How to For Sale by Owner (FSBO) During Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic

With the uncertainty created by Covid-19 Coronavirus, for sale by owners (FSBO) have many questions regarding their existing entry only MLS listings along with how (and if) they should respond and take action in selling their own home.

We’ll outline changes made to the Entry Only New England platform to help FSBOs take action during the Covid-19 pandemic, outline one of the ways we can offer generosity in something we do have control over during this time, and share updates real estate agents and Realtors are receiving so you as a FSBO can strive to list and sell your own home with as much knowledge as possible.

Key to note in that last point, consider using Temporarily Withdrawn (WDN) status during this time to stop accruing days on market for your MLS listing.

The Current State of Being a FSBO During Covid-19

It’s unquestionable Covid-19 and the state of emergency declared by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has impacted the real estate industry as a whole, the Massachusetts FSBO is impacted too.

For some perspective…

You don’t have to be a licensed real estate agent practicing real estate full-time to know the Spring market is when the real estate industry really “turns on” and hits the gas during the calendar year. On Sunday, March 29. 2020, a day normally flooded with open houses, there were exactly twelve (12) Sunday open houses scheduled across the entire state of Massachusetts.

In 2020, during the last weekend in March, there were ten (10) new entry only MLS listings that hit the market as new listings, contrast that with the same weekend in 2019 where we saw nineteen (19) new entry only MLS listings.

For traditional full commission listings (i.e. non entry only MLS listings), the numbers were slightly different – in 2020, there were 508 new listings the last weekend of March whereas there were 848 the same weekend in 2019.

The 30 year mortgage rate for the week of March 26, 2020 was 3.50% whereas the same time the previous year was 4.06%.

Entry Only New England Covid-19 FSBO Response

There are two ways in which Entry Only New England is directly responding to Covid-19 in an effort to help FSBOs.

1. Technology – as showings and open houses become more virtual, we introduced the ability for a FSBO to provide a property related website (URL) when listing or updating an entry only MLS listing for sale or rent. Providing a URL is optional, yet it can be any URL associated with a property, a website, a YouTube video, a sales landing page, etc.. The MLS system does not publish or syndicate property related URLs, so this URL will be published here alongside the other contact information we make available in the process / system we’ve put in place to facilitate direct communication between FSBOs and interested parties. FSBOs can add a website (URL) to their listing during signup, or add/update the URL throughout the duration of a listing via our Listing Update Request Form – not every FSBO has a website or content online for their property, yet we encourage all FSBOs to take advantage of this new feature as the URL is not subject to the same stringent requirements as, for instance, adding a virtual tour to your MLS listing, where no contact information, no YouTube videos, etc. are allowed. This new website (URL) feature provides FSBOs a lot of flexibility to share their direct contact information and use the platforms of their choice to host their content however much or little there is.

To instantly add a website (URL) to your MLS listing today, submit a Listing Update Request Form of type “Website (URL)”.

2. Complimentary Listing Expiration Date Extension – generosity should be the standard during this time, compassion can be a powerful mobilizer in many ways. Something Entry Only New England actually has control over is the expiration date of existing entry only MLS listings. While we are seeing deals close that were already Under Agreement before the state of emergency was announced, transaction timelines of MLS listings not already Under Agreement are most definitely impacted. We would like to offer extending the expiration date of existing listings to any Massachusetts FSBO who needs it. Simply submit a Listing Update Request Form of type “Other” and let us know what a convenient expiration date is for you and we’ll honor that – given the uncertainty, if you need to do this more than once, we would be honored to accommodate that.

If your flat fee MLS listing has been impacted by Covid-19, we would like to extend the expiration date of your listing, for free, simply submit a Listing Update Request Form of type “Other” and let us know a convenient expiration date.

Massachusetts Association of Realtors (MAR), Federal, State, and Local Government Covid-19 Real Estate Updates

So Massachusetts FSBOs are in the know, licensed real estate agents and Realtors are being encouraged to watch the updates from the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® (MAR) found here – this site is updated daily with up-to-date information on changing actions by the Federal, State, and local governments with their responses to COVID-19. MLS PIN, the largest MLS system in New England and who we partner with exclusively, will continue to post helpful information on their Pinergy homepage as well.   

Massachusetts FSBOs should know that in light of the pandemic and the state of emergency declared by Governor Baker, all MLS PIN customers (i.e. licensed real estate agents and brokers) have been strongly encouraged to hold off any in-person open houses and showings for the time being. To accommodate this extraordinary situation, MLS PIN is temporarily allowing a listing to remain “on-market” in MLS PIN, provided that the property is on the market and available for sale, even if it is not available for on-site showings. With this temporary allowance, there are a few things to consider:

  • An under-agreement property may be in the Contingent status if the seller is seeking back-up offers.
  • There must still be a current, signed, exclusive listing agreement in place between a listing brokerage and the seller.
  • If a listing is left on-market in MLS PIN, Days On Market (DOM) will continue to accrue normally. If a seller has concerns about DOM accrual, the alternative would be to update the listing to Temporarily Withdrawn (WDN) status. The WDN status would freeze the DOM counter in place until a listing is placed in Back On Market (BOM) status, at which point DOM would pick up where it left off.
  • A listing in any “on-market” or “temporarily-withdrawn” status will still expire on the stated expiration date unless extended with the seller’s signed permission.

National Association of Realtors (NAR) Guidelines for Open Houses and MLS PIN Temporary Rules Change for Allowing Virtual Showings

Licensed real estate agents and Realtors are being asked to refer to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Open House Guidance during Covid-19 here. MLS PIN has strongly encourage all its members (i.e. licensed real estate agents and brokers) to cancel in-person open houses and showings during the Covid-19 pandemic and to consider the temporary rule change here that MLS PIN put in place last week for allowing virtual showings in response to the state of emergency. 

Information around Covid-19 for FSBOs can change daily, if not hourly sometimes. If there are questions we can help you with, please contact us, and, know we want to do right by FSBOs during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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