I'm in a unique situation - I'm presenting a home for sale in Piedmont with limited showings, NO Sunday Opens, and offers next Wednesday. Even by Bay Area standards, that's fast!
Why the rush you ask?
The answer is: It works better for the Sellers.
In this case, there are health considerations, coupled with timing issuesthat make the production of selling (moving out, painting, staging, and the whole nine yards), untenable for these long-time Homeowners who will be headed to a senior community up north. Between now and the close of escrow, they need their own bed to sleep in, their own kitchen to cook in, and their friends and neighbors for support. The proceeds from the sale are going to go a long way, I suspect, in making that transition much easier and far more comfortable for this loving couple and I'm all for that.
Given that this traditional home checks most of the boxes for our typical Piedmont Buyers . . . three bedrooms upstairs, family room off of the kitchen, level yard, walk-to schools and Piedmont Avenue, not to mention the park across the street (yes, Dracena Park is directly across the street), I believe this unusual listing is going to have NO problem accruing multiple offers in the space of one week, without adding additional stress to the Sellers' already, complicated move.
Which is to say, that even though the new normal - when it comes to selling real estate - is nothing short of full-scale theater, for these Homeowners, it was clear that a "one-size-fits-all" approach doesn't necessarily work for everyone, especially when you have a special commodity that's in VERY short supply.
So here are the options for selling your home:
1) Full Marketing and Presentation - This is the avenue most Homeowners pursue and for good reason; there's LOTS of money to be made in having Buyers fight for your house and bid each other UP . . . (sometimes, surprisingly so!) but full exposure requires the owners to move out lock, stock and barrel, while a team of workers comes in to paint, repair, stage, garden and fully prep the property for Open Homes, private showings, and Brokers' Tours. Even though this strategy is clearly the most invasive, inconvenient and costly, it's also the only way to know, for certain, that the property receives its highest and best price.
2) "AS IS" Sales - the "AS IS" sale hearkens back to my father's era when Realtors showed up, placed a sign in the front lawn and distributed flyers on Sunday. In those days, the onus was on the Buyer to conduct all inspections and due diligence and every home was sold "AS IS." While this strategy is employed far less frequently in today's marketplace, they do still exist.
However, the "AS IS" sale usually signals a "contractor's special;" it's the neglected home that a quick fix isn't going to repair or improve. (As a matter of technicality, all homes are actually sold "AS IS," - meaning you can't sell a home "AS WAS" or "AS IT WILL BE," but it does set an emotional line in the sand.) And yes, any home can be sold "AS IS," regardless of its condition, but you'll likely net a lower return than your spiffed up counterpart down the street.
3) Off-Market Sales - also known as "pocket listings," refer to properties that are not placed on the MLS (the Multiple Listing Service) OR on the Internet, but are carefully and quietly shown to a few qualified Buyers, via word of mouth, with the intention of giving these select Buyers an opportunity to buy the house without having to compete on the open market. (They're secret sales.)
Off-market sales don't automatically imply that these properties will receive less than if they were fully exposed. In fact, they often receive a premium, but they DO have the advantage of keeping the sale under wraps and off the radar, and for those who don't want the spotlight on their home (or their life), an off-market sale can often be an elegant solution to a rather sticky problem.
The trade-off is that it's impossible to know if money was left on the table without "market testing," the house, so this strategy requires both Buyer and Seller to be confident and resolved in the price they pay and in the amount received - with NO regrets or second guessing. Off-market sales offer the ease and convenience of keeping a family in place while providing a clear understanding of the net gain on the sale before moving out. (As an aside, off-market listings should be thoroughly inspected upfront, just as traditional sales are.)
4) Hybrid Sales - This is a combination of the numbers 3 & 4: "It's a little bit country and a little bit rock-n-roll." While the occupants don't move out, the house is still edited, primed for sale, thoroughly cleaned, partially staged and will look as close to "camera ready" as possible, but won't be open on Sundays. the property will, however, still be placed on Brokers' Tour and the MLS, which fully exposes the listing without requiring the Homeowners to find other lodgings.This strategy allows the entire brokerage community (far and wide) to be aware that the house is very much available. Showings are set and published with the invitation that Agents bring only their qualified Buyers.
Hybrid sales eliminate the neighbors, the strictly curious, and the hobbyistfrom coming into the home while still managing to create demand, and often, multiple offers.
Why no Sunday Opens?
Because we don't need them. The truth is (just between you and me) that Sunday opens are designed to bring the listing Agent new business. (We love meeting your neighbors, your friends, and any unrepresented newcomers.) Sunday Opens very rarely lure in the Buyer.
Because chances are your Buyer is already aligned with a local Realtor who prefers to show the house privately to their client when the crowds are not in attendance. Moreover, today's savvy Buyers live on the Internet and know what's what. Before long, they'll be walking through properties "virtually" and rarely - if ever - visiting a house until they are ready to write. As the Brokers still have access, the only loss is to the Agent, and shouldn't your needs come before ours? (Yes, they should. Okay, that was a trick question. )
Through the years, I've used each of these strategies with excellent success, depending on the circumstances of the family and their needs.
If price is the most important priority, Sellers choose #1. If privacy trumps all else, then #3 is the only option. If ease of transition is what you're looking to achieve, Sellers can choose either #2, #3, or #4; thus, one size doesn't fit all when it comes to selling a house, nor should it. Our lives don't come as "one size fits all" either.
The important question here is: How can I best accommodate your wishes while still bringing you a price that meets your high expectations (assuming your expectations are in line with current market values)?
Listen, selling is a complicated, nuanced, challenging undertaking (at best)and when you approach the how, when and why of it all, then layer on the added responsibilities of how such a move affects your other family members, the logistics of identifying your next residence, and most importantly, how to make sense of it all?!?!, you're going to want someone to customize a measured approach that best fits your goals and helps brings true clarity to the process
Because it takes more than wishes to sell or buy a home.
How can I help you?
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 17 years and has published more than 650 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.