You’ve worked hard to save now you want it to go as far as you can to fulfill that dream of owning your own home. Why rely on just someone, when you can have the best. Quality representation costs no more, its what you deserve. Here are some things to think about before going any further:
- What can you afford? It is important to know how much home you can/want to afford. Buying a home in San Francisco can be confusing, so be prepared with those things you have control over beforehand by speaking with a mortgage broker. This will let you focus on properties in your price range, and you will have a better idea of which homes are really available to you.
- You found the perfect place online! Using the internet is the way people search for homes, but regardless of how many pretty pictures are on a site it won’t give you an idea of how the home is truly laid out, the feel. You have to go see properties in person!
- Knowledge is power! See every listing available in the neighborhoods you are interested in that fit your parameters. When starting the process of buying a home, figure out what parameters are important to you: number of bedrooms, bathrooms, parking, yard, etc. You need to get an idea for yourself of how San Francisco homes are priced and why.
- The right realtor will be invaluable to you when navigating the San Francisco real estate market. The realtor hired by the seller (the listing agent) has already negotiated the fee upfront that he/she will split with the buyer’s agent (your agent), so in many ways your realtor will work for you without you having to pay for it. A good realtor knows the market, and will help you understand what is normal in that particular area, and when it comes down to it that is what you want to know…are you being treated fairly in the market.
- So how do you find a good realtor? If you don’t have a relationship with a realtor already, and an uncle or friend may not be the best choice, meeting one at open houses can be a great way to find a good match (see number 3). You are going to count on your realtor, so you ought to like them and be comfortable they are looking out for your interests.
- How do I know I am being treated fairly? There are bad players in every business, and real estate is no different. Still realtors and sellers are required to make you aware of all the material facts concerning a given property. That means that if a window leaked 3 years ago, and they had it repaired, or the neighbors dog barks but only in the middle of the night, they need to let you know about it.
- Disclosures? If you find a property that you really like ask your realtor to get a disclosure package, read through it, and if the property is still interesting to you, write an offer. The escrow period is there for you to figure out if everything adds up about the house like it should. A Purchase Offer should not be written frivolously, but the period between finding a home and getting into escrow is the honeymoon period where you are trying to get the seller to agree to deal with you. Escrow is when you really figure out the details.
- Should I do an inspection? Always have an inspection. The inspection will allow you to step out of the deal if you uncover something you were not aware of before (see number 6), it could also give you the opportunity to renegotiate. The real estate market in San Francisco can be fast paced, but unless you have a lot of experience buying homes it’s important to have an inspection contingency; it also let’s you find out useful information about the home like where the gas shut off is.
- Why is it taking so long? Everything that seems like it should be quick and easy isn’t. This applies double to lending. Unless you are paying for the home with cash you will have to jump through hoops for the lender. Rates are amazingly low right now, but it is also much more difficult to find lending. We had a client who couldn’t qualify for a loan because he bought a washer/dryer during escrow!
- How do I protect my investment? Everyone wants to buy a home that will be a good investment, but unless you are an investor don’t buy the home you are going to live in solely as an investment. The important thing is, will you be happy living in your new home. What I have noticed is that people who really enjoyed living in their home are usually able to find buyers who want their home when it’s time to sell.
From A to Z, the A B Z’s of real estate know your satisfaction is our goal. Ackerman/Burgelman and Zephyr!