While you’re likely eager to start looking at properties, getting pre-approved for a loan is a smarter first move. Working with a reliable lender who understands the San Francisco real estate market will ease your home buying journey in two ways: First, a quality lender will help you assess your finances, process all the paperwork, and line you up for a loan you can afford; and second, they will protect you from financing falling through just when you’re on the cusp of victory. I am happy to share my list of recommended lenders.
Explore the Market
Once you know how much you can afford, it’s time to start going to open houses and looking through listings online. At first, cast your net wide to learn what’s available, where, and — importantly — for how much. There will likely by a dramatic difference between a property’s listing price and its sales price. Use this knowledge to narrow in your search to places you like and on which you anticipate that you can make a competitive offer.
Find Your Dream Home
One day you’ll walk in the door of an open house and know you’ve found something worth pursuing. Take a deep breath and look closer. Make sure the home satisfies all your requirements. Have your agent request a disclosure package for you and then read it — it will provide additional detail and spell out what work needs to be done to the house. If everything still looks good, i’ll review other comparable homes that have sold recently (“the comps”) and help you assess what kind of offer would be both appropriate and likely successful.
Make an Offer
After deciding on an offer strategy and price with you, I’ll assemble the paperwork, proof of funds, and everything else we need to send to the seller’s agent. Most often, we’ll hear back within 24 hours if our bid is the winner, although sometimes we’ll find out that the seller wants us to consider a counter-offer. This is the stage of the process where I can help most. I serve as your experienced strategic negotiator, using my deep knowledge of the market and other agents’ personalities to advance your best interests.
Once your offer has been accepted, it’s time to get excited. You’ll officially be “in escrow”, which means the 3% deposit funds you submitted with your offer will be put into a holding account. Escrow typically lasts from 21 to 30 days in San Francisco. During this time you’ll be taking care of your due diligence including getting property insurance and transferring utilities in your name. You’ll be in close contact with your lender as you finalize your financing — and here’s where having a reliable lender really makes the difference. Get ready to submit a lot of paperwork and to sign more documents than seems possible. Don’t worry; it’s worth it.
Once escrow closes, you are officially a homeowner. You’ll receive the keys and be free to move in or begin any renovations you have planned. I recommend you do a walk-through to re-familiarize yourself with the space, re-key all the doors, and open a bottle of Champagne. It’s a long, sometimes stressful process, but you’ve come through it a victor! Congratulations: you just bought a home!