Spring is just around the corner, and with that will come one of the busiest times of the year for San Francisco real estate. Covid made its mark last Spring, shutting us down for a time and completely dampening the market. But times are fortunately changing, and I feel like we’re heading into a robust next few months.
But we’re still operating under Covid restrictions. So that means no open houses, broker tours and showings by appointment only with your agent. It also means shorter marketing periods, with agents setting offer dates as soon as a week after the on-market date. You need to be prepared and organized if you’re planning to successfully purchase your next home this Spring.
So here are my top tips for navigating the Spring 2021 San Francisco real estate market:
Be completely preapproved for a loan. You’ll often be in a competitive offer situation, with buyers waiving contingencies to stand out. Make sure you’ve submitted all required documents to your lender, and consult with him or her to see what latitude you may have when it comes to, for example, waiving a loan or appraisal contingency.
Schedule your showing appointment as soon as possible. If you’ve already reviewed all available video tours and information about a property in which you’re interested, the next step is to schedule a showing. Appointment slots fill up quickly, particularly on weekends. Have your agent schedule the showing within the first few days so you have sufficient time to review disclosures and comparable sales before a looming offer date.
Know what you can—and can’t—afford. The list-low, sell-for-more pattern has come roaring back as of the past few weeks, with agents reporting offers in the double digits and big overbids. Make sure your agent is clued in to the most current market activity (for example, what the in-contract comp activity has been, in addition to solds). Don’t get sucked into super low list prices; focus more on the realistic value range of a given property.
Decide what your true purchase price max is. You may end up in a counter offer situation, faced with boosting your purchase price in order to get the home. It’s a sound idea to know how far you can go so you can negotiate accurately. How will that additional $50,000 or $100,000 affect your mortgage payments? Talk it over with your lender to avoid frantic phone calls when you’re up against a counter deadline.
Sit out the offer situations where you probably don’t have a chance. If your agent is telling you that the property you love has 30 disclosure packages out, it may be best to sit that one out unless you have the wherewithal to bid big and waive all contingencies. There’s nothing like losing out on multiple properties to discourage your home-buying efforts. Trust your agent to guide you toward the offer situations where you’ll have a chance.