Why Your Appraisal Matters in a Home Purchase

It’s important to understand the major contingencies in a purchase agreement, and one of the most important ones is the appraisal.

All lenders will require that a licensed appraiser determine the value of the property. This appraisal represents an unbiased and objective value opinion. The appraiser studies recent comparable sales in the neighborhood, making adjustments for various attributes such as number of bedrooms, bathrooms, parking, remodeling and the like. In the end, he or she arrives at a value for the property, which will hopefully be at least what you’re paying. (The appraisal can sometimes end up being more than you’re paying, which is great for you but doesn’t affect the loan.)

The appraiser submits the appraisal document to the lender, whose underwriter reviews the material. If the appraisal is “at value” for the price you’re paying, the underwriter will approve the appraisal—or could require more time if they have any issues with the content. If the appraisal is under the value you’re paying, the bank won’t kick in the difference. It will then be up to the buyer to bring in more money, or potentially negotiate with the seller to reduce the price. [Read more...]

How to Evaluate a Condo and HOA

There are always more condos than single-family homes available at any given point in time. And condos are the most popular property type in San Francisco, especially for first-time home buyers who want to be in popular, central neighborhoods. But before you rush out and write an offer on one, it’s important to consider the complexity of owning this type of property.

Here’s a quick condo primer that will help you evaluate the fundamentals of a unit and its homeowners association (HOA). [Read more...]

Contract Contingencies Protect Your Deposit

When you submit an offer for a property, your contract will most likely have some contingencies, which are conditions of the sale. These contingencies exist to ultimately protect your good faith deposit in the event that you discover, for example, unacceptable property issues, end up with an appraised value that is less than the amount you’re offering, or suddenly can’t obtain financing.

But let’s back up. In a San Francisco purchase, it’s required to include a deposit equal to three percent of your purchase price. If your offer is accepted, you transfer that money via a wire or check into an escrow account held by a title company. In the event you back out of the sale for a reason other than a specified contingency, the seller is technically entitled to retain that deposit for what is called “liquidated damages.”

The primary contingencies in the purchase agreement are typically that of the inspection, appraisal and loan. If you include these conditions and decide to back out due to one or more of them, the sale will be cancelled and the deposit rightfully returned. [Read more...]

Spotlight on The Mission, Latest Sales & More!

The latest Zephyr Market Tracker shines the spotlight on the Mission, from what’s happening in the new “Mission Creek” microhood to the deets on one of the hottest new condo developments.

And you can also check out the most recent sales across the city, too. It’s all here in the Zephyr Market Tracker!

Smackdown: Forest Hill House vs Lake Condo

Welcome to our $1.4M smackdown, pitting one one house in need of updating vs one condo that’s good to go, in two different but equally tony neighborhoods. Which property would you choose?

Contestant #1
30 Santa Rita Avenue
Forest Hill
4BR/2.5BA, 2078 sq ft
$1,395,000
30santarita
This Spanish-Mediterranean “diamond in the rough” on a lovely tree-lined block of Forest Hill is perfect for buyers looking for a house with good bones that would vastly benefit from a sound remodel. One key factor is that all four bedrooms and two bathrooms are upstairs on the same level, including a master with sweeping views of Twin Peaks.

Contestant #2
66 5th Avenue
Lake District
3BR/1.5BA, 1599 sq ft, 1 pkg
$1,399,000
66_5th
Located on a prime north of Lake block, 66 5th Avenue is a large condo that opens directly on to its own private deck and garden. The master bedroom also opens to a deck and has nice yard access; the third bedroom has no closet and is probably best for an office or baby’s room. There’s also a huge private storage room and independent parking. Half a block to the Presidio and about three blocks to the restaurants and shops on Clement. This unit was last sold in…July 2013 for $1,422,000.

So which one would you buy?

My Clients Remodel With Amazing Results

My clients purchased a single-family home in the Crocker Amazon neighborhood last year, and aimed to complete an extensive remodel prior to moving in. They just moved in a few weeks ago, and I stopped in to see the renovations this week.

This was an older house that sorely needed a new kitchen, bathroom, and a better “flow.” My clients worked with their contractor to totally revamp the kitchen, move doorways, add closet space and create a more open living/dining room area, among the more major items. They agreed to let me post a few before and after photos, as I thought it would be cool for my readers to see just what you can do when you buy a cosmetic fixer.

The living room got a fireplace facelift, with lovely stonework, a darker wood stain and new wall color:
lvroom_before

lroom_after

[Read more...]

Another Jaw Dropper in Bernal

315coleridge
The San Francisco market has been somewhat off the hook in 2014, with eye-popping sales happening in full force in seemingly every neighborhood in the city. But even I’m caught off guard by some buyers’ willingness to fork over disarming amounts of money on certain properties.

Case in point: The 3BR/2BA, 1358-square foot home on 315 Coleridge. Sold in January 2012 for $850,000, the house had two bedrooms and one bath on the main level, a remodeled kitchen and a bedroom/bath on the garage level. Outdoor space consisted of a small patio area just outside the main level, with stairs going up to a deck with views.

Fast forward to March 2014, when 315 Coleridge was listed for $1,150,000. The selling price? $1,501,000. I would have liked to been at the table when that winning offer was revealed.

RSVP This Week for Home Buyer Boot Camp!

Time is running out for RSVPs—Get in shape for the Spring real estate market by attending our Home Buyer Boot Camp! Back by popular demand, Boot Camp will whip you through the ins and outs of getting financing, writing a winning offer and completing a smooth transaction. We’ll give you tons of practical, useful information you won’t find anywhere else.

Here are the deets:
Date: Saturday, April 19th
Time: 10:00-noon
Place: 1746 18th Street (betw Arkansas & Carolina in Potrero Hill)
Your Hosts: Yours truly, blogger-Realtor Eileen Bermingham of Zephyr Real Estate, and loan extraordinaire Mike Koran of Primary Residential Mortgage.

We’ll have refreshments and we won’t make you do push-ups. RSVP today to Eileen at ebermingham@zephyrsf.com, or call/text at 415.823.4656. I’ll confirm your reservation. Space fills up quickly, so please RSVP as soon as you can so we can guarantee you a seat.

What You Could’ve Bought: For Under the List Price

Buyers are paying an average of 12% over asking for houses and 10% for condos in the current San Francisco market. So I always catch a little thrill when I spot properties that sell for under the list price.

A handful of homes sold for under asking in April in popular neighborhoods. Let’s take a look at some sales that were possible without overbidding and waiving contingencies:

301 Main #20B
South Beach

List Price: $2.1M
Sale Price: $1,975,000
Days on Market (DOM): 50
Cash Sale: Yes
301Main_20B
Shed no tears for this seller, who managed to flip this unit for significantly more money. Purchased in October 2013 for $1.6M, this 2BR/2BA unit at The Infinity was listed again in February for $2.1M. That price apparently didn’t fly, but $1,975,000 did. If there’s ever a case that needs to be made for the strength of the 2014 market, #20B is a good sale to reference. [Read more...]

Latest SF Sales, Spotlight on SoMa

Who doesn’t love to look at sales reports hot off the presses? This edition of the Zephyr Market Tracker shows you what sold, and for how much above or below the list price.

We also look at what’s for sale in SoMa, and what Project Open Hand recently did for the community.

It’s all here in the Zephyr Market Tracker!

RSVP for Home Buyer Boot Camp!

Get in shape for the Spring real estate market by attending our Home Buyer Boot Camp! Back by popular demand, Boot Camp will whip you through the ins and outs of getting financing, writing a winning offer and completing a smooth transaction. We’ll give you tons of practical, useful information you won’t find anywhere else.

Here are the deets:
Date: Saturday, April 19th
Time: 10:00-noon
Place: 1746 18th Street (betw Arkansas & Carolina in Potrero Hill)
Your Hosts: Yours truly, blogger-Realtor Eileen Bermingham of Zephyr Real Estate, and loan extraordinaire Mike Koran of Primary Residential Mortgage.

We’ll have refreshments and we won’t make you do push-ups. RSVP today to Eileen at ebermingham@zephyrsf.com, or call/text at 415.823.4656. I’ll confirm your reservation. Space fills up quickly, so please RSVP as soon as you can so we can guarantee you a seat.

Where’s 2014 Going in SF Real Estate?

The first quarter of 2014 is history, but the sales stats and other market conditions I’m experiencing give us an idea as to where the market is heading this year.

Let’s take a look at activity for single-family homes and condos first:
Single-Family Home Market
# Sold: 442
Average Price: $1,401,901
Percentage of Cash Sales: 25%
# Homes Sold for $1M or Less: 226
Where to Buy for $1M or Less: Outer Parkside/Sunset; Parkside/Central Sunset; Merced Heights; Ingleside; Midtown Terrace; Miraloma Park; Sunnyside; Bayview; Crocker Amazon; Excelsior; Outer Mission; Visitacion Valley; Portola; Silver Terrace.
Volume Lower, Prices Higher: It was full speed ahead for the single-family home market in the first quarter. Though volume was down slightly from the first quarter of 2013 when 497 houses sold, the average price was up from $1,164,962 (Q1 2013). Of the 109 cash sales, more than half were for homes above $1M, including a $10M home on Green Street in Pacific Heights and a $7M property on Duncan in Noe Valley. [Read more...]

What You Can Buy: For Up to $500,000

symphonytowers
The average condo price in San Francisco in the first quarter was just over $1M, and for houses, it was around $1.4M. So what can you buy if you can afford…half that amount or less?

I surveyed first-quarter sales to nail down specifics about what you can expect to be available in the $500,000 range. So let’s get to the point and look at each property category. [Read more...]