How to Sell an Oceanfront Home: 20 Steps

Selling an oceanfront home requires that you capture the interest of a segment of the population that can afford to purchase the absolute best and are willing to pay for it. Ultra high net worth individuals want to work with real estate agents of their own caliber. Accordingly, you must make your listing stand-out as one of “the very best.” They may not be in the market to buy something until they see a print ad, video or hear about a property through their personal network. It really is a matter of what captures their whim at a particular moment in time. For this reason, your marketing and advertising plan must speak to this type of individual.


Preparing the home for sale

  1. Meet with the owner and conduct a complete walk-through of the house – twice.
    An initial visit is necessary to get a general feel for the home and the layout as well as to demonstrate to the owner your attention to detail. You should have a list of follow-up questions for the seller after studying and reviewing your notes from first visit. The second visit is to video-document the owner giving a tour while you note specific finishes, appliance brands, and correct pronunciation of all features together with notes on any repairs or revisions necessary prior to presenting the house to the market.

  2. Discuss the owner’s role in preparing the house for the market. It is important to tactfully explain that even a professionally-decorated home often needs to be professionally-staged and “neutralized” in order to appeal to buyers who may not share the current owner’s specific tastes or style. Advice on any necessary repairs should be provided as

  3. Secure plans, architectural drawings, and any other pertinent information for disclosure purposes. Ask the seller in writing if there are any outstanding permits or signoffs needed for the property and/or information that could hold up a potential sale or be a risk to the new buyer. It is also recommended that you contract with the title company to have the property surveyed to ensure the property falls within the required boundary lines and/or to familiarize yourself with any unexpected easements.


  4. It is imperative that you document and understand any and all past, current or future permitting issues pertaining to the property in relation to the California Coastal Commission “CCC” and the City in which the property is located. CCC requirements can vary significantly from City requirements. You should research and request documentation regarding any incidents of bluff failure and make sure they are documented in writing on the disclosures. Be aware that not all permits are permanent. They often expire and may need to be re-applied for. The cost of the permit may also change and vary from year to year. Be aware of any current litigation regarding CCC and oceanfront owners, being sure to direct any buyers to conduct their due diligence and research. Monitoring reports are also a requirement for many properties with seawalls. Your seller needs to be aware of this requirement and be able to document that the monitoring reports have been completed as required. If they have not been completed, be sure to have the seller complete one prior to listing. You must also disclose to the new buyer the requirement to complete these monitoring reports going forward. Always recommend any buyer or seller consult with a qualified coastal consultant to familiarize oneself with the requirements and risks associated with owning an oceanfront home. Just because a property does not have a seawall does not mean it will never need one. Never speculate or make any sort of statement or guaranty as to the condition of the bluff or seawall.

  5. Discuss the seller’s preference with regard to showings and notifications of showings. Be sure to include that information in your MLS notes. Obtain permission and seller’s preference for anyone other than yourself to be present at the property. Do not assume other agents from your brokerage are permitted at the property. All showings should be by appointment only with you, the listing agent present. The seller should be notified immediately upon your departure of each showing with a note that the home has been properly secured.

  6. As with any listing, agreement on an appropriate price is vital. Determination of this price should be the result of research – not emotion. Gather as much information on comparable sales and currently relevant listings as necessary to substantiate your recommendation to the sellers.


  7. Effective marketing begins with professional photography and staging; so as soon as the house is ready, schedule a photo shoot. Remember to wait until preparation and staging is finished. Staging in an oceanfront house invites visitors to sit down, relax, and enjoy it in a larger, psychological-sense.

  8. Select the most ideal photos and prepare your printed materials, your Internet stills, and a virtual tour to lead prospects through the home, allowing them to see themselves living in the property and enjoying the views. Using Matterport Digital 3-D Technology, you can also provide visitors with a fully-immersive 3-D virtual tour of each room of the house– all of which allows them to experience the layout of the rooms and see how each is connected to the larger property from the comfort of their own home.

  9. Hire a professional videographer immediately upon securing the listing to create a video for the property. Meet with the videographer beforehand to discuss your vision for the property as well as to highlight the areas of the property you want to focus on. Be sure to create a script for yourself prior to the shoot so that you are prepared and avoid unnecessary delays. The video should also be sent to the seller for approval prior to posting. The video is a lengthy process and should be started immediately after the home has been staged.

  10. Hire a professional writer to create an enticing description to accompany your photos. Your job is not to relay mere facts, but to paint an attractive pictorial description of the property . For instance, the description could state that the home is perfect for those who love light.  And go on to say “Expansive open spaces, vaulted ceilings, and wall-to-wall disappearing glass doors afford unparalleled opportunities to enjoy breathtaking ocean views…” This sort of description helps a potential buyer truly get a feeling for the unique and attractive features of the specific property. Be sure to include information provided by the client about the special finishes, appliances, etc.


  11. Build a custom website for the home that features the photos, the video and the description. See for an example. If the property has a sign in the front yard purchase a rider and add the website URL to the rider so buyers driving by can visit the website.

  12. Create a custom marketing plan in writing and send it to the seller for review. The marketing plan should read like a business plan with detailed points on how you will achieve the highest and best price for the property.

  13. Furnish the seller with all disclosures and stress their importance. Be sure to receive them back, complete and error-free, before the listing launches. When talking with the sellers, stress the importance of disclosures in keeping them safe from potential lawsuits. It is far safer to disclose a potential problem than to let buyers discover it later.

  14. Present your new listing via MLS, company website, , top Internet real estate portals, and its own property-specific website. Post to, thereby exposing your new listing to 500,000 International Agents.

  15. Showings: Always arrive to the property at least one hour early to make sure the home is in the best condition possible. Turn on all lights as well as fire or water features and any audio-visual systems. Have plenty of marketing pieces ready and be prepared to greet the buyers by name , welcoming them to the property by address such as “Welcome to 700 Neptune Avenue.” Contact leading area buyers’ agents. Personally invite them to the broker caravan. Hand-deliver them brochures when they walk in the door.

  16. Contact all your own potential homebuyers and investors and invite them to a special, private tour of the property.

  17. Host the broker caravan and open houses. The broker caravan should be an event and you will want to enlist help on the day of to ensure the house is ready, the food is set up nicely and the house is ready upon your arrival. Have at least 1-2 agents from your office at the caravan for security purposes as well as to prevent yourself from appearing rushed or unable to have conversations with each agent that comes through. You will follow up immediately after the broker caravan to provide feedback for the seller as well as following up with a formal, written summary. Open Houses will be at the seller’s discretion. Be aware of their wishes when taking the listing.


  18. Follow up on all leads. It is crucial that you document all follow up in writing for the seller and for your own marketing purposes should the price of the property change during the listing period.

  19. Gather offers, present them to the seller, and assist them in accepting or countering the best of all presented.

  20. Negotiate well; come to agreement; then give your transaction to your coordinator for processing and follow-up.

  21. Attend the closing and shake hands with your happy sellers. You should coordinate a time to meet personally with your seller to congratulate them in person and deliver a thoughtful gift. Birthdates, anniversaries and children’s information etc. should be collected for follow-up and staying in touch. Plan another date at the final meeting so that you have a set plan to see them again to check in and see how they are doing.


Successfully marketing and selling an oceanfront home requires more from you as an agent, and it follows that the financial and career rewards are great. Not only will you earn more money, your successful sale will put you in a position to receive referrals to even more high net worth individuals.