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Can You Sell a House Remotely?

James Anderson

September 4, 2022

The process of selling a home is already daunting on its own, and it becomes even more so when there is a surplus of sellers in the region. It is possible to sell a house remotely other than the traditional way, which includes additional fees that pile up when selling a home, such as hiring a real estate agent and having the property staged professionally.

By moving the sale process online, vendors can save time and money by skipping steps like having open houses. Your home will get greater exposure to buyers if you sell it online, and you can save money by selling it yourself instead of using a real estate agent.

Can You Sell a House Remotely? Yes. A house can be sold remotely in two ways: Through an agent without the owner's physical presence and virtually by the owner with or without the aid of an agent. Whether you're employing the services of a real estate or doing the FSBO (For Sale by Owner) route, it's crucial to have your home looking its best for potential buyers.

It's a lot less of a hassle than the conventional method of selling since homeowners don't have to rearrange their schedules to cope with the sale of their property. They may list, stage, and sell the house whenever it's convenient for them.

Why sell a house remotely?

Attempting to sell a home from a distance adds an already stressful event to an already difficult list, especially for first tie home sellers. It can be advantageous provided you follow the right steps given that there are a number of potential causes for your predicament.

One can sell a house remotely if they need to make a quick sale and they are away from the property. This can also happen if you've got a job offer in another city or state and won't be able to close the deal before you go.

Maybe you need to sell a property you aren't using or haven't used for years because you moved. You could also be helping your family members sell inherited property or property left from downsizing.

Whatever the reason, selling a home remotely is not the same as selling a home when living in the local area. The proper steps must be taken to prepare when selling a home remotely, as it is not so different from selling a home while living locally, except for a few additional things that need to be considered.

When selling a house from a distance, it's crucial to follow all the necessary procedures and have a solid team of local specialists available in various fields to assist with the sale. This may include a realtor, the various renovation teams, an attorney, and other professionals, and if you decide to sell it yourself, you may still need someone on site.

Selling a house online

Online Platforms

Homeowners that need a fast sale or cash for their house can consider selling online for a variety of other reasons. Unlike the conventional method, selling a home entirely online requires a new set of steps.

Selling a house the old-fashioned way is all about showcasing its finest attributes in person to interested purchasers. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of people interested in purchasing a home without first physically inspecting it.

Online home selling became popular during the Covid 19 pandemic since face-to-face interactions were impossible. Home purchases conducted over the internet became the norm, and a growing number of people may successfully establish themselves as remote workers wherever in the country, resulting in a significant increase in the popularity of online real estate transactions.

How to sell a house remotely

Remote house transactions How to
Prep the houseHave any repairs done
Clean the house
If possible have it painted
Stage the house virtually (photography, videography, VR tours)
Have someone look after the house
List itGet an appraisal
Hire a skilled agent
Close the saleHire an efficient attorney
Close the sale with mobile notary, separate closings, RON or IPEN

Selling a home from a distance may be difficult in most situations. A feeling of unease might set in when one cannot monitor the status of either the home or the work being done on it.

It is essential that a seller who is located far away use competent professionals to handle the sale of their home. There is various way you can ensure a successful remote house sale.

  1. Use technological advances to your advantage

Selling properties with the help of technology is nothing new, but it's recently gained a lot of traction. Using today's technology, homeowners may advertise their property to a wider audience, often at no cost.

Some of these methods include:

  • Photography and Videography

Although it was once considered a tremendous gamble, many modern homebuyers are willing to buy a house online without seeing it in person. This is especially true for those in a hurry or planning to make significant changes to the property.

Good photographs and videos can help sway the decisions of even the most hesitant homebuyers. Depending on the amount of attention your post or video receives, a video or good photo can do more than just show potential buyers what a house has to offer.

Taking professional images and films of your entire property might offer potential buyers a fair idea of what they're getting into before they even set foot inside. If you want to give it a shot but aren't sure how to effectively document your property for potential buyers, you can always hire a professional real estate photographer.

  • Virtual Staging

When you put your home up for sale online, you can virtually stage it to increase interest from potential buyers. The cost of hiring a professional home stager to make it more marketable can add up quickly, which is made cheaper and easier through virtual staging.

You or a professional photographer will take pictures of each room in your home, and then a virtual staging firm will alter the pictures so that potential buyers can see what the rooms would look like with various decor. Virtual staging allows homebuyers to visualize the possibilities of the house they are looking at if updated though you must disclose that your home does not really look like it appears in the staged images.

  • Aerial Photography

Even though aerial photographs may seem like a minor addition to your home's advertising materials, they can significantly impact the sale price. Aerial photography allows homeowners to show potential buyers the inside of their home, the entire yard, and the surroundings.

  1. Regularly check on and maintain the house (Have a home inspection)

Although not required by law, most purchasers will only commit to property without first having it inspected to make sure there are no hidden concerns. When a buyer's offer is accepted, the home inspection is not far behind, and to avoid any legal problems, you need to ensure the house is as advertised.

When selling a home, the seller must inform their agent or lawyer of any problems that need fixing before the inspection is scheduled. They may advise you to fix the issues before the home inspection is performed because otherwise, the buyer may demand that you do so as a condition of closing the deal or reduce the purchase price to account for the repairs.

Seeing the house for yourself is the best way to get a feel for its current state but if you can't, have a professional inspector look over the property so you can talk about any problems that require fixing before you list it for sale. Making regular trips to the property may not be feasible, but you should still have your agent or a trusted friend keep tabs on it.

When a house is empty, it attracts criminals and upkeep problems. It's crucial to have someone check in on the house on a regular basis and take care of any necessary repairs before showing it to potential buyers.

Cleaning up dust and debris that may have settled in the house while the tenants were away, completing yard work, and maintaining working air conditioning and heating systems are all part of this. It could be a good idea to have the handyman fix the things that customers have complained about repeatedly if there has been consistent feedback.

There are still things that must be done before closing, such as allowing a home inspector access to the property (a standard contract contingency) or providing a house warranty to cover structural damage or equipment failures (such as the furnace or the refrigerator) before closing. Brokers, however, insist that homeowners need not be present during such inspections; they can simply open the property and wait outside while the inspector does his or her work.

Inspectors can save time by not having to travel to visit with clients in person, instead sending in reports and accompanying photos and then speaking with clients over the phone or over a video chat about their findings

  1. Get a professional appraisal

To assess the genuine value of a home, an appraiser takes into account the market value of the home's characteristics and recent sales of similar properties in the region. Lenders are less likely to give you a loan for the purchase price if the value of your home is estimated to be lower than the purchase price.

Most homebuyers need to take out loans to fund their purchases which will prompt the mortgage lender to order an official valuation of the home to ensure that the loan amount is appropriate given the property's current market worth.

Consult with your agent or lawyer before challenging the appraisal, as doing so can take a lot of time and lead to expensive legal bills.

  1. Choose a Hands-on Agent

The most important thing is to make sure the house can be advertised no matter what happens and that potential buyers can have a good look at the property and its layout before deciding whether or not to make an offer. While you can't be on the spot to oversee things yourself, having a proactive agent who is prepared to go the additional mile is invaluable.

As with every business transaction, trust is crucial, but it is especially crucial with online purchases. The ability to video chat with your agent could be useful if there is damage to the property or if there are details about the property that you cannot recollect.

There are many factors to consider when selling a home remotely. If you work with a realtor, selling your home will be as simple as if you were there in person. When in-person interaction is challenging or impossible, communication takes on a greater significance which can be done with the help of an agent.

Homebuyers invest significant time and energy into finding the perfect residence, touring numerous listings before making a final decision, and the vast majority of them begin their search online. Whether you locate them through HomeLight or some other method, asking a potential agent about their prior experience with virtual transactions and their technological expertise is always a good idea.

One of the most crucial aspects of a remote real estate sale is the realtor's plan for keeping in touch with the buyer and the seller. Most of the seller's interaction with the real estate agent will occur while selling a home remotely.

You should also be aware that selling the house on your own does not imply you will avoid paying any costs associated with the transaction. You may be able to negotiate a lower purchase price with the seller, but you'll still have to cover the charges of your buyer's agent and the closing.

Whether the seller is in the area or far away, they need to find a top-notch Realtor to help them sell their home, especially in the case of a long-distance home sale.

If you're selling a home and have no idea who the best realtors in your area are, you may want to talk to a relocation specialist. When it comes to the realtors they partner with, several relocation businesses have stringent requirements.

The real estate agent used by a moving business is often one of the most successful agents in the area. It is crucial to hire the best realtor possible if you plan to list your house for sale, and if you aren't familiar with the area, you can hire a local realtor.

Top-performing real estate agents tend to be technologically savvy and proficient. When listing their home for sale, sellers have certain requirements from their realtor, including the methods through which they want to have contracts signed and exchanged.

A house seller who wants to sell their property from afar should look for a real estate agent that is familiar with digital signature programs like Authentisign and DocuSign. By eliminating the need to physically sign and fax back and forth numerous documents, digital signature software can save the seller a significant amount of time and effort.

Additionally, unlike faxing, the documents' final appearance is crisp and clear, though most prefer faxes.

  1. Get an efficient attorney

A competent legal representative is also essential when selling a home remotely. When selling a home long distance, the seller should inquire as to the attorney's method of communication and how they intend to collect the necessary signatures on closing paperwork.

The attorney's level of business expertise should be a primary consideration while making your hiring decision. Whatever the seller's location, the closing attorney should be able to mail all necessary closing paperwork to them.

The state of Alabama requires all legal documents to be drafted by a licensed attorney. The vast majority of sellers will have their attorneys sign all necessary paperwork prior to closing.

Remote closing on a house

Online Contract For: Can You Sell A House Remotely?

It is possible to conduct a closing without ever meeting in person in jurisdictions that permit it. E-mortgages, which are digitally created, executed with electronic signatures, and archived digitally, frequently have virtual closings to go along with them.

During a remote closing, all involved parties can use computers to conduct the necessary steps of the closing from the convenience of their own homes or offices. All parties' identities are confirmed digitally, and all necessary documents are signed digitally.

  • Remote closing by mobile notary

A mobile notary can come to your house with the closing paperwork and complete the closure in the comfort of your own living room. You may also choose to have the documents mailed to you, where you may then sign them in the presence of a notary public and return them.

  • Separate closings

Another option for a remote closing is to sign the necessary paperwork at a title company's branch office without the seller present. Only the buyer, seller, and escrow agent need to be present at a closing.

In "witness only" closings, a notary or attorney comes to you and the seller, you both sign the paperwork, and they handle the disbursements. Both parties, buyer and seller, can sit down together or independently.

This might not be ideal if you're a first-time homebuyer who needs assistance understanding the paperwork. The closing agent at a witness-only closing is not required to inform you of the legal consequences of the documents you are signing, and all jurisdictions do not recognize such closings.

  • Remote Online Notarization (RON)

With RON (remote online notarization), you can complete a property's closing procedure without ever leaving your house. During the closing procedure, you will use video conferencing to verify your identity with the other party instead of physically meeting in person to do so.

  • In-Person E-Notarization (IPEN)

Signing closing documents digitally but in person is known as in-person e-notarization (IPEN). All parties to closing must appear in person for an electronic notary's notarization, even if the notarization is conducted entirely online and without paper.

Although this online closing cannot be completed remotely, it saves paper usage by using electronic documents and aids in the closing process security by requiring personal appearance for identification verification.

Expert Insights on Closing a House Remotely

We gathered expert opinions and personal stories of people who have closed remotely.

Here is what 4 thought leaders had to say:

  • Easy and Saved Money in Commission Fees
  • Our Agent Did an Outstanding Job
  • Distance Makes it Difficult but Not Impossible
  • Used a Specialist and Could Move Smoothly

Easy and Saved Money in Commission Fees

I wanted to sell my house in Cyprus, but I didn't want to deal with the hassle of finding a real estate agent. I also didn't want to pay the high commission fees. So, I sold my house remotely.

I started by taking some good-quality photos of the house and property. Then, I wrote a description of the property and uploaded it to a website that specializes in selling properties abroad. 

Within a few weeks, I received several inquiries from potential buyers. I could answer their questions and provide additional information via email and Skype. After negotiating a price, we could close the deal without ever meeting in person. Selling my house remotely was easy and saved me a lot of money in commission fees.

Antreas Koutis, Administrative Manager, Financer

Our Agent Did an Outstanding Job

We sold our second home remotely after I got transferred for work rather quickly from San Diego to Austin. In a matter of two weeks, we had to be packed up, moved, and in Austin, leaving us to sell our home halfway across the country. 

Luckily, we had a really excellent agent who went above and beyond. She scheduled our pest inspection, cleaned up the yard, managed the photos, locked up the house, and even cleaned our pool. She was simply outstanding. 

One thing you don’t realize when you’re selling your home from another city is how many little things go into prepping a home for sale. I’m not sure we could have done it if our agent wasn’t willing to skim the pool, rake leaves, and run to the locksmith. She earned every penny of her commission and then some.

John Ross, Chief Executive Officer, Test Prep Insight

Distance Makes it Difficult but Not Impossible

Selling a home is not a walk in the park; doing it remotely does not make things any easier. The biggest hurdle was making the clients know the house was for sale. Since I was not physically on-site, I was unsure if the house was still in one piece or if the former tenants had altered the home's entire setting. 

I had to notify the local authority that I was selling the property to prevent any disputes that would have arisen because of my absence. Selling remotely was easy since I did not have to move a lot. Still, when the clients needed a tour of the property, it disadvantaged me, since I could not be there to offer any clarification that they needed on any physical attributes of the home.

Remote selling also deprived me of the luxury of gauging the motivation of the prospective buyers since there was no physical interaction. The level of satisfaction with the property description via a remote platform gave a vague impression of how well they were convinced of the quality of the property.

Yongming Song, CEO, Live Poll for Slides

Used a Specialist and Could Move Smoothly

My experience selling my home remotely was a good one. I used a real estate agent who specialized in this type of sale. They came to my home and took photos and videos of the house so that potential buyers could get a good look. 

They also took measurements so that furniture could be placed in the virtual home to show how it would look in a real setting. I took a similar video of my furniture and other belongings so that buyers could see what they would get if they purchased my things.

I posted my listing on a few different sites and I got a lot of interest. Within a few months, I sold my home and all of my belongings. I could relocate to another state and settle into my new home, thanks to this experience. 

If you are thinking about selling your home remotely, I would highly recommend it. It’s a great way to connect with people who are interested in your home and other belongings.

Luciano Colos, Founder & CEO, PitchGrade

Frequently Asked Questions

In what ways does a virtual closure vary from a traditional one?

Documents for a remote closing are often signed via a website or an electronic signing service like DocuSign. Assuming the state permits RONs and the buyer and seller are comfortable closings remotely; this can be a time-saving option.

Employing a traveling notary is yet another option for completing a transaction outside of a physical meeting place. They will travel to your home or office to complete the closing, and the documents can be mailed to you, signed in the presence of a notary, and returned.

Separate closings are also an option meaning that the buyer completes the closing process at a title company's satellite location without the seller present. The vendor will then return at a later date to finalize any remaining details.

It is possible to have a "witness-only" closing, in which the notary or attorney travels to the location of the buyer and seller, where they sign documents separately, and where the notary or attorney handles the disbursements. However, the closing agent will not explain the documents you are signing in these situations (which is why they are not legal in all jurisdictions), so first-time buyers may want to attend the closing in person.

Should I sell my home remotely without a real estate agent?

It is up to you to decide whether or not to use a real estate agent when selling your home online.

Working with a realtor or real estate agent can simplify the selling process and increase the likelihood that you'll get a good price for your house.

While going it alone to sell can save you money on real estate agent commissions and other fees, it can also be challenging if you lack experience in the market. Each person's situation and the timeline for selling a home are different, so it's important to weigh all of your choices carefully before making a final decision.

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