active listing immediately starts the clock ticking on an important metric—“days on market” (DOM). Agents and buyers consider the DOM when they’re discussing how much to offer. A home with a long DOM indicates a lack of interest, and discourages buyers from offering more over asking (or even list price). Of course, DOM during a SIP has more to do with the interruption in the normal course of business than a lack of interest. But be aware that there are currently more than 400 active residential listings in the MLS, and many of them are gathering dust.
Hold: These are listings that were active, but which agents placed on hold. In this case, the listing is not racking up days on market. Agents with MLS access can search on and view “hold” listings, but consumers won’t see them on the syndicated sites. When a listing agent switches the status of a hold listing back to that of an active one, the days on market will then resume accumulating. Whether to put a listing on hold is something a seller with an active listing should be deciding during the SIP. There are presently 300 residential listings on hold, ready to return to active status after the SIP ends.
Coming Soon: This is a good way to get buzz around your listing by allowing agents to see the details & photos prior to the listing becoming active. Coming Soon listings don’t appear on syndicated sites. Many agents are putting listings into the Coming Soon status during the SIP, with the idea that they will officially launch them after the SIP ends.
Apart from the MLS is the off-market option. This means an agent is promoting a listing on private agent networks or within his or her brokerage only. Sellers will sometimes go off market if they’re testing a price, or attempting to get a specific price prior to painting and staging. However, the Realtor associations will be banning off-market sales beginning on May 1st. We will likely have the SIP in place until at least that date. Shopping your listing around off market with a buy-it-now price and a virtual tour could be a good way to snag a qualified buyer.
There are also many more limitations in effect around listings during the SIP. Here are a few things to note that will have a huge impact on prepping, marketing and closing your sale:
– Pre-sale work such as painting, staging, cleaning, etc is hit or miss. Some workers are not going out to properties, and some will do so if the home is vacant and no one else will be there.
– Most photographers will only do a shoot if a home is vacant and on lockbox so they don’t have to interact with anyone while on site. Ditto for floor plan diagrammers.
– The San Francisco Association of Realtors (SFAR) and brokerages are not permitting physical property showings during the SIP. There may be some flexibility around lockbox showings on vacant houses, but even those are becoming increasingly scarce. HOAs are stepping up and not allowing anyone but residents in their buildings, and lobby attendants will strictly enforce that. You absolutely cannot do physical showings in tenant- or seller-occupied properties.
– Home inspection companies are largely closed. Individual inspectors may be doing business, but they have strict limitations around availability such as the home being vacant and accessible via lockbox. And no one else can be in the property; the inspector will do a post-inspection conference call with the seller or buyer if there are any questions.
– The sale may take up to 45 days or more to close.