I recently sold a beautiful home in the Monte Malaga area of Palos Verdes Estates to a buyer who closed escrow without ever seeing the home! How could we do this? With technology!
The clients were people I had worked with since 2005 who now lived in Hong Kong. Mrs. Buyer had grown up on the Palos Verdes peninsula and still has family there, so they knew the area well. They had wanted to buy a home for a long time in this area so that when Mr. Buyer’s overseas assignment ends in a few years they would have a U.S. home; they felt that given our current interest rates and the rate of appreciation of homes, that if they didn’t buy something now, they might be priced out of the market in a few years. Each time they were in town over the many years since I first met them, we would take a day and look at homes, but because they couldn’t agree on where to look, we always ended up not finding the right home.
Then this year, they were both on the same page regarding location, so the search started in earnest. Once we had identified a few possibilities, I took her Mom out with me to see each potential home, taking LOTS of video with my cell phone and uploading it to YouTube with a private URL sent only to them. This allowed the buyer and her husband (she was to be the sole buyer to simplify the tax situation) to evaluate the home choices and decide which of the ones they had liked on the internet really met their needs. Using more technology to do all the signing digitally using Docusign, and with a few late night Skype calls, some Facebook messages, some texts and Google voice calls, we were able to determine what to offer. We made an offer to close in two weeks and were able to beat out three other buyers.
Then came the fun part — inspections. This time the buyer’s Mom AND her brother came with, and were able to communicate back to the buyer and her husband what they had heard. We also did more video and more photos, more Docusigning and more late night calls. At one point, I stayed up until 3 a.m. Pacific time (which was a busy Saturday morning for my client in Hong Kong) so that I would be available to forward a time critical document on to the listing agent so that he would have it first thing in the morning as promised.
We also had to solve a tricky problem about funding transfer limits between Hong Kong and the US, but my wonderful escrow officer was able to resolve this and find the “secret sauce” of US banking regulations that allowed the transfer of the funds in a timely manner while still following all the banking rules for international money transfers.
This was an amazingly fast transaction considering that the buyer was thousands of miles away. The many forms and disclosures that are part of any California real estate transaction were flying through cyberspace on an almost hourly basis for a few days there! But I can safely say that if it wasn’t for modern technology, we never could have done this.
The buyer and her children are arriving for the Summer soon — I sure hope they like it :->