Category Archives: Home Buyer Tips

The Story Behind Unwarranted Spaces

An “unwarranted” space is one that hasn’t been done with city permits. If you’re doing a major renovation—say, adding a unit or bedroom and bath—you’ll typically apply for a permit from the city. Besides serving as a revenue stream for the city, a permit warrants that the appropriate city inspectors have reviewed and approved electrical wiring, plumbing, etc., and that everything is up to code. Continue Reading

Budget for HOA Dues During Loan Preapproval

Budget for HOA Dues During Loan Preapproval

You’re thinking about buying a condo in San Francisco, and the first thing on your checklist is loan preapproval. Along with mortgage payments and property taxes, your lender tells you that you need a rough idea of how much your homeowners association dues (HOA) will be. But you don’t know what you’ll be buying, so how are you supposed to know how much the dues will be?Continue Reading

What You Need To Know About TIC Ownership

Many buyers are considering tenancy-in-common (TIC) units these days, given the cost of real estate in San Francisco. TICs are typically priced lower than condos, and you can generally get into a neighborhood that you might not be able to afford were the property a condo.

But before you run out to see that two-bedroom condo in Cole Valley listed for only $699,000 that you saw on Redfin, you need to know the TIC basics. Continue Reading

What You Risk When You Waive Contingencies

Inventory hasn’t kept up with buyer demand for a while now in San Francisco. That’s led to very competitive offer situations and high sale prices. Most multiple-offer situations end up with a handful of buyers waiving all contingencies (e.g., conditions of the sale) in order to make their offer as attractive as possible to the seller.

But do all buyers realize what’s at stake when they waive all contingencies? Sometimes I’m not so sure.Continue Reading

My Top 5 Condo Deal Breakers

You’ve spent three hours looking at various real estate Web sites and have narrowed down your favorites for this weekend’s open house touring.

In the end, three of those units have HOA dues that are well above what you can afford, and another two have serious pet restrictions that won’t work for your two yellow Labs.

Knowing the fundamentals about a condo and its HOA can save you time when it comes to targeting your search. Here are my top five deal breakers to help you narrow down your prospects. Because let’s face it, you can only see so many homes between 2:00 and 4:00 on a Sunday:Continue Reading

Defer Paying Taxes with a 1031 Exchange

A 1031 exchange is an excellent option for investors looking to cash in on the San Francisco market. You can defer paying big capital gains taxes, move up to a bigger and better investment property, and build your wealth in the process.

The Internal Revenue Code Section 1031 allows investors to reinvest proceeds from the sale of one investment property into another similar property while deferring capital gains that would otherwise be due on the sale.

Here are the four simple guidelines for exchanges, as per the Asset Exchange Company in San Francisco:Continue Reading

Sellers Search for Build-It-Yourself Buyers

Sellers Search for Build-It-Yourself Buyers

There are at least a dozen single-family homes on the market that are being sold with approved construction permits, architectural plans, or simply positioned as “opportunities to build your dream home.”

The trend in 2015? Hand off construction to buyers, who will hopefully pay a premium for lot value and approved (or unapproved) plans. In many cases, the owners (typically an LLC or contractor) may have more pressing projects and will agree to sell if the numbers add up. Or, in the case of those selling properties without approved plans, they may be anxious that today’s market won’t be quite as strong by the time they can get plans approved and the property built.Continue Reading

Noe Houses, Cow Hollow Condos Lead Price Per Square Foot Pack

Heads up, San Francisco house hunters: If you’re looking to get into hot neighborhoods like Noe Valley, NoPa, and the Marina, be prepared to potentially pay more than $1,000/square foot.

Noe Valley has truly jumped the shark with its price per square foot average for single-family homes: It’s now just above $1400. And thanks to the new Amero condo development in Cow Hollow, that neighborhood’s price per square foot average leads the pack for condos in the city.Continue Reading

Good Deal: 115 San Pablo in St. Francis Wood

Good Deal: 115 San Pablo in St. Francis Wood

I was reviewing sales in Noe Valley today and came across the final selling price for 752 Elizabeth. This was a 3BR/2BA, 1440 square foot house with a two-car garage and cute garden that was listed for $1.5M. The seller received 17 offers, and the home sold for $2,150,000 in an all-cash transaction. (About half the offers were for cash, by the way.)

This kind of market activity tends to scare buyers off—and with good reason. The reality? Unless you have cash or a hefty down payment and can go into contract with no contingencies and a fast close, you can’t compete in high-demand neighborhoods like Noe Valley. A successful house hunt, as a result, will largely depend on how flexible you can be with respect to location and amenities. Continue Reading

Low Inventory Leads to Multiple Offers

The San Francisco real estate market is very competitive right now. I’m hearing anecdotes among my colleagues of crazy multiple-offer situations in the double digits—24 offers here, another 16 offers there. Unless you’re a buyer with all cash who catches on quickly, you’re writing offers on a routine basis and hoping a seller accepts one of them.Continue Reading

Trade-Offs for House Hunters in Trying Times

Trade-Offs for House Hunters in Trying Times

I came across this toilet in what’s known as a “split bath” in San Francisco recently. For those of you who aren’t familiar with our Victorian- and Edwardian-era architecture, the floor plan often features a bathroom where the shower/tub and sink are located in one room, and the toilet is situated on the other side of a wall, in its own closet.Continue Reading

Is It A Good Time To Buy in San Francisco?

San Francisco has a very fast-moving, dynamic real estate market that often doesn’t reflect what’s happening across the country. For example, “hitting bottom” meant lower sales volumes, higher concentrations of foreclosures and short sales that were largely centered in a handful of neighborhoods, and many properties in prime neighborhoods still selling for more than list prices. In other words, it wasn’t exactly a real estate bloodbath in San Francisco.Continue Reading

Get in touch:

Eileen Bermingham

Zephyr Real Estate

415.823.4656

ebermingham@zephyrsf.com

BRE# 01352627

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