Don’t Forget About Lofts in San Francisco

49zoe
Lofts have always been one of my favorite types of homes in San Francisco. With their high ceilings, open spaces and large windows, lofts always feel bigger than they actually are. Developers went on a loft-building spree in the late 1990s-early 2000s to create live-work housing in “transitional” neighborhoods like South of Market, The Mission, South Beach, and Dogpatch. And these properties still offer good bang for the buck.

The new construction coursing through the city no longer includes lofts. But it’s important not to overlook existing loft inventory, as it provides a unique, spacious form of housing that’s near downtown, freeways, public transportation and some of the best restaurants in the city. And most lofts come with parking and modest HOA dues, which can’t be said for today’s new construction condos. [Read more...]

New Listing: 286 Parnassus in Cole Valley

286Parnassus LR1My new listing at 286 Parnassus has just come on the market, and it’s sure to be a hit with buyers seeking a home near everything the city has to offer.

286 Parnassus is a 1BR/1BA condo in a three-unit Edwardian building. The open floor plan features a remodeled kitchen and bath, as well as a bedroom with great natural light and partial downtown views (yes, that’s the Transamerica Building you can see). There’s a gas fireplace in the living room and a private balcony off the kitchen.

Amenities include exclusive-use washer/dryer, a shared, landscaped garden and hardwood floors.

I’m not kidding, 286 Parnassus really is in the center of it all near Golden Gate Park, public transportation, a car-sharing garage. Go a few blocks and you’re in the heart of the Cole Valley, Haight or Inner Sunset retail districts. UCSF is just down the street.

List price is $579,000. We’ll be open this Sunday, 9/21 from 2:00-4:00. Check out our Web site for more info at 286parnassus.com

The 5-Star Yelp Reviews Keep Rollin’ In!

I love writing this blog, but I also love selling San Francisco real estate. And I love when my clients have a great experience buying that real estate. It’s pretty much what gets me out of bed in the morning.

I wanted to share my latest review from my clients who made their purchase in rapid-fire fashion—and without having to pay through the nose to get what they needed (click on the review for the larger version):

yelp_miraloma

Give me a shout if you’re on track to buy (or sell) a home—and want to do it before the end of the year. We can meet to strategize and then find you what you need without a lot of drama.

I’m a Realtor First, Blogger Second

I’ve received a handful of calls over the past year from home buyers and sellers looking for my opinion on their individual real estate situations. The buyers are either in contract on a property and a transaction issue has come up, or are negotiating a purchase agreement and seeking assurance about where the market is going. The sellers have accepted an offer but are looking for my input on whether or not they should grant a requested buyer credit or risk falling out of contract.

I’m always happy to hear from my extensive blog base, but I thought it might be a good time to remind everyone that I’m able to stay in business and write my blog because I’m selling real estate. And I do reserve a good portion of my strategies, market insights and advice for clients—meaning there’s way more you need to know beyond my blog post content when you’re transitioning from reader to being a home buyer or seller.

If you’ve already engaged the services of a Realtor you trust, it’s probably best for you to follow his or her advice. Because if you committed to working with your Realtor, it should mean that you value his or her counsel and have worked through many details together. You now have a track record with your agent, a professional who will also get paid a fee when your transaction closes. We work in a service-based industry, and our time, market knowledge, and negotiating expertise are a few of the services we offer that make us valuable.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a long time and are now planning to buy or sell a property, please remember that I am an experienced, knowledgeable, highly organized and down-to-earth agent who will work in your best interest (even if it means advising you to pass on a particular home or reject a certain offer). Many of my readers have become clients, and have gone on to refer their friends, co-workers, neighbors and family to me.

And every time that happens, it allows me to keep writing this blog and sharing my insights with you on a consistent basis.

Need further proof? Check out my Yelp reviews and video here.

Looking forward to working with more of you in 2014!

Ignore the “Homestead” Scam

It’s inevitable that after you complete the purchase or refinance of your home, you receive a notice in the mail from a company with a random name like “TRS” offering to prepare a Declaration of Homestead for you. They typically request anywhere from $25-$75 to draw up the declaration and send it back to you so you can take it to City Hall to record the document.

When you get the letter, throw it out. It’s a scam.

A homestead declaration, in a nutshell, is a legal document that protects the equity in your home from creditors. The reality is that homestead protection is automatic in California, so there’s no need to pay anyone to create it for you. These companies target first-time home buyers who may not be aware of all the facts.

5 Ways to Avoid Home-Buying Closing Delays

Contract timelines are always tight in the current San Francisco market. That means that buyers are typically removing appraisal and loan approval contingencies within days of having offers accepted. If you’re not prepared to jump on the fast track to completing your purchase, drama can ensue.

Here are five ways to avoid major closing delays, courtesy of my colleagues at Guarantee Mortgage who presented at our Zephyr sales meeting this week. [Read more...]

What You Need To Know About Gift Funds

It’s no secret that the cost of real estate in San Francisco is high. Many first-time home buyers are turning to family—specifically, to their parents—for a little extra help. If you’re considering making a purchase that will partially rely on what are called “gift funds,” here’s what you need to know, courtesy of my colleague Gordon Friedman of Mortgage Service Professionals:

- The funds must be for a primary residence or second home (not for an investment property)
- The gift must be from a parent, relative, domestic partner, spouse or fiance
- A gift letter is required, which must state the gift amount, property address, date given/to be given, and donor address. The letter also must state that no repayment will be required
- Buyer must have 20% or more in down payment, though the entire down payment can be a gift
- If the buyer has less than 20% down, there will be a 5% borrower contribution required
- For a jumbo loan (more than $625,500), a 5% borrower contribution is required regardless of the down payment. [Read more...]

All Deeds Must Record At Same Time for Condo Conversion

As the current crop of TICs converts to condos, I’m seeing many owners listing their TIC interests prior to the actual condo conversion of the entire building. This means the buyer is expected to step in at the tail end of the condo conversion and work with all existing owners as they refinance and everyone completes the conversion process.

In other words, whether there’s a group loan or fractional financing in place, all new condo deeds have to record simultaneously. If there is one owner in the group who doesn’t have a loan, that owner needs to wait until everyone’s refinancing/new purchases are completed prior to obtaining a condo deed. [Read more...]

Inventory for Every Price Point in Bernal

The Bernal Heights market is experiencing a jolt of inventory, and not just in $1M+ dollar single-family houses. There’s something for everyone, and I wanted to point out some of my favorites. Whether you’re looking to spend up to $500,000 or $2M, here are some good choices in prime neighborhood locations:

515 Eugenia
Tenancy-in-common
1BR/1BA, no pkg
$395,000
515eugenia
515 Eugenia is one TIC interest in a newly renovated, three-unit property at the corner of Bonview and Eugenia. This is a great location because it’s only a block to Cortland, as well as a few short blocks to Mission Street and its public transportation. 515 Eugenia is small, but well appointed. The kitchen is a good size and has reasonable counter and cabinet space, and there’s shared laundry and exclusive storage. The unit is located over the two-car garage, so this may not work if you’re sensitive to the noise of garage doors opening when your fellow building owners are coming and going. But overall, 515 Eugenia is a good package for this price point. (Also available are 199 Bonview #A, the other 1BR unit listed for $495,000, and the two-story main house unit at 199 Bonview for $995,000.) [Read more...]

The Most Competitive House Markets in San Francisco Right Now

If you’re aiming to buy or sell a single-family home in San Francisco, it’s important to take note of the selling patterns in the city’s various neighborhoods. You’ve probably read my blog post from earlier this week on the hottest condo markets, but when it comes to overbidding on houses, the landscape looks slightly different.

The neighborhoods where buyers are overbidding most intensely are varied, and there are many. [Read more...]

The Most Competitive Condo Markets in San Francisco Right Now

One of the keys to success in the current San Francisco market is knowing which neighborhoods are the most competitive. Armed with that intel, you can more easily gauge how much to offer on a property, or what list price will work to your advantage.

As many of my regular readers know, I’ve been running a feature highlighting extreme overbidding for several months, regularly inducting new members into the SF Overbidders Club. The reality is that we have many neighborhoods in San Francisco that are showing double-digit overbid percentages, and it’s important to know what the selling patterns are when you’re determining values.

When it comes to the San Francisco market, these patterns can change pretty quickly. My sales data is based on reported MLS sales in the time period April 1 – May 12, 2014, so it’s the most current info available. [Read more...]

My Offer Was Accepted—Now What?!

Most San Francisco buyers are focused on competing for properties. What’s equally important is that you have a firm understanding of what you’ll be responsible for once your offer is accepted and you’re officially “in contract” to purchase your home.

The first week to ten days after “ratification” (seller accepting your offer) are essentially a juggling act. Here are the five things you should be prepared to do:
1. Place your deposit into the escrow account. You’ll need to wire in your good faith deposit (typically 3% of the purchase price). You can also write a check, but wiring is what most buyers do. Make sure that deposit money is liquid and able to be transferred within one to three days of ratification to the title company account associated with your escrow.

2. Submit outstanding financial documentation to your lender. Your lender will invariably need updated financial documentation in order to get your loan package approved. If you’re working within a competitive contingency timeframe (who isn’t?), you’ll want to deliver those docs to the lender within a day or so of the request. [Read more...]

What You Need To Know About Leased Parking

You start your home search with a parking space as part of your criteria. And then you see the perfect condo, but it has what’s defined as “leased parking.” What exactly are the ramifications for this?

The SF Realtor Association recently changed the data fields in the MLS to include leased parking and its related details in a given listing. Previously, you either had some type of deeded parking, or not. Some agents indicated “1L” in the data field, which resulted in listings showing a parking space that technically wasn’t going to be sold with the unit. So the new leased parking fields are a good thing, in my opinion.

The main distinction to make with respect to parking is that a space is included with the purchase, or it’s not. There are also variations on parking that comes with a unit, such as deeded, assigned, tandem or independent style. [Read more...]

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...]