Category Archives: Homeowner Tips

Adding ADU To House, Duplex May Not Be The Best Idea

The climate is ripe for adding housing in San Francisco, and that extends to the city’s efforts to make adding an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) to a property easier. But whether you should move ahead with “legalizing” an existing in-law apartment—or creating one—depends upon what type of property you own.

If you own a building with three or more units, adding another one won’t really introduce new use restrictions on the building or resale complications. Continue Reading

Should You Buy Earthquake Insurance?

That’s one of the top questions home buyers ask me on a regular basis.

Only about 12-15% of California homeowners have earthquake insurance, and I believe that ratio drops further in The Bay Area and San Francisco. This is because earthquake insurance is very expensive. In a condo building, it will double your homeowners association dues (HOAs). Additionally, most policies come with a 10-15% deductible. This means the damage to the building would have to be pretty severe in order for you to use your coverage. Continue Reading

Sellers Need Lead Time For Spring Market

Allow yourself enough lead time for pre-sale work if you’re planning to sell your San Francisco home this Spring.

Though some wise future sellers start strategizing in January or February, others wait until April or May. At that point, painters, stagers, contractors and other critical tradespeople may be booked well in advance. Continue Reading

Meeting Minutes Key in Evaluating HOA Financials

Most condo associations in large buildings have a homeowners association (HOA) board or general membership that meet at least annually to discuss and vote on a variety of items. One of the most important aspects to note when evaluating a condo HOA is whether there are any upcoming, approved expenditures.

Upcoming special assessments are always the big question, but you shouldn’t stop there because those assessments won’t be dipping into the current reserve account. A portion of HOA dues typically goes to the reserve account so there’s some money on hand. Lenders like to see healthy reserves in larger buildings, and having good reserves means the HOA won’t immediately be hit up for a special assessment if, say, the roof needs to be replaced. However, it’s not always evident based on the other disclosure documents whether a large expense is imminent. Though there’s a condo financial disclosure, it only asks about upcoming special assessments. Continue Reading

5 Ways To Prepare for Selling Your Home in 2020

You’ve decided that 2020 is the year you’ll be selling your house in San Francisco. Timing is everything when it comes to a home sale, and it’s never too early to start planning. Here are five ways you can kick things off:

1. Decide what stays and what goes. You probably won’t want to take everything with you, so it’s a good time to start labeling what stays and what items will go where. Take advantage of services like Remoov. You also may benefit from working with a professional organizer/mover—my colleague, Gwen McClure is an excellent choice.

2. Consult with your CPA. It’s a good idea to know what taxes you can expect to pay, as well as get professional advice on how to handle sale profits. Continue Reading

I’m A Realtor Seeking New Clients for 2020

Though I spend a lot of time sharing San Francisco market insights on this blog, I am a full-time real estate agent. That may not be obvious sometimes, but what it means is that I earn a living helping people buy and sell residential real estate.

I know many of you are considering making a move in 2020, or you may know friends, family or neighbors who are. That’s where I’d like to come in. If you’ve been reading my blog on a regular basis, you know that I’m a straightforward, knowledgeable professional who’s been a Realtor since 2002. I’ve navigated clients through slow markets, crazy markets and everything in between. I have a strong work ethic, am obsessed with providing excellent service and am always available to talk, email or text when my clients have questions or concerns.

This year is winding down, and I am looking to kick off 2020 by making myself useful to buyers and sellers. Most importantly, I typically consult with people well before they’re actually ready to take action. So don’t hesitate to get in touch. Early in the new year is a great time to strategize about a move.

You can view my most recent sales here, and my Yelp reviews here.

I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Don’t Lose Your Home: Pay Your Property Taxes

The city catches up with homeowners who don’t pay their property taxes, and missing payments can cost you your property.

The bottom line is that the city considers homeowners to be responsible for paying their property taxes, whether a homeowner physically received the tax bill or not. Bought a new property and didn’t receive the tax bill? It’s best to look up your tax bill online and just pay it.

I thought I would also round up the basics for you future homeowners out there, because property taxes are something many don’t think a lot about during the purchasing process. Continue Reading

Smaller Buyer Pool? Stick With a List Price Closer To Value

San Francisco properties typically sell for more than their list prices. The strategy for our low-inventory market is expected, and buyers are used to the drill by now. List a home at ten percent or more under comp range, attract multiple offers and close with a sale price of well above list.

However, that outcome is not guaranteed—especially for properties with smaller buyer pools. These are homes that will attract more buyer objections than offers. If the property has one or more major objections, it’s a better strategy to price your home closer to the value.

There are many examples of the types of properties that will have smaller buyer pools. Here are a few: Continue Reading

It’s San Francisco Property Tax Season

October isn’t just limited to trick or treaters coming to your house. If you’re a homeowner in San Francisco, you can also expect to receive your secured property tax bill.

Property taxes are due twice a year, with the first installment due no later than December 10th. (The second installment is due no later than next April 10th.) Continue Reading

Good Value in Behind-The-Scenes Home Improvements

I meet with new buyer clients frequently who tell me they’re okay with “doing some work” and not paying for another owner’s remodel. And many times, that’s a sound plan when it comes to kitchens and bathrooms. After all, these renovations are typically pretty straightforward, and they provide an instant bang for the buck. Buy a house with a tired, 1940s kitchen and bath, tart them up, and you’ve added immediate value.

However, there are certain property upgrades that should be appreciated and valued more than I think they are in San Francisco. A chef’s kitchen with a CaesarStone counter and a slick, high-end soaking tub in the master suite are all fine and good. But what about an upgraded foundation–or a substantially repaired one? Or a new furnace/ductwork; roof; seismic upgrades; repaired dry rot/termite damage; upgraded plumbing and electrical? Though you can’t necessarily see these sorts of repairs in slick marketing photos, they’re important building components that need periodic attention. Continue Reading

COPA Legislation Now In Effect for SF Multi-Unit Building Sellers

The Community Opportunity to Purchase Act (COPA) is now officially in effect for sellers of multi-unit buildings.

I first blogged about the COPA back in June. The legislation wasn’t scheduled to go into effect until September 3, 2019. In a nutshell, COPA gives non-profit housing organizations the first right to purchase residential buildings with three or more units. The city is hoping that COPA will help preserve affordable housing.

Sellers of three or more units now have to provide a formal notice to the Qualified Nonprofits (QNPs) via email prior to marketing the property to the public—and prior to listing the property on the MLS or in a “coming soon” capacity. Continue Reading

Save Money By Applying for Reduced “Flow Factor”

Do you have an irrigation system and are interested in saving money on your increasingly expensive San Francisco water bill? Consider applying for a reduced “flow factor.”

A big part of your water bill as a homeowner in San Francisco is the wastewater service charge that covers the cost of collecting, transporting, treating and disposing of each unit of wastewater discharged into the sewer system. The Water Department figures this out by multiplying your water consumption by an assigned “flow factor.”

The flow factor is the amount of water you use that’s actually returned to the sewer system as wastewater. The Water Department assumes the flow factor to be 90% for single-family homes and 95% for multi-unit buildings. Continue Reading

Here’s Your Mid-2019 Bernal Heights Microhood Report

Here’s Your Mid-2019 Bernal Heights Microhood Report

The Bernal Heights microhoods are backing off the $2,000,000 median price this year. For the first time in a while, no microhood hit that single-family home median price.

Bernal overall is doing well this year. The median single-family home price in the January-June 2019 time period was $1,460,000—down 11% from the same time period in 2018.

Buyers have paid an average overbid of approximately 15 percent in the first half of this year. And of the 71 homes sold, 28 saw buyers pay 20% or more over the list price (with eleven paying in cash).

But it’s time for a microhood update. As my regular readers know, I created the Bernal Heights microhoods back in 2014 to help prospective buyers and sellers get a more refined sense for single-family home values in the neighborhood’s distinct geographical areas.

Here’s how our microhoods stacked up in the first two quarters of 2019 (click on each pic to enlarge, red dots represent homes sold):

1. Northwest Slope
Single-Family Home Median Price: $1,635,500
Most Expensive: 112 Elsie (4BR/2.5BA, 2240 sq ft | $3,000,000)
Least Expensive: 340 Winfield (2BR/1BA 750 sq ft | $1,040,250)
# Homes Sold: 10
# Overbids Above 20%: 5

The Northwest Slope made a strong showing, as usual. The high flyer in this batch was the small house with complicated expansion potential and a postage stamp kitchen at 156 Bonview. Listed for $999,000, the home sold for $1,550,000. Continue Reading

Spring 2019’s Most Competitive Neighborhoods for Buyers

The selling pattern in San Francisco has eternally been all about listing lower than the target price, and expecting well over asking. Spring 2019 has been no different. But some neighborhoods see clusters of overbids in the 20% or more range more than others.

If you’re a buyer looking for a house or condo in the city, it’s important to know where these hot spots are so you don’t spin your wheels in areas you ultimately won’t be able to afford.

I looked at house and condo sales from April to mid June 2019 to see where the big overbids have been happening the most frequently. Continue Reading

Revised SF Contract Includes New Clause for Cash Buyers

The San Francisco Association of Realtors recently revised its purchase agreement to add paragraph 46, which requires cash buyers to comply with Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) rules during escrow.

FinCEN is a division of the Department of Treasury, and combats money laundering. It’s been around since the 1990s. Escrow officers have been collecting the required information from cash buyers during a transaction for quite some time, but our purchase agreement only added the new paragraph in April 2019. Sellers have the option of cancelling the contract if the cash buyers don’t agree to provide the required information to escrow. Continue Reading

Contact Eileen for Real Estate Help

Eileen Bermingham

Corcoran Global Living

415.823.4656

eileen@insidesfre.com

DRE# 01352627

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