Expanded Guidance from SFAR on Broker Tours, Open Houses, and Private Showings
March 19, 2020
Dear San Francisco Real Estate Community:
The COVID-19 crisis is unprecedented. We must do everything we can to help slow the spread of the virus. Our Association is closely monitoring mandates issued at the local, state, and national levels, and we are committed to providing recommendations to you on how to conduct your real estate business safely and responsibly.
As a reminder, on Monday, March 16, 2020, San Francisco Mayor London Breed issued a shelter in place public health order which requires:
“... all individuals anywhere in San Francisco to shelter in place—that is, stay at home—except for certain essential activities... This order begins at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, March 17, 2020 and will continue for three weeks through April 7, 2020...”.
Read the full public health order, including the list of "essential businesses", here.
Please keep this directive in mind as you read our recommendations below.
President, San Francisco Association of REALTORS®
A video overview of our guidance:
Suspended until April 7, 2020 (or the date the shelter in place order is lifted)
Mayor Breed's shelter in place order makes it very clear that this type of activity is not viewed as an "essential need". In compliance with the government-issued order, we are suspending Broker Tours until the order is lifted or the situation changes. At a minimum, this will mean no Broker Tours until April 7, 2020 (the last day of the current shelter in place order).
We are not modifying the Rapattoni MLS system; we simply require that our members refrain from putting listings “on tour” until further notice. The SFARMLS Operations Team may, at its discretion, delete entered tour data if this suspension is not followed. Since the shelter in place order is in effect across the entire Bay Area (including in Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Contra Costa, Santa Cruz, and Alameda Counties and the City of Berkeley), expect this approach will apply to the MLSs in our service area.
Open Houses and Showings
Strongly not recommended until the SIP order is lifted.
The shelter in place order lists activities that are deemed "essential". Open houses and showings are types of activities not included in this list. Again, we cannot do more than advise you to comply with the shelter in place order. Once we hear from the city that the situation is improving, or has changed, we will respond accordingly and update our guidance.
Following the shelter in place order, SFAR’s recommendation is to refrain from personally showing houses in any capacity until the situation becomes clearer or the involved risks are reduced.
Lock Boxes and Supra Key Service
We cannot provide physical service, but eKey setup is possible.
Lockboxes and Xpress key set up service will be placed on temporary hold until further notice. EKey set up service will be handled remotely while still following the protocol requiring the managing broker’s signature. We will use DocuSign where necessary.
Managing Your Listings
Using Hold, Cancel, and virtual open houses. Bring back as “new” once the shelter in place order is lifted.
Last week we released an article regarding how to manage your listings and details about modifications we have made to the SFARMLS Rules & Regulations to accommodate these unprecedented circumstances. We completely understand that exceptions are going to be necessary. We would like to expand on and clarify those changes herein.
Hold Status (Off-Market)
If you placed your listing on Hold status on or after Monday March 9, 2020, we will allow you to email us a request to have that listing marked as “new” once the listing has been changed back to any Active status. Please note that the “new” status indicator will not change, or zero-out, or “reset” days on market (DOM). Using Hold will stop DOM from incrementing and take your listing off-market.
!! IMPORTANT !! We want to highlight that placing a listing on Hold will not stop all third-party sites (Zillow, RedFin, IDX Broker Inc., etc.) from incrementing their days count on listings that they have already received, as many of these sites and portals calculate “days on site” according to their own systems. We have no control over that. Your listing will display as off-market on those sites.
If you and your seller want to cancel the listing agreement, then you can set the status to Canceled in the MLS. The same “new” modification will apply as for Hold. We will allow the “new” status indicator to be added to listings once this extraordinary set of circumstances has passed, regardless of requirements for number of days kept off the market.
Virtual Open Houses (On-Market)
Should you choose to keep your listing Active “on-market” we are also allowing HTML links for virtual open houses or home walk-through videos in the Open House Comments field. Perhaps you plan to use Facebook Live Stream to do a virtual Open House during the specified open house time slot, you can add comments about this without penalty. Also, we encourage you to make more extensive use of the existing Virtual Media links from the Revise Listing page.
Please refer to the images below for how to reach the Virtual Media settings page, and what options are the best to use during this time. Many (not all) third-party vendors use these links properly in their products, but results may vary.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why doesn’t SFARMLS change the listing statuses of all listings for us?
A: SFARMLS’s role is to act as the neutral system administrator and rules manager of the platform, but we are not responsible for making the business decisions for each brokerage regarding what is best on a seller-by-seller basis. We have provided the above guide for how you CAN manage your listings, but the decisions about keeping it on-market or taking it off-market (using HOLD or CANCEL) are up to each agent and their seller following the guidelines of their Broker. Open Houses and Tours are a different case – we are following the guidance of the city, state and nation on this and trying to keep people out of harm’s way. SFARMLS is not in the business of unilaterally altering the listing data in the MLS database to reflect anything other than what your listing agreements say, but we may have to remove Broker Tour data if it continues to be added contrary to the suspension as detailed above.
Q: How come SFAR is not restating the position of the City on the “shelter in place” Order?
A: There is no benefit to restating or reframing the City’s order to “shelter in place.” At best, we would be repeating the City’s position to marginal benefit, at worst we might interpret a nuance slightly incorrectly leading to an after-the-fact examination to the benefit of nobody and the possible detriment of your business. The directives issued by the City of San Francisco are very clear. Please follow those orders for the sake of the community. Trust that SFAR is doing our very best to keep business open and find alternative ways to provide services to our members while complying with the shelter in place order.
Q: I disagree with the City’s classification of "essential businesses".
A: You are free to interpret the City’s order however you like, but please remember that the choices you make now may bring you into a situation where you must explain yourself to City authorities. SFAR will not be involved if agents choose not to follow our recommendations and disregard the shelter in place order. Please see the graphic below from the City's website here.