Buying a Home in San Francisco

Contrary to popular culture’s insistent portrayal, being a buyer’s agent means more than just me showing you the best places in San Francisco. I will show you the best places in San Francisco for you, after we’ve spent time together homing in on what you really want in your next abode.

I’ll also teach you everything you need to know about financing your purchase, from understanding and reviewing your options to finding the perfect lender, all the way through close of escrow. If you’re a first-time buyer, I’ll take you through inspections and property taxes 101, while if you’re a seasoned shopper I’ll help you leverage your existing knowledge for maximum benefits.

My buyers are in the house of their dreams within three months and two offers; I invite you to experience it yourself.

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What kind of place are you looking for?

San Francisco is a collection of neighborhoods, each with its own distinct main street and assemblage of eclectic architecturalstyles and property types. Whether it is a house or TIC in one of the many Victorians or Edwardians in the Upper Market neighborhoods, or a condo in one of the modern skyscrapers or rehabilitated lofts in the South of Market neighborhoods, deciding where and how you want to live is a central part of the home-buying process. Privacy, accessibility to public transportation, nightlife, distance from work, parks, shopping, etc. will all play into this important decision.

SINGLE FAMILY RESIDENCE

A house in the traditional sense and often also called SFD, SFH, or SFR. It is a residential building usually occupied by just one household and consists of just one dwelling unit.

CONDOMINIUM

A form of real estate ownership in which the owner receives title to a particular unit—generally a separately owned space whose interior surfaces (walls, floors and ceilings) serve as its boundaries—and has a proportionate interest in certain common areas.

STOCK CO-OPERATIVE (CO-OP)*

A form of multiple ownership in which a corporation or business trust entity holds title to a property and grants occupancy rights to shareholders by means of proprietary leases or similar arrangements.

*Co-ops tend to require specialized financing for purchase

TENANCY IN COMMON (TIC)*

A form of fractional ownership in which each owner owns a percentage of the property with no right of survivorship in the other owners. A detailed written agreement describes each owner’s exclusive rights to use and occupy particular dwelling units, along with
assigned parking, storage and deck areas.

*TICs tend to require specialized financing for purchase

Where are you looking to live?

This map reflects median home sales prices in San Francisco neighborhoods for the 12-month period through May 2019. Median sales prices are generalities that often fluctuate and can be affected by other factors besides changes in fair market value. They typically disguise a huge range of prices in the underlying individual sales, and how these median sales prices relate to any particular home is impossible to say without a specific comparative market analysis.


Run cursor over map to pull up icons and prices!

Updated June 1, 2019. All prices should be considered approximate. Data per sales reported to MLS, deemed reliable, but may contain errors and subject to revision.

 

The Home-Buying Process

It’s not quite this simple, but here’s a handy overview for what you can expect when we get to work. Ready to jump in for real? Reach out, I’m ready when you are.

Considerations

  • Needs, wants and priorities
  • Purchase timeline
  • Financial parameters and costs
  • Buyer-agent relationship

Preparation

  • Financing pre-approval
  • Assessment of market conditions & values
  • Learning property types
  • Neighborhood pros and cons

Search

  • Listing information review
  • Home tours and open houses
  • Exploring options/Learning the market
  • Finding the home you wish to buy

The Offer

  • Property documents review
  • Comparative market value analysis
  • Negotiation of best terms and price
  • Offer acceptance

“How do I know whether I want to rent or buy?”

Great question and a great place to start! Our friends at Nerd Wallet have created a handy calculator so that you can input variables while considering the move that’s right for you. There’s also a handy list of other factors to consider besides strictly cost.

Rent vs buy calculator »

Predicting Your Mortgage

If you do decide you’re ready to buy, another crucial factor is to understand your budget, which includes mortgage. Once again, Nerd Wallet has come through with a calculator for this too—”see how your monthly payment changes by making updates to your home price, down payment, interest rate, and loan term.”

Mortgage calculator »

Closing Costs for Buyers

Very generally speaking, a buyer can expect that closing costs will run anywhere from 1% to 2% of the purchase price, the major variable being the loan points charged, if any, by their lender. I am always getting this question from buyers and it’s really tough to estimate exact closing costs, but here is slightly more detail.

The first thing to understand is that there are three major parts to buyer closing costs:

1. Bank Fees – It’s important to ask your bank the total amount of their fees and you should get a clear answer. They generally include:

  • Appraisal ($650+/-)
  • Credit Reports ($40+/-)
  • Tax service ($62+/-)
  • Flood certificate (if necessary) ($10)

2. Title & Escrow Fees – This is variable based on your loan amount and your purchase price. Once you identify a property, I will contact the Escrow office who has opened pre-escrow to get an estimate of the included Title & escrow fees below.

  • Title Fee (varies based on purchase price)
  • Owners policy (varies based on purchase price)
  • Lenders policy (varies based on loan amount)

3. Recurrent Closing Costs

  • Annual Premium for Homeowner’s Insurance (usually under $2,000)
  • Pro-rated Property Taxes (varies) – your portion of property taxes will be pro-rated with the seller depending on where we are in the year and which installments they have already paid (see below section on Property Tax installment schedule) I will help you understand what portion of property taxes will be due at closing.
  • Pro-rated interest (varies) – talk to your lender about what this amount will be

As you can see, there are many variables that go into calculating your closing costs, but I hope this helps to explain a little further detail. Feel free to reach out to go over this in more detail.

Property Taxes in San Francisco

Under State law (Proposition 13), real property is reappraised only when a change-in-ownership occurs, or upon completion of new construction. Except for these two instances, property assessments cannot be increased by more than
2% annually, based on the California Consumer Price Index. For the fiscal year 2017-2018, the Property Tax Rate = 1.133% of the assessed value (purchase price).

The Tax Year

Property taxes are charged on a fiscal year beginning July 1st and ending June 30th; hence tax years are referred to as 2004/2005, 2005/2006. Taxes are billed in two equal installments: first installment covers July 1st through December
31st, second installment covers January 1st through June 30th. Tax bills are sent to homeowners in the last week of October. Tax payments are due November 1st and February 1st; tax payments are delinquent on December 10th and April 10th.

How to Calculate Property Taxes

In most cases, the assessed valuation in your first year of ownership will be the same as the purchase price. It may be increased by up to 2% per year for each year you own the property. If you own and occupy a dwelling on March 1st as
your principal place of residence, you are eligible to receive a reduction of up to $7,000 of the dwelling’s taxable value. To receive this exemption, you must file a claim with the Assessor. Once you receive the exemption, it is not necessary to
file each year as long as you own and occupy the residence.

Mello-Roos Community Facility Districts

Mello-Roos districts are designated areas which have issued bonds for community facilities, for example, earthquake retrofitting of schools, and for which annual tax levies are collected as part of the property tax billing. There are
two districts in San Francisco. One encompasses the entire City and the other is a small area South of Market. The cost for the Mello-Roos Community Facility Bonds in most parts of San Francisco is $32.10 for a single family residence.

Supplemental Taxes

Upon change of ownership, the Assessor’s Office will reappraise the property and will bill the new owners for any difference in taxes resulting from a higher assessed value. The Assessor will issue you a supplemental assessment bill
which is prorated based on the number of months remaining in the fiscal year ending June 30th.

Can You Disagree with the Amount?

You may apply to the Assessor to see if that office will change the valuation. This is typically called an Informal Review. Additionally, Appeals Boards have been established for the purpose of resolving valuation problems. Appeals on regular
assessments may be filed between July 2nd and September 15th. Appeals on corrected assessments, escaped assessments (those that did not take place when they should have), or supplemental assessments must be filed no later than 60 days from the mailing date of the revised tax bill. If you choose to appeal, pay your tax installments in full by the deadlines or you may incur penalties. If the appeal is granted, a refund will be issued to you.

Check out the San Francisco Assessor’s Office FAQ Sheets »

Resources for Homeowners

Once we get you into your new home, I remain a dedicated resource for you to ensure that you have everything you need as a homeowner. I maintain a large list of preferred vendors for everything from finance and inspectors, to locksmiths and designers, cleaning services and pest control. I can always connect you with specifically what you need, but feel free to check out some of of my preferred go-tos below.

View preferred list »

My Promise to You

  • Whether you’re a first-time buyer or a seasoned shopper, I will make this experience feel fresh and fun.
  • I will explain the home buying process from the beginning, letting you know exactly what to expect every step of the way—you’ll be a pro by the end!
  • I will empower you to understand finances as they apply to the home-buying process, from being aware of your personal standing to working effectively with a lender, and knowing how to leverage your assets and position yourself to appeal maximally to a seller.
  • I will show you homes that suit YOU—I believe in custom-tailored quality over quantity so that I’m not wasting your time with places that don’t meet your criteria.
  • I will consistently make you feel like you’re my priority, because you are! This means I will work around your schedule and communication preferences so that I am always available for you when you need.
  • I am impeccable with deadlines and paperwork, and I will make sure you have all pertinent info about a house BEFORE you make an offer.
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