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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.
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.
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.
Needs, wants and priorities
Financial parameters and costs
Assessment of market conditions & values
Learning property types
Neighborhood pros and cons
Listing information review
Home tours and open houses
Exploring options/Learning the market
Finding the home you wish to buy
Property documents review
Comparative market value analysis
Negotiation of best terms and price
“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.
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.”
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
This lady is made of steel, and it’s no surprise she has all five star reviews. While I ran into her by chance, a little research showed she’d be a good choice. Most of the time it felt like I was her only client, she’s always available to meet and never in a rush. Par knows the market very well, and was incredibly quick to understand my preferences and multiple constraints. When it came to the buying process itself, her connections were invaluable – whether it was in finding the right lender, dealing with agents and inspectors, developers or building managers.
Par came highly recommended as a sellers’ agent by two separate people, and I can see why! When we first met, she actually recommended that I *not* sell my condo right away, as the market had not sufficiently recovered from its earlier downturn. Instead, Par continued to assess market conditions and, when the time was right, contacted me about selling my place. Once I made the decision to sell, Par was amazing—from her marketing, to her creativity, to her negotiation expertise. One week and five offers later, she got me an offer at 15% over my asking price. That’s 25% higher than what I would’ve received when I thought about selling a few years ago. I have and will continue to refer Par to my friends and colleagues.
A truly dedicated agent, Par worked diligently selling my condo in San Francisco. She was fully prepared and blew me away by the depth of her knowledge. She will always be highly recommended to my family and friends.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Par on different projects. She is efficient, able to determine the type of property that you are interested without wasting anyone’s time or energy. I’ve feel comfortable enough with Par’s efforts to refer her to family members and other colleagues. If I have any real estate questions or need for exploration, Par is on my list to call first.
I never write referrals—but I have to in this case, because Par is an 11 out of 10 type person. She is hands down, THE BEST realtor in the Bay Area…a one-of-a-kind human-to-home connector, who listens to her clients and immediately surfaces appropriate listings with personalized + lightening speed, that makes you feel like you are the only people on Earth buying a home. I cannot recommend her highly enough. This dame is a savvy, inventive & humorous house tiger who graciously fights for the needs of her clients in a way that other realtors clearly jive with. She was/is on-top of every part of the home-buying process and we felt like we were in (beyond) good hands—even when we had no idea what we were doing as 1st time home buyers. We will never use another realtor.
Tim and Patty
Abraham Lincoln once said, ‘Things come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.’ My wife and I feel extraordinarily privileged to have worked with a woman who knows how to hustle and get things done. Par is an agent you want on your side. She sprang into action and was a reliable advisor, as she helped us get the property we wanted, and then worked tirelessly on the due diligence of the sale. And, when I say tirelessly, I mean, she was answering emails at 11 pm—on Sunday nights, and answering every single question we threw at her! She got us the space under severe time constraints, and impressing us with both her tenacity and professionalism.
~Tim and Patty
I can’t speak highly enough of Par. My fiancée, who is an interior designer, and I met Par at an open house in our neighborhood before we were seriously shopping for homes. We hit it off with her right away and liked that she didn’t pressure us at all.
Fast forward five or six months and many open houses, and we thought we were ready to pull the trigger on a home. We called Par, and she made time to talk to us for about an hour to advise us on the home prior to our even hiring her. In the end, we decided it wasn’t the right fit for us, and we let her know that we were going to keep looking. We hadn’t yet sought to get pre-qualified for a purchase, and we just weren’t quite ready to make a move.
A few months later, we found another home that we liked. This time we got pre-qualified before calling Par. We toured the home multiple times both with and without her. She was incredibly willing to work around our schedule, and she asked us questions we hadn’t considered about the neighborhood and the home. The day before offers were due, we again decided that this wasn’t exactly the home we wanted. We let Par know, and she was incredibly supportive of our decision. Wow.
A few days later, I found a home I liked while browsing on Redfin. I told my fiancée, but she didn’t give it much thought as it was more than we planned to spend. Par reached out the very next day to point us to the same listing. She let us know that it might be exactly what we were looking for and that given it’s time on the market, we may be able to get it into our price range. We went and toured the home, and immediately knew it was the home for us.
We worked quickly to put in an offer. She provided great advice to us throughout this process, and ensured that we were comfortable with the decisions made throughout. She ensured that our needs were met regarding inspections and access to the home. We always knew where things stood and felt that nothing was going to get by her.
I don’t believe we’d have the home we have without Par. She knew exactly what we were looking for and worked hard to find it for us. Following the purchase, she helped us through a minor gas leak emergency and recommended the handyman that we used to fix this issue and to perform some minor construction work immediately following our move-in. She’s as good as it gets. I’d absolutely recommend her to anyone looking for a trustworthy and incredibly competent realtor.
You’re not going to find a more qualified, caring, honest and driven agent. Par will get the job done. Don’t look any further.
Par is super-responsive and a pleasure to work with — she knows the SF market well and helped us land the home we wanted.
All roads lead to Par. Throughout our home buying journey, we met mortgage brokers, selling agents, bankers, designers, even other buyers. And everyone knew Par. She has a great reputation because she loves what she does and works 24/7 on behalf of her clients. Highly recommended.
Par is awesome! She is professional, committed, knows the market and hustles to get you your house! And she is a nice person too.
Par is truly an insightful, dynamic and go-getter of an agent! Her approach to her clientele is always hands-on and readily available to help in any way. Par was instrumental in the sale of my condo in SOMA, and I will always recommend her to others who are in the market or simply in need of any real estate advice.
Par has in depth knowledge of the SF neighborhoods (which we did not) and was able to show us a variety of neighborhood options. Par took time to understand our needs upfront. With our needs in mind she was able to quickly match properties to us. She was professional and thorough and we were extremely happy with the condo we bought with her help.
Par Hanji is one of those people that completely puts you at ease the moment you meet her. My fiance and I met her briefly at an open house when we were not even in the market for a home. After speaking with her, we both knew that when the time came we wanted her as our agent.
Fast forward approx 6 months and she was our first call. We had been lightly looking when we fell in love with a home. We called Par right away who met with us, discussed options, and was kind enough to go into extream detail of the house buying process as I would be a first-time homeowner. While we decided not to make a move on that particular house it wasn’t long until we found THE ONE. As an Interior Designer, I was pretty picky on what I was looking for in a house. Par, has extensive knowledge of the San Francisco market and put this to use to find the gem of a house that was a perfect fit for us. She held our hand through the entire process putting me at ease – this is no easy task for what is a huge decision in life. She always took my calls, met with me when requested, was always happy to help when it was needed. Overall, I felt like she was on our side, as an agent, and as a friend. We got the house that we wanted and couldn’t be happier!
With our friends and family members purchasing and selling homes, Par is the only agent I recommend. I can’t say enough about Par Hanji, except if you are lucky enough to get Par as your agent than you are in very good hands!
Par is excellent. She is very dedicated and really puts the time in. We looked at many many places together and she hung in there with us until we found something. Also, she also has a lot more knowledge than many of the realtors you will find out there.
Its seems like these days there are many realtors who are just trying to jump in and make some cash during this crazy market but Par is not one of them. We will use her again when we look for more property or sell what we have.
Par is super chill and super professional at the same time. She took me to a yummy restaurant and we signed all the forms to buy my property via DocuSign. And mimosas. She made sure everything was quick and precise, and polite in my condo purchase in Diamond Heights
Par is an incredible realtor who can work with any client and understand their situation. She helped us find an incredible home in San Francisco without having to go through the bidding process – a very rare occurrence. We couldn’t have done it without her – I can only give her my highest recommendation and say it would be a mistake not to work with her.
Par is amazing! My husband and I had only heard horror stories about buying in San Francisco but Par made the experience quick and enjoyable. She really listened to what was important to each of us and set realistic expectations. Par found us an incredible home in Miraloma Park and we couldn’t be happier!
Par is literally the only agent I would ever go to for my buy/sell needs. I have been through at least 10 real estate transactions in my life so far and she is hands down the best of the best, I would highly recommend her!
Par came highly recommended by a coworker when I was looking to purchase a home. She is very professional, knowledgable, and nice to work with. She did an excellent job helping find the right place for me in my price range. When I relocated a few years later, Par worked with me to sell the property in a very difficult market. She kept me informed every step of the way a provided excellent advice. Thanks Par!
When I set out to buy a home in San Francisco I was full of questions, and Par was the only agent I spoke with that consistently took the time to educate and assist me with the process. Together we were able to find the perfect home. Since then I have consulted with Par over numerous phone calls and lunch meetings about everything real estate – from renovation choices, time to sell and buy, and locations. Regardless of how automated the real-estate transaction process becomes, Par will continue to be my go-to person. Her support makes a tangible and material difference.
Working with Par was a delight! She was competent, efficient, incredibly hard working, without being high pressure, and a lot of fun.
Par is an awesome realtor, and I could not be happier with the level of professionalism, knowledge, integrity and calm she demonstrated during the buying and selling process. Albeit securing the purchase of our new home to staging and managing the sale of our previous property – which sold well above asking in a couple of weeks. We also bought our new property under the asking price – a rare event in the San Francisco real estate market.
Thanks Par – we wouldn’t be in our house without you!
Par helped us find and buy a home in San Mateo in mid-2015. Both me and my wife were thoroughly impressed with Par’s approach to the home buying process – she was extremely professional while also being warm and friendly. We asked her a lot of questions that were answered with detail and data, and went a long way towards building our confidence in her judgement.
If you are looking for a home and need a smart, hard working realtor who has dependable knowledge of the Bay Area real estate market, you should give Par a call.
Par is an exceptional realtor and is dedicated to her clients. I had the pleasure of working with Par. She was extremely professional from the start of our relationship, and she impressed me with her knowledge and her non-pressure style. Par found an amazing off-market sale in our first weekend of looking in an incredibly competitive market in San Francisco. Our offer was accepted and we moved in about a month later. I have full confidence in Par and give her my highest recommendation.
Par Hanji is one of the most dedicated and hardworking people I have ever met. She is extremely intelligent and caring, and always goes the extra mile to make sure that your needs are taken care of. She communicates every step of the way, and listens to all your ideas and concerns. Working with Par was a pleasure, and there’s no real estate agent I would have rather worked with.
I had the pleasure of having Par help me find and purchase my first home. As a first time buyer I had no experience in finding and making offers on homes. She was a great help in understanding and explaining the processes and the important factors to keep in mind when looking at homes, reviewing the disclosures, and making an offer.
More importantly, and the main reason that I chose to work with Par, was that her first (and continued) focus was to get to know each person and understand what each individual was looking for in a home. We attended many, many showings together and would discuss each one afterwards. Shortly I saw that she could tell, sometimes faster than I could, if I liked a place.
The combination of all these skills really helped in my search, and far exceeded my expectations of a real estate agent!