Can I Sell My San Francisco Home During the Shelter-in-Place Order?

If you have to sell your San Francisco, Bay Area home, you probably have questions. Number one — can you sell your home during the state’s shelter-in-place order, which has been extended through the end of May? While each county has adopted slightly different rules the answer is yes. But there are caveats.

Real Estate as an Essential Business

On March 17, the shelter-in-place directive went out to San Francisco and five of the nine other counties that comprise the total of San Francisco, Bay Area. That shelter-in-place mandate originally excluded real estate as an essential business. Two weeks later on March 28, the US Department of Homeland Security posted an update of businesses deemed essential – which included real estate. Since then, different counties have adopted slightly different descriptions of what can and can’t be done, but the net net is to use virtual showings whenever possible. In-person showings are only allowed in non-owner occupied properties (aka vacant homes). 

A Virtual Sale

It’s not ideal, but it’s definitely doable and motivated buyers can make good on the current interest rates by making an offer subject to an in-person showing at some later date to be negotiated. Virtual staging is also being utilized. 

Before virtual staging

If you live in the home, prospective buyers can tour via smartphone or with a detailed pre-recorded tour. My sellers being relocated for work to the East Coast did their own photographs and we edited it for a teaser video with a longer tour available with the disclosure package. 

After virtual staging

Offers and counters, contracts, disclosures and anything related can be completed electronically, with as many phone calls or video chats as are needed. Financing and closings are also being done electronically.

The COVID Discount

With so many unanswered questions abounding, who is actually buying now? You’d be surprised. There are nowhere near the number of properties trading hands that would be customary at this time of year, but sales are definitely happening. And the majority are happening “off market” through a variety of “Coming Soon” sites that experienced agents utilize.  

Number one on buyers’ lists is the coveted single family home, three bedroom two bath with parking and some kind of outside space that falls into what is considered the entry-level price point for this kind of home in the Bay Area – the $900,000 to $2,000,000 range. Those listings that are being marketed are still seeing multiple bids. Condos for now seem to be trading at or near their list prices and so far there is the occasional COVID discount for a trade that the seller needs to go through, but most are taking a wait-and-see stance.    

If you are looking to sell, prepare as much as you can now. That means getting all of the necessary vendors scheduled, doing your research as to when is the best time to come to market, and staying in close contact with a trusted agent. I, like so many, am watching the market like a hawk to make sure I’m ready to capitalize on the best opportunities and timing for both my sellers and my buyers.  

This is likely the scenario in which most people will find themselves. And that means a lot of people are prepping to hit the ground running as soon as it’s feasible to do so. If you plan to be one of them, it’s time to get started. If you have to sell a San Francisco home sooner rather than later, let’s talk through your options together.

CalBRE #01224570

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