HOT PROPERTY REPORT
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San Francisco Home Prices Rise

July 10th, 2012

Bloomberg recently reported that home prices are on the rise in San Francisco. The trend may continue, making now a good time to buy before prices rise further. Contact us for a personalized tour of properties that meet your criteria.

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Facebook’s IPO: Should Buyers Worry?

May 18th, 2012

Mark Zuckerberg rang the stock market bell this morning, and buyers who aren’t Facebook employees may be feeling pressure to snap up SF real estate before the IPO lockup period ends in November and the Facebook cash floods the market.

Stressed? Don’t be. Sure, we’ve seen some crazy things happening lately, but the reality for many buyers might not be so scary. The current ‘boom’ is being fueled by a lack of inventory as many sellers wait for these techies to become liquid. When they do, the increased supply of homes may balance out any high demand created by the IPOs. And keep in mind that Facebook is a pretty small company, with just over 3,500 employees – some of whom might want to save their money, and some of whom may choose to settle in the South Bay. Finally, given the stock’s mediocre performance today, there may be fewer millionaires than anticipated.

Need a little more reassurance? Prices still are not where they were at the peak of the market in 2006. Rates are historically low making this a good time to buy. Multiple offers in San Francisco are a way or real estate life. Even in 1985 there were multiple offers. A good piece of property will always attract attention. Today’s difference is that prices are set purposefully low. You need to be educated as to prices and comparable sales so that you know what a property that fits your parameters is worth in today’s market. Only a good real estate agent who has seen lots of property and followed sales prices can help you know that you are paying the right price for the property you buy. IPOs aside, a well located property with a modicum of charm will always hold its value in SF and will, don’t forget, always attract more than one offer.

Certainly there are more factors influencing the local and national real estate markets than Facebook’s IPO. Despite the hype, talk, and excitement surrounding Facebook this week, there is always more to consider when it comes to real estate valuation in this complex city. We don’t have a crystal ball but we do have a lot of experience navigating through markets just like this. We invite you to call us with your questions and concerns.


What Kind Of Mortgage Should You Get?

May 3rd, 2012

With all the different products on the market, this question can be downright confusing. While there’s no substitute for talking to a reputable mortgage broker (contact us for referrals), it’s helpful to know your options. This article does a pretty good job explaining the various offerings so you can familiarize yourself with them.


Do I really need a real estate agent? Why?

February 29th, 2012

We are real estate agents so we have a biased point of view! That said, you really do need a really good agent when buying in SF. There are things you just can’t do on your own (even with your iPad). Seeing and evaluating real estate is our job. We offer you expertise and access that you can’t get elsewhere, saving you time & money. Here are some of the things a good agent will do for you.

 

GET IN TO SEE A PROPERTY RIGHT AWAY

Some properties sell the day after the first open house. Some listing agents delay any offers until a specified date and some take offers “as they come.” Don’t get left out in the cold if you like a place well enough to buy it.  If necessary, connected agents are able to get you in to a property before the first open house.

 

VISUALIZE A PROPERTY’S POTENTIAL

When you tour a house with brand new appliances and a newly remodeled kitchen, it’s easy to picture yourself in that home – until you see the price tag. But why pay extra for someone else’s kitchen remodel? We help buyers visualize and estimate the cost of their dream house. Knocking down a wall to open up a floor plan is less expensive than you’d think. Real value can be found in fixer-uppers, not to mention the pleasure of getting exactly what you want from a remodel. Get our guide to remodeling projects for more information.

 

SAVE YOU TIME

There is a lot of property to choose from and you don’t want to waste time on Sunday afternoons. You need to tour properties that fit your criteria. While online realty search sites can be good tools to help you create a quick list of properties you’d like to see, you don’t want to waste time visiting homes with problems that don’t show up in photos or that are inaccurately priced. A good agent has seen the properties and can assess & filter them for you to save you time. For instance, if your price range is up to 800K and a property is listed at 799K but we KNOW it will sell for at least 850K, then why frustrate yourself?

 

SAVE YOU MONEY

In multiple offer situations (of which there are many in SF), you need to think strategically to win the bid. Generally, the sales price is above the asking price. How much over? You don’t want to leave money on the table but you’d like your bid to be successful. A good agent will help you get to the price that is enough to win the property without overpaying.

 

ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS, IDENTIFY PROBLEMS & OFFER SOLUTIONS

Seeing a property online isn’t enough. You have to look at properties in person to know what it’s really like inside. That in person knowledge will help you put prices and possible issues in perspective.  When you look at a listing online, you are seeing an idealized version of the property. What’s it really like? Does it have some sort of a problem? Structural problem? Tenant problem? Homeowner’s Association problem? You need to get answers to these questions in order to understand the right price for a property. If problems are uncovered, a good agent will also be able to help you find contractors and estimate the costs to fix them so you’ll have a complete understanding of the total cost of your new home.

 

PROVIDE BIG PICTURE COMPARISON – AND CONFIDENCE

While you may see a couple open houses a week, an experienced agent has seen all the homes on the market for years. That adds up to hundreds or even thousands of properties. Not only does this enable us to filter properties to meet your criteria, but it also allows us to give you the big picture comparison that you simply wouldn’t have otherwise. Look for a real estate professional that will take the time to teach you the San Francisco real estate market so that you know that you’ve made a wise decision when it comes time to take the plunge and make an offer on a home. You need to be confident that you’ve gotten the most for your money and have found a property that fulfills most of the points on your wish list.

 

LEVERAGE OUR RELATIONSHIPS TO YOUR BENEFIT

As we know, properties can be listed purposefully low. Because of this, it’s hard to gain a good understanding of the market by just looking at properties online.  What did they sell for? Knowing is part of your education process and waiting a month or so to find out doesn’t help you on an immediate basis. We can find out what something sold for through our good connections with other agents.

 

In short, if you want to save time & money, know you got a fair price, and get your dream house, then yes – you need an agent. Contact us to put our experience to work for you.


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…

415.522.2222


Rent Control Leading to Vacant Apartments in SF

May 4th, 2011

One out of every twelve apartments in San Francisco is left intentionally vacant. Why? Rent control. No regular person that owns a small building wants to deal with the extraordinarily restrictive pro-tenant housing laws. I don’t. And all of my clients don’t either – not when they hear the downsides of renting property in San Francisco. Here’s a story that proves that point.


Rent Control: When one nasty landlord’s actions affect the rights of all homeowners

April 21st, 2011

To put it mildly, I am not a big fan of the current state of San Francisco Rent Control. I was a fan of rent control when it was first mandated in San Francisco. At that time, rent control protected tenants against “bad” landlords and protected homeowners moving into buildings with 4 units or less. Their own home was completely under their control. Rent control has gotten draconian since the late 1990′s with the advent of the anti-business Board of Supervisors.

This article from the Chronicle shows how a landlord can do really bad things to old people and/or disabled people and therefore hand these hard line tenants rights organizations an issue to run with against any form of reasonable rent control. There is a little bit of hope in this article mentioning a possible “condo bypass” for those TIC buildings waiting ad infinitum to convert to condominiums. If you are interested in rent control in SF or TIC’s / Condo Conversion, read this article.

-Patty


CREDIT SCORES AND MORTGAGE PAYMENTS – Don’t hang yourself!

April 13th, 2011

Read this article from the San Francisco Chronicle to find out what affects your credit score negatively. #1 on the hit parade of what downgrades your credit score is a missed or late mortgage payment. You can have other dings in your credit but you can’t miss a mortgage payment. We know someone who has a great job, a overall good credit score but the fact that she missed some mortgage payments has negatively affected her score to where she can’t get a loan.

A short sale will negatively affect your credit if the bank reports that you have an unpaid balance. This article talks about the double edged sword of missing mortgage payments in order to “qualify” for a mortgage modification. Just getting a 30 day late notice on your mortgage will greatly affect your credit so missing a few payments will be even worse.

How a deed in lieu of a foreclosure (you turn over the deed to your house to the lender) versus a short sale is also discussed in this article as it pertains to your credit score. A lot of how your credit score is affected is subject to how the bank reports your short sale to the credit bureaus.

Very interesting article if you or a friend of yours is considering a short sale.

-Patty


Hey kids! The wait is over… SFUSD kindergarten placements mailed out.

March 21st, 2011

For months, parents of kindergarten children have had their calendars marked for March 18th.  That’s the day the district mailed out assignments for the nearly 5,000 applicants.  It’s the first year of the new placement system that SFUSD officially approved last fall and the statistics are interesting:

Number of kindergarten applicants:  4,930

Number of those applicants who chose their neighborhood school as their #1 choice:  1,127 (23%)

Percentage of students who received one of their top three choices:  75%

Number of applicants who had Clarendon Elementary as one of their choices: 1,700

Number of kindergarten spaces at Clarendon:  88

Number of those spots already reserved for children of siblings already enrolled:  About 44

Check out more info in this article .


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THOUGHTS FROM AROUND THE BLOCK