Category Archives: Buying/Selling Techniques

Buying A Home In San Francisco – Step 5 And Beyond: Depends On How Step 4 Goes

question

There is one guarantee after writing an offer on a property in San Francisco, and that is there is no guarantee you’ll get the property. With multiple offers all too common, sellers holding the upper hand, extremely low inventory, and thousands of buyers in the market, writing an offer is only part of the property winning (yes, we use the term winning) equation.

So what is the next step, then? The only certainty is if your offer was rejected, you can shuffle back up to Step 3 and start the touring again. There is a learning curve in San Francisco real estate, and you likely won’t get the first place you go for. Patience is paramount, and communication is key. Stay in touch with your Realtor (because now you have one), and keep hope alive. You will get there in the end. It may just take more time than you had expected.

If your offer was not rejected, and you’re the lucky winner, there are so many different steps that could happen next, we need not mention them in detail here. Things like: did you receive a counter offer; was the counter offer a multiple counter offer; have you been offered what is called “backup”; did your offer include inspections; how much time do you have to remove contingencies; do you need to sell your own home; is the seller asking for a “rent back”; so on and so forth. It is here that you will see value in a Realtor, and why we are so very comfortable giving you all of the tools you need to find your property on your own, online.

In the end, there will be about 10-20 more steps (at least) before getting keys to your home, and you’re going to need someone to guide you, because the process is so very not cut and dry, and we hope to earn your business. Feel free to learn more about us here, and read some testimonials here. Or better yet, drop us a line so we can chat about what you need.

If all you do is read these steps, set out on your own, find your own Realtor, and never contact us…we truly wish you the best of luck!

-Buying a Home In San Francisco – Step 1: Get Pre-Approved / Provide Proof Of Funds [theFrontSteps]
-Buying a Home In San Francisco – Step 2: Get New Listings Fed To You Automatically [theFrontSteps]
-Buying A Home In San Francisco – Step 3: Go See Some Property [theFrontSteps]
-Buying A Home In San Francisco – Step 4: Make An Offer (Choose A Realtor) [theFrontSteps]

Buying A Home In San Francisco – Step 4: Make An Offer (Choose A Realtor)

Here you are, having completed Step 1, Step 2, and Step 3 of the home buying process in San Francisco. Now what?

This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. You’ve found the perfect (or almost perfect) property, you’re educated on the market, you’ve seen what other comparable properties are selling for, you love the area, the price is right, and you’re ready to go for it. Even though you could have theoretically made it this far without a Realtor, now you need one. You can choose to work with the agent listing the property, or you can hire your wife’s brother’s best friend’s uncle (it happens), or you can simply look no further. (If you’ve read this far, we’re practically best buds anyway.)

Working with a Realtor is going to give you the absolute best shot at securing a property in this competitive market. We could share our secrets of success and how to make your offer as “strong” as you can, but why would we do something silly like letting what could be your competition know how we’re going to play this game?

You can certainly attempt to represent yourself in writing, and presenting an offer too, but I’d say don’t waste your time, or the listing agent’s time. Either hire a Realtor, or work with the listing agent. Our market is so competitive that any money you think you’ll be saving by claiming to represent yourself will be money the listing agent might lose for their seller, or money they could have earned for themselves, so we’re totally comfortable sending you packing. In a stack of 15 offers, you representing yourself will certainly be put at the very bottom. Sad, but true.

So what price should you offer? That’s a tricky question, that depends a lot on how busy or attractive a property is, how long it’s been on the market, has the price been reduced, did it just come back on the market, etc. If you come across a property that has only been marketed two weeks, offers are being accepted on a certain day, and the agent tells you there has been about 250 people through the property, they’ve handed out 30 disclosure packages, and they expect to realistically receive 15 offers…don’t offer asking price! You’re dreaming!

We could go on and on about writing an offer, selecting a price, reviewing disclosures, and everything that goes into presenting an offer, but you’re better off just knowing writing an offer is the next step, and you’re going to want to have a Realtor on your side.

Step 5 is coming soon, so check back, or grab our RSS, and get new updates via email.

-Buying a Home In San Francisco – Step 1: Get Pre-Approved / Provide Proof Of Funds [theFrontSteps]
-Buying a Home In San Francisco – Step 2: Get New Listings Fed To You Automatically [theFrontSteps]
-Buying A Home In San Francisco – Step 3: Go See Some Property [theFrontSteps]

Buying A Home In San Francisco – Step 2: Get New Listings Fed To You Automatically

Yesterday, we educated you on the first and most important step in the San Francisco home buying process, so today we’re moving on…

Step 2 – Get New Listings Fed To You Automatically (via Email or Text)

stuffing-his-face

Our market moves fast, and so must you. You might have thought the next step would be to contact a Realtor. You can certainly do this now, but it’s not necessary. You can preview all the property you want yourself, right here online, and very soon we’ll show you just how easy it is to get dialed in to seeing these homes on your own.

So how do you get these new listings “fed” to you?
a. Get dialed into MLS. Contact us with your criteria (desired # of beds, baths, parking spaces, size, price, location, and your email) and we can set you up with behind the scenes access to what we call our “Client Portal”. You’ll receive new listings to your inbox the second they hit MLS, you can save, reject, and track what properties are selling for (very important), and you can request showings from within the application. This way, you’ll also be on our radar for potential off market matches should any pop up.
b. A different variation of the same theme, but without the need to contact anyone. It’s called MyZephyr, and you can get alerts, save, search, and track property from the comfort of your own home. The only downfall to this, is that we have so many people in this system using this tool, we simply do not have time to track your activity (some might consider this a plus), and therefore we probably won’t know who you are should something great pop up “not on MLS”.
c. Browse MLS: Even less intrusive, and way more stealth, MLS is actually there and available to you 24/7. No really…it is.
d. Redfin. Hands down the best way to search property if you’re not searching with one of the tools provided above. It’s a great site, with a ton of great info, and incredibly accurate data. If you don’t choose a. or b. above, use this over option c. It’s better.
e. Trulia, Zillow, or Realtor.com. These three are crap, inaccurate, and not worth your time. The only saving grace is Trulia’s community or “Voices” area. There is some good info to be found there. Zillow Zestimates are awful, and when we’re sipping a Cerveza after we hand you the keys to your house, we’ll make sure the beers are on you if you mention one word about “but the Zestimate said it’s worth this.”

What about all of the “off market” listings that are becoming so popular, and how do you get clued in to them?
a. PocketListings.net: It’s growing, more agents are using it, and you (the buyer) can certainly browse it for “off market” opportunities. You can follow PocketListings on Twitter for instant notification of new listings, and you can even have your “buyer need” added to it…but for that you’ll need a Realtor.
b. A Realtor: At this stage, there is no way around it, and it’s the very reason Pocket Listings are growing in popularity…Realtors are taking back the control of their listings, and they’re doing this to keep themselves relevant. Listing aggregators like Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, and Realtor.com don’t always portray the most accurate data, agent contact info, pictures, and local information. The system needs to change, and Realtors are taking it back. And guess what? A human is actually a really useful tool in the home searching process and if you find the right one, said human can provide a wealth of accurate and opinionated information. If you want off market opportunities, and want to truly feel like you’re getting in the loop of what most people aren’t, you need a Realtor. If you want to just browse MLS, PocketListings.net, and go at your own pace, you can still get by without contacting one.

So now you’ve proven to all involved you have the money, you’re getting listings fed to you from all angles, and you’re ready to take the next step…Check back tomorrow, and we’ll let you know what to do.

A Few Things To Consider When You’re Considering Selling Your Home

This is a video that every home seller everywhere, in every market, in every price level needs to watch. There is so much good information along the lines of “you just gotta do it”, and take the advice of the expert (your Realtor) when doing so. We know what we’re doing, and we’re here to get you the most money possible when we list your house for sale.

One very notable quote in regards to getting inspections done on your own home prior to listing it for sale, and fixing those items, “For every dollar it’s going to cost me to fix something, a buyer is going to want three.”

The video will play (on a new page) after you get through the annoying ad. But trust me, if you’re at all considering selling your home, you need to watch this. Keep in mind Barbara is flush with lots of money, and she could afford to simply walk away from the home, but she’s taking the advice and doing it right.

Barbara Corcoran sells her house…take the same advice

San Francisco Real Estate Market Update, Recent Sales, And IPO Madness

Another week, another issue of sfnewsletter sent. All kinds of great market info and real estate p*rn for you to peruse. Including many off market opportunities I’ve already mentioned here.

Have a great weekend!

-Latest issue of sfnewsletter/MarketTracker

San Francisco Fog, Wind, And Micro-Climates…So Where Should You Buy Your Home?

Long time readers will remember this one…

avgtemp1

We get these kind of inquiries all the time, and it’s certainly something up for debate, as we all have our own comfort levels as to what is considered warm or “nice”. Heck, Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction lives in Sunny warm L.A., but by following his Twitter feed, you’d think he’s better suited for living in foggy Outer Sunset of San Francisco. So a reader brings up the question and maybe this time we’ll get some definitive answers as to just how different one district’s weather is from the other. (We’re going to ask for a little link help from our friends at Curbed Sf and SFist to help spread the word.):

I’m looking to buy and comparing districts, everyone says : Mission and Noe are much warmer, get more sun,…

Is there a good resource that shows sun-hours and temperature (average/per month) like this below would, but by district:
Climate in San Francisco County

It would be quite interesting to many buyers I think!

Thanks

J

Our answer, take a look at the San Francisco Districts Map (as it pertains to real estate). Take a ruler, draw a straight line from District 7a (Marina) to district 3J (Oceanview). Anything to the left (west), cold(er) and windy most of the year. Anything to the right (east), warm(er) and windy most of the year.
Simple as that?

We’re thinking there should be a lot more little red lines running all over this map, but the simpleton in us said to do it this way…

I had a little extra time on my hands while child #2 napped. Basic, rudimentary mockup here:

Yellow circles are generally where it is warmer. Arrows indicate wind. The larger the arrow, the stronger the wind. The white line down the middle is generally the fog line.

This is by no means 100% accurate and the fog, sun, and wind in San Francisco always find a way to do unexpected things in unexpected places. So don’t sue me if you buy a home in the yellow circle and you wake up one morning to the fog.

Buying San Francisco Real Estate Is As Easy As…Not Giving Up Before You Start!

I’ve been getting a few phone calls and emails from potential buyers looking to get into the San Francisco market, and their general mood is that of despair…mostly because of my latest posts about how hot the market (particularly Cole Valley) is right now. I’ll just come right out and apologize for giving the impression that we are back to the days of boom. We are not.

As is the case with our weather here in San Francisco on any given day, there are pockets of sunshine, and clouds of rain. While nicely presented (staged) homes, in great locations, marketed at competitive prices (whether $400,000 or $4,000,000) are practically flying off the shelf with all cash/zero contingency offers, there are certainly countless numbers of not so lucky homes and sellers that either missed the mark with pricing, timing, or presentation, and those homes are getting stale, dropping prices, and selling for much less than asking…if they sell at all. Depending on when the seller purchased it, often many homes are selling for much less than what the seller paid! So it’s definitely not all roses all across the board.

With that said, what can you do to increase your chances of buying a piece of San Francisco real estate. The most important thing for you to do as a buyer is get pre-approved with a good, reputable, local lender or mortgage broker (I can recommend a few). Getting pre-approved doesn’t cost you a dime. Don’t even look at homes until you know without a shadow of a doubt what you can afford. That includes browsing online on Trulia or Zillow.

Once you have taken the pre-approval step, there are tools available to get you searching for the most accurate, up to the minute listings both on MLS, and “off market“.

Once you have an idea of what it is you can both afford, and what it is you desire, you should absolutely get in touch with a licensed real estate professional to help you find and secure your property. You can certainly try to go it alone, but when it comes time to write an offer, 99% of the listing agents out there are going to prefer to work with someone that is represented by a Realtor, rather than someone that thinks they can do it alone. Put two identical offers on the table. One from a buyer that has an agent who knows the game, and the other from a buyer wanting to represent themselves to “save” some money and nine out of 10 agents will go with the Realtor represented buyer all day long. If you want to go discount, go Redfin. At least you’ll have an agent representing you.

Once you’ve selected your agent (It’s like dating, so don’t just go “top producer” or “market specialist”…find someone you can spend hours hanging out with. Someone that might share similar interests.), work with them using all of the tools available to both of you, and be in touch frequently. Understand the market fluctuates day to day. Know that while some properties will receive multiple offers, some won’t, and gauging at what price a home will sell in such a market is often difficult and not as easy as 1+1=2. Running and analyzing comparable sales is only half of the story (our market now is much more robust than only a few short months ago in what should have been a busy October). Be ready to act quickly, and be flexible with regards to what times you are available to tour homes. See any, and as many homes as you can that might be a match.

When you find the home you like…don’t hesitate. It could be gone the next day. Make an offer, consider shortening any and all contingencies, and be prepared to go back and forth on price and terms. Don’t take it personally! Every buyer wants a good deal, and every seller wants top dollar. It will get heated.

If you don’t get the property, don’t dwell on it. There will be more opportunity…I promise. Move on. If you do get the property…well that’s another blog post altogether.

Don’t get discouraged by my stories of multiple offers, cash buyers, and an ultra-competitive market. As much as those stories are happening, there are also many more stories of Stalefish homes finally being sold after many, many months on the market. There are foreclosures (good luck with those), short sales, and many off market opportunities. You just gotta know where to look, have patience, money, and determination. Your property is out there. Don’t give up based on a few blog posts about a hot, hot market. And definitely don’t give up before you start.

-Four buyers in four days, and 121 Beulah. How did it end. [theFrontSteps]
-Factoring weather when buying a home in San Francisco is anything but simple. [theFrontSteps]
-Search MLS
-Search Not on MLS

Wanted: John Maniscalco (Designed Home)

It’s good to be loved…especially when you have buyers out there looking for one of your previously designed homes. In this case, the love is for a John Maniscalco designed residence like this…

…or perhaps, since it did just snow up Tahoe way, a little ski hut to get you through the winter…

Property owners looking to quietly part ways with your John Maniscalco drool home, your buyer is out there and they have $2,100,000 to burn. Nobody has to know.

-John Maniscalco Architecture [Highly recommend you take a look at this site if you are a fan of modern, clean, beautiful designs.]
-Buyer looking for John Maniscalco designed residence [PocketListings.net]

When Someone Hands You Lemons….

Do you, my dear readers, remember this property I mentioned back in July?

I showed it to a couple of buyers that came forward after that post. It didn’t work for them for various reasons, but at least they came forward and saw the opportunities I’ve been presenting you. The rest of you will now have to fight it out with the masses as the property is now on the MLS and asking $2,150,000.

Do you, my dear readers, remember this post I did back in May?

That was an opportunity to snag 2975 Lake before the rest.

I had four buyers come forward for the opportunity on that property, but it too didn’t work out for them for various reasons. It soon hit MLS for $2,980,000, and was in contract a mere seven days later.

Do you, my dear readers, remember this Fixer of Epic Proportions I featured, and Yahoo! picked up?

I showed it to a couple of developers that came forward, but it too didn’t work out for them for various reasons.

Four days ago I posted about this opportunity in Liberty Heights, and have showed one buyer through the property, as a result. I have this condo for sale at 88 King Street, this one at 200 Townsend, I brought you this fabulous Marina Blvd home, as well as this amazing unit at 200 Brannan, this home in Tiburon, and an entirely new website dedicated to getting you, the buyer and seller, more real estate opportunities to fall in your lap. Is your Realtor working that hard for you?

I have multiple opportunities always on the back burner for multiple buyers and sellers. If you’re ready to work with me, I’m ready to work with you. I would encourage you and your friends/family to contact me before you miss out on another great San Francisco real estate opportunity.

…end shameless self-promotion here.

-Completely Remodeled Noe Valley Home With High Definition Views For Sale [theFrontSteps]
-471 Duncan, Noe Valley [Property Website]
-2975 Lake [MLS]
-Mid Century Modern With An Emphasis On Modern [theFrontSteps]
-88 King Street #206, $849,000 [theFrontSteps]
-200 Townsend #47, $499,000 [theFrontSteps]
-Marina Blvd For The America’s Cup [theFrontSteps]
-200 Brannan [theFrontSteps]
-PocketListings.net

Ask Us: Does Blogging Work For Real Estate?

Where readers ask, and we try to answer:

Hello Alex,

I came across theFrontSteps today while researching local real estate blogs. My mother is an agent in NJ and she came to me about advice on creating a blog and testing other social media channels to help her business. I figured I’d research what others are doing and your blog is one of the best I’ve come across so far. Well done!

I’ve got a lot of experience in creating blogs and online marketing, so have a pretty good idea of the direction I’d suggest she take. Just thought I’d go straight to a source to see if anyone is having success with real estate blogs. My one question is – does it work? Are you gaining (great) leads from the search engines and your blog? I certainly understand if you’d rather not divulge.

Feel free to reach out to me with any questions you might have on blogging and online marketing. I’ve been in the industry for 12 years now.

Cheers,
-T

Dear T,

Thanks for the kind words and writing in. Glad you were able to find us and glad you like what you see. Your question couldn’t have been more timely as we were preparing a post on this very topic. The long and short of it…YES! This site is a tremendous source of quality leads, and if we chose to chase every lead down I’d certainly be one of the Top Producing agents in the city, but somehow leisurely activities like surfing, skiing, and golf seem to continually get in the way. ;-)

Some examples of what kind of business this blog brings in: We received a lead to price (and eventually sell) a $2.4M condo at the St. Regis, which led us to meet a buyer at the open house, who then went on to purchase a $1.6M home on a hill; A lead came in because of the Tour de San Francisco I used to write and just yesterday we closed on a $3+M pad in Palo Alto, and those clients are dear friends now; To put icing on the cake, a deal was closed last year based off a lead that came as a result of this blog and a few Tweets on Twitter.

So the answer is a resounding YES! It works, and it works well. Almost too well. I feel badly for the readers and potential clients that contact us and we let slip through the cracks. Sorry all…it’s not personal.

Oh, and by the way. I came across the below blog while researching. Looks like they have good content and a decent readership. They just closed shop. Might be worth looking into acquiring.??

San Francisco Schtuff

Best,
T

Thanks for the tip…we like, but can’t afford, their Schtuff. ;-)