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Tips on Preparing to Buy a New Home

January 25th, 2012

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Waste Line, not Waistline

January 24th, 2012

Don’t worry we’re not going to discuss your waistline. The other waste line is probably, in the long run, not as important as your waistline but is something worth paying attention to.

A good real estate agent in San Francisco will make sure that, before you buy a home, a property inspection and a Structural Pest Control inspection, if needed, are performed. These inspections really give buyers detailed insight into the quality and potential issues of the home that they are gearing up to buy. Every home is going to have minor issues that will be identified in a good inspection but the real value in these inspections is the identification of the “big ticket” items that will need to be addressed at some point. Big-ticket items typically include roof, foundation, wiring, internal plumbing and retaining wall problems. But, what’s not covered by either inspection is the state of the waste line.

Waste lines run under the sidewalk in front of the property and can only be accessed through the clean out (that little square grate you usually see in the sidewalk in front of your house) by a specific type of mobile camera. The camera is actually run through the length of the waste line and is viewed by the technician on a small computer screen.

Many waste lines in San Francisco are 75 or more years old. These lines are composed of clay and are subject to root intrusion from nearby trees, settlement, and joint separation. The bottom line is that, unless otherwise indicated, assume that the waste line is original and needs to be inspected.

These inspections range in price between $125-$325. We have several companies to recommend. The cost of replacing a waste line typically ranges between $4,000-$10,000.

Here’s the bonus… both of these companies provide “dirty movies” to go along with the inspections. (You get a DVD of the camera inspection of your sewer line!).

So, while your waistline may be indicative of your own health, your waste line is an integral part of your home’s health.

Views vs. Walkability: A Shift in Real Estate Wish Lists

January 12th, 2012

Views have always been desirable in San Francisco and they still are. But over the last few years, access or “walkability” to transportation, restaurants, shopping, cafes seems to have tipped the scales.

What’s the price of being able to walk to a great restaurant, grab coffee at the local cafe, or hop on MUNI just a few blocks from your house? San Franciscans have almost always paid a premium for houses in these “walkable” locations but recently we’ve seen a truly notable increase in their desirability.

We are fast becoming a city that walks, bikes and utilizes public transportation more. It was not uncommon up until the last few years for many couples and families to own one car per adult, more recently many households are down to a single car and increasingly more households are letting go of their cars altogether – a boon for car-sharing companies and the environment, and a shift in real estate wish-lists.

Of course, the ongoing technology boom continues to change the desirability landscape in San Francisco. Neighborhoods on the south side of the City (i.e. Noe Valley, Glen Park, the Mission, Duboce Triangle, Mission Dolores and Bernal Heights) have Silicon Valley to thank for their huge growth in desirability and therefore value. These neighborhoods are rocketing to the very top of buyers’ most wanted lists. The advent of private companies providing private bus services (i.e., Google, Apple, Genentech) with stops in all of these neighborhoods has added amazing value. When you look at the marketing of properties today, you’re likely to see reference to WalkScore or even the proximity of a property to the “Google bus.” These are the things that buyers are demanding and these are the things that buyers are willing to pay extra for.

“Location, location, location” has always been the shibboleth of the real estate industry, but how prime locations are defined is an evolving and ever-changing thing. Right now, it seems, that “walkability” has surpassed “views” as the amenity of choice for many potential San Francisco homebuyers.

Get more insider tips and expert advice with our free first-time homebuyer’s guide!

Mortgage Option Available with 5-10% down

January 6th, 2012
There is now a mortgage option for qualified buyers that allows you to put 5% down with no PMI insurance needed. There are some specific requirements, but it could be a great option if you don’t have a full 20% down. Call us for more details…