Buying a Home in the SF Bay Area
The Bay Area is home to over seven million people, spanning nine counties that surround the San Francisco Bay. No doubt you’re familiar with our landmarks, amazing weather and cultural diversity. If you’re looking to buy a home, I would be honored to be your guide.
Finding the perfect home starts with gathering information. I have found that an initial 30-minute conversation provides an excellent starting point. During our call, I’ll ask several questions like:
- Where your work is located — as commute times vary greatly in Silicon Valley and proximity to work may be an important factor for you.
- How many people are in your family — so we can determine how many bedrooms, baths and overall square footage would best suit your needs.
- What are your school preferences — to narrow down your search to specific school districts or private schools.
- What price range fits your budget — so we can focus on homes you can afford in areas you want to live.
- Describe your lifestyle and must-have features — the Bay Area has more than 100 thriving communities with all types of architectural designs and features. Together we’ll find a home that best matches your lifestyle.
My Buying Advice
You are probably one of the 92% of buyers who use the internet to research real estate. While I encourage you to use sites like Zillow and Trulia to research neighborhoods and general home information, please note that the information on these sites may not be the most up to date. The best source for home buying is still the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). When working together we can determine your search criteria — by answering the questions mentioned above — and create a buying strategy. Additionally I will set up customized notifications (via a premium service); these alerts use the most current information available on the MLS letting you know when new homes become available.
The best first step in the home buying process is getting pre-approved for a mortgage. You may have heard that the Bay Area is known for having an abundance of cash buyers. While that may be true, most buyers still get mortgage financing.
Here’s my first (and most important) home buying tip — get pre-approved from a local lending source. Why? Sellers want to know that their transaction will proceed without a hitch. Knowing there’s a local office to drop off paperwork and where they can meet a lending professional in person goes a long way to ease a nervous seller. This financing strategy can also set you apart from other buyers in a multiple-offer situation.
A Personal Touch
Many sellers care about who is buying their home. Imagine selling the house where you raised your children. Knowing that that home will be enjoyed by another family can make the difference between an accepted offer… or not. My next home buying tip is to create a letter introducing yourself to the seller. I will help you by learning why the seller is listing their home and what may be important to them. Then we can craft a note that shows who you are, including details that shows stability and credibility, as well as why you love the house (striking a balance between an emotional appeal as well as practical considerations). If you’re comfortable, include a photo. People are naturally drawn to pictures. Pick one that’s genuine. It will also help the seller put a face to the name on the offer paperwork.
Chance Favors the Prepared
This home buying tip is related to the paperwork associated with submitting an offer. When a home becomes available on the market, you’ll want to act quickly. That’s why I review the property disclosures and any seller-provided documentation in advance of the offer deadline with my clients. As a result, the process of submitting an offer is streamlined and we can focus on a winning strategy.
Representation & Ethics Matter
My final home buying tip is about researching and choosing a real estate professional. My job as your Realtor is to protect your interests. You benefit from my specialized knowledge of the area, experience with property disclosures, and negotiation skills. In the Bay Area choosing the right Realtor is as important as securing the right mortgage financing.
The Realtor community is a relatively small one; we know and respect each other’s ability to complete a real estate transaction as smoothly as possible. If you decide not to be represented by a real estate professional, the seller and their agent are not confident that the selling process will proceed efficiently. Many times offers submitted by an unrepresented buyer, especially in a multiple offer market, do not win the bid.
Lastly, many years ago I made a professional decision not to represent both the buyer and seller on the same property transaction. In the real estate world this is known as “double-ending.” My decision to represent only one side of the transaction is an ethical one. As your Realtor my goal is to represent your interests to the best of my abilities. This practice allows me to focus on what you want and deliver the best results possible.