I hear Jan Brady’s voice in my head with the famous line from the Brady Bunch (am I dating myself?), “Marsha, Marsha, Marshaaaa…” but this time, “COVID, COVID, COVIDDDDD.” This word will bring trigger warnings for years to come. So many thoughts, and none of them original on the subject. The sickness, the deaths, and the administration’s handling of it all. It has all been so tragic.
But, ever half-glass-full people that we are, we find the silver linings. Families coming together like never before. Good neighbors really being GOOD neighbors. Our neighbors in Highland Park and Eagle Rock started a phone tree to run errands for the elderly. Everything seems just a little crisper; there are birds and critters in our yard that I have never seen before. Gardening happened! We’ve all been forced into a collective deep breath. Stick with me, I’ll get to the point soon, promise.
Finding a new way
When California first shuttered down, we pulled listings from the market. Everyone was in a state of shock, and no one wanted people to go to their homes. We shut down and waited. After about 7 weeks, the news had sunk in, and people began to figure out how to start living again, with precautions in place.
All at once, our quiet community woke up! Families that have been spending so much time together now wanted to move to a bigger home with a yard. Others realized just how much they missed their families on the east coast and wanted to be closer. That meant it was time to open up again for business…but how?
For a moment virtual tours were sold to us as the answer. 3D tours, which are done with a Matterport camera are a fantastic tool, but no replacement for the 5D experience of touring a home: the light that drenches that one spot in the room, reminding you of childhood, the sounds of the neighbor playing a concerto (plus) or a neighborhood dog’s constant barking (negative), the scent of…what’s that?
Enter C.A.R. (California Association of Realtors), with a very specific plan in place. We were no longer going to be able to hold our open house events (with taco stand, music, a party), but homes need to be seen to be sold. So, here it is, in a nutshell, and how we take it a step further…this is the bit you’ve patiently waded through to get to…
How to sell your home during a pandemic
Open houses are out, but homes CAN be shown. The first step is getting a document, the PEAD-V (Coronovirus Property Entry Advisory and Declaration-Visitor), acknowledged by all parties entering the property. This document outlines the safety precautions that need to be adhered to, by all, entering the property, and is also initialed by the seller(s): masks to be worn at all times; hands washed and sanitizer available before entering the property; NOTHING is to be touched; no paper is allowed at the property, so no brochures, nothing to be signed in person.
What a showing looks like for us, the L.34 Group
We request that the buyer’s agent send us the buyer’s proof of funds and a pre-approval for the sales amount (or higher), PRIOR to the showing. What this means for you, the seller: No Looky-Lou’s! No hobby-but-will-never-buy open house attendees. Only vetted, serious buyers will be walking through your home. We do not show without these in hand.
Document + Showing
Once we are in receipt of the proof of funds, pre-approval, and the fully executed PEAD-V, we schedule an appointment with said buyer’s agent. Appointments are for 15-20 minutes only. We have a COVID kit we carry with us, in case someone has forgotten their mask. Inside, we have new masks, paper booties (floor protection), wipes, bottles of hand sanitizer, rubber gloves…we are stocked. Before entering, buyers need to have their masks on correctly (no below nose-wearing inside the house). Two prospective buyers and their agent are allowed inside at one time, while we wait outside with the door open. No children under the age of 18 are allowed. No one is allowed to touch any surface. All doors and windows open for ventilation (even if AC is on). Once their 20 minutes is up, we go in, and clean all surfaces, doorknobs and handles with Clorox wipes, and let ventilate for 15 minutes. Only then will another party be allowed inside, following the same very strict guidelines.
This is a bit different as well. For years, many of the eastside agents engaged in “Event Pricing” (and many still do!). Event pricing is where you price lower (and with some agents, MUCH lower) to create, well, an event. The goal is to get as many buyers into a property at a time. **She’s on her soapbox now with her microphone** We have fought against this practice for years as we felt that the buyers were getting fatigued by losing out on all the homes priced “in their range,” and it would shoot us all in the collective foot…but that is another blog altogether. In our current situation, I think it’s about the most irresponsible thing an agent can guide their seller(s) to do. It is literally a matter of life and death. We do not need multitudes entering your home. We need to price according to comps, upgrades, view, appeal, etc. We need to DO OUR JOBS.
Example: during the shutdown in March, we pulled one of our Cypress Park/Mt.Washington area listings off the market. Prior to that we had it listed at $749,000 with the expectation of about 3-5 offers. When we put the same house back on the market in May, we discussed strategy with our sellers. They wanted $800,000-$850,000, so we put it back on the market, included all of the seller’s due diligence, and had showings on one Saturday afternoon, in the manner outlined above. Monday we had 3 solid offers, and we closed with zero dollars in credits requested from the buyer, closing at a tidy $825,000 and a week for the sellers to transition to their new home, negotiated. Same result, zero drama. The sellers are beyond relieved and so happy with the outcome.
As many that know of us, know we put a lot of preparation into the homes we sell before they hit the market, making them look it’s very best. We have landscapers, painters, cleaners, and our stager that come through to work their magic. Each one of them needs to also sign the PEAD-V, and be in 100% compliance with how they conduct themselves in regard to mask-wearing, handwashing and/or glove-wearing during their time at the properties.
As the summer rolls out, our listings will be hitting the market, we’ll be doing things a bit differently than our competition, adding extra layers of protection, as it should be. Amidst this pandemic, people are finding a way to move through life, and well, move. We can do this safely and very effectively for you.
If you are thinking of selling or buying in Highland Park, Mt. Washington, Glassell Park, Cypress Park, Eagle Rock, El Sereno, Silver Lake, Echo Park, or surrounding areas…give us a call. The market is moving. We would love to be of service.
Deirdre & Terry