Home buyers usually have a wish list for the property type and neighborhood in which they want to be—and a budget that may not allow for all the amenities.
I learned long ago that part of my job as a real estate agent is to help clients think outside the box when it comes to getting what they want within their budget. If I had a slice of pizza for every time one of my clients purchased a home that wasn’t exactly what they initially described, I’d be four hundred pounds.
To give you a feel for what I’m talking about, here are five things that are typically on home buyer wish lists—and the trade-offs you can consider to get you the functionality and central location that will work for you:
1. A house with a private yard. We’ll call this the San Francisco dream. But the reality is that single-family homes in areas like the Inner Sunset, Noe Valley, West Portal or Mission Dolores, for example, are typically well above $2.5M. However, there’s one property type that can get you the privacy and outdoor space you need—a condo with exclusive-use outdoor space such as a deeded yard or roof deck.
2. A two-bedroom condo. This is the most popular type of condo. 407 two-bedrooms have sold in 2018 so far, in comparison to 306 one bedrooms and 181 three bedrooms. But there’s frequently competition among two-bedroom condos with all the amenities, and perhaps your budget only allows for up to $1.2M or less. In that case, consider a “one-bedroom plus.” What’s the “plus?” A den/large alcove without a door that could totally work as an office or guest space. The one-bedroom plus den is a popular option among new construction offerings.
3. A condo with deeded parking. San Francisco is a parking-challenged city in more ways than one. There are many multi-unit buildings that can’t accommodate parking for every one of their residents. In that case, consider a leased space nearby. This is particularly fitting if you take Muni, BART or a shuttle bus to work and only use your car in the evening or on weekends. (Or, for that matter, consider selling your car and using a combination of car-sharing services, public transportation, bikes, and scooters.)
4. A second bathroom. Ah, the holy grail of the amenity set. Loving that house or condo that only has one bathroom? Keep the faith, there are ways to add one during your ownership. For example, a large closet positioned next to the existing full bathroom off the hall is a popular location for an additional full bath. You can tie in to the plumbing that’s already there, and add another closet or large armoire for storage space.
5. A three-bedroom house. One where all three bedrooms are on the main level, right? I’ll spare you the sales data on this one. Suffice to say, that floor plan is in high demand. Consider two solid options—a sunroom attached to two rear bedrooms (great office or baby space), or building your own master suite at the rear of the garage level.
The main point here is that you can’t look at San Francisco real estate in a general way; it all comes down to the details. Let your agent know what you need and why you need it. A good agent will be able to point you in the direction of homes that will get you what you want without exceeding your budget.