They Were Hesitant to Sell Their Home During COVID-19. Then the Offers Came Rolling In.

When Denver-area real estate agent Bob Maiocco took a look at Brandi Spencer’s Conifer, CO, home in February, he had a feeling it’d be a quick sale.

“The home is what I would call a ‘bread and butter’ home,” says Maiocco, whose properties average just 6 days on the market before attracting an offer. “It’s a three-bedroom, three-bath on an acre at the end of a cul de sac. It’s really just the ideal listing.”

The core of Maiocco’s listing strategy? A busy open house with 50-100 attendants in a single day. Interested crowds prompt eager buyers to make offers quickly.

“That’s why we went with him,” Spencer explains. “He really likes to play off of the open houses.” She and her husband had purchased their dream home nearby just a month earlier and were eager to sell the home fast.

Spencer signed a listing agreement with Maiocco, and they planned to bring the home to the market in late March. With a deep clean, some touch-ups, and professional staging, they went live with the listing.

Then, on March 25, the state declared a shelter-in-place order until at least April 10.

“It was basically at the worst possible time,” Maiocco explains.

With a splashy open house out of the question, Maiocco was back to the drawing board.

A house sold during coronavirus.
Source: (daniel cristian / Unsplash)

‘Should we wait to sell?’

“It was stressful to not know what to do or how to approach this when technically no open houses and no showings could happen,” Spencer says.

Spencer and her husband went back and forth a few days, weighing their options. Some of Maiocco’s other sellers were willing to wait until June to list. The route was tempting.

In a pre-coronavirus environment, Maiocco had no doubt the property would sell for listing price, or above, after a single weekend open house. The property was in near perfect condition and is in high demand in the Conifer market, a community in the foothills of west Denver. But with in-person events off the table, would there still be buyer interest?

Going forward with the sale

Despite these concerns, Spencer felt pressure to go forward with the listing — the home was already staged, and they had two mortgages to pay.

“We sat back and figured if people are stuck at home, maybe they’re looking at homes online. We can at least get it online and get some exposure,” Spencer reasoned.

Maiocco’s research came to the same conclusion. Through close monitoring of the MLS, he noticed homes in the Conifer market were still going under contract. “There was sort of this underground movement by buyers,” he says.

Source: (KAL VISUALS / Unsplash)

Putting a digital-only strategy into motion

Spencer’s listing went live April 3, with all the online splash Maiocco could muster — which was a lot.

“If we weren’t going to be allowed to have an open house, then it was going to be more dependent on the materials available online,” Maiocco says.

The listing included not only a 3-D walkthrough, professional photos, and floor plans, it also had a virtual video tour. If people couldn’t physically visit the home, Maiocco made sure they felt like they were there from their computer. He even offered private virtual tours to buyers who reached out.

“I was the first agent in my area four years ago to use Matterport 3-D scanning,” Maiocco explains. His interest in virtual showing technology was paying off.

In addition to a highly visual listing, Maiocco continued to deploy online advertising through Facebook.

“I really doubled-down on my advertising spend on Facebook and YouTube,” Maiocco says, pushing audiences to the online listing through still images and video since they’d be less likely to stumble across it on a weekend stroll or out driving since everyone was in lockdown.

Using Facebook Live, he posted a video tour of the home and took out ads on the platform featuring the property. According to Maiocco’s data, the Facebook Live video reached an audience of 35,403, and the stills 17,952. In Maiocco’s experience, this was a dramatic increase in web traffic and views.

Buyers were looking. It was just a question if they’d make an offer on the home, sight-unseen.

Managing multiple offers

The online-only strategy started to pay off towards the end of April. Spencer believes that coincides with the drawing close of the shelter in place orders. It might have been a belief that moving and closing would be easier at this time, or perhaps the buyers just really wanted the property.

The home received several offers from buyers who wanted to purchase the home without ever stepping foot in it. In the end, it sold for above its list price of $495,000. The home went under contract April 28, before shelter in place orders were even lifted in Colorado.

26 total days on the market was “painstakingly long” for Maiocco, who typically believes that if a home spends two weekends on the market and hasn’t sold, it’s overpriced. In these unpredictable times, “that no longer applied,” explains Maiocco, “we were comfortable risking higher days on the market” without considering a price cut.

The home successfully closed on May 22, much to Spencer’s excitement. Maiocco didn’t attend the closing, due to social distancing policies. Spencer and the buyer watched from their cars as the paperwork was signed and notarized. The closing was far from standard, but just like listing the home, all parties made it work.

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Why the home sold, despite the coronavirus

When it comes to selling the home in the middle of a pandemic, Maiocco attributes much of the success to the power of online marketing and sales tools.

“Enthusiasm for the property was driven by the content buyers were able to see [from home]. If it was 10 years ago, we would have just pulled the home from the market.” Maiocco used ads and an immersive virtual listing to drum up buyer interest.

Additionally, the Denver-area market is more comfortable — and more familiar with — buying a home without visiting it. Many of Maiocco’s buyers have been from out of state, relocating to Colorado using online tools and tours to purchase homes.

Spencer’s not sure the home would have sold during shelter in place without the right agent who understood the market trends before the coronavirus. “It was all about having the right broker, who could find the right people out there.

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