You genuinely want to buy a home in San Francisco. Maybe you’ve been looking for a while, but haven’t been successful to date. Or you’re planning to kick off your home search in 2018. How do you know whether you’ll ultimately get what you want?
I’ve been selling real estate in the city for more than 15 years, and I’ve learned that it takes more than the will to purchase a home to actually land one. Whether you’re poised to succeed on the housing front comes down to five key factors:
1. You’ve been preapproved for a loan. I often sound like a broken record with this one, but you really can’t get around it if you don’t have all cash. You absolutely need to know what you’re qualified to purchase, and have a firm understanding of what your monthly payments, property taxes, and insurance costs will be. You can’t negotiate on price unless you know your true price range. Connect with a reputable local lender and get the paperwork out of the way. He or she will run your credit, and the best lenders will put your application through underwriting before you’re even in contract so you can be competitive when you write an offer.
2. You have a real estate agent. Roaming the open house circuit is fun when it’s early on and you’re looking for something to do after brunch. But if you’re serious, you’ll be hitting opens with a short list of strong possibilities that you’ve already evaluated with your agent. And you aren’t just limiting yourself to Sunday afternoons; you’re making time to meet your agent at private showings after work or even hitting broker opens with your agent on a Tuesday.
3. You can afford what you want. Study comparable sales with your agent to figure out where your budget will take you. For example, if you’re seeking a three-bedroom house in Bernal Heights right now, know that the average price is $1,645,000. If your purchasing power is nowhere near that, it might be a good idea to expand your geographical area to the south and not spin wheels. Zero in on comparable sales you could’ve seen yourself buying, and make sure your budget is in line with what you like.
4. You have a timeframe. “I’m not in a rush” is not your mantra. Serious buyers set a timeframe for their purchase. Maybe you want to get started after the new year and be in your new place by Spring. Or you want to get settled before the holidays. Set your timing goal at the outset, and make home buying a priority.
5. You’re willing to make trade-offs and compromises. I have news: Very few people find the “perfect” home. There are pros and cons, and you have to figure out what you can live with. For example, you need parking and the condo you like comes with tandem parking. Not ideal, but workable when you consider you’ll also be getting in-unit laundry, low HOA dues and outdoor space. Come to terms with the fact that San Francisco properties are not cookie cutter, have their quirks and demand careful consideration when it comes to the details.
I’m currently taking on new buyer clients for 2018, so give me a shout at email@example.com | 415.823.4656 if you’d like to sit down and chat about your plans.