Being a buyer is exciting but can be complicated. Here is some helpful information!
The San Francisco Association of Realtors uses districts and sub-districts to identify neighborhoods. Here's a handy map. You can zoom in to see the districts and the names of the neighborhoods. Another good tool that I recommend to buyer clients is the website www.walkscore.com, which provides information about the immediate area around the property, such as transportation & shopping options.
How and Where to Find
Your New Home
There are lots of different ways that we find property listings, the most common being the Multiple Listing Service (MLS); second on the list is Top Agent Network, where lots of 'pocket' & 'coming soon' notifications are shared between agents. I will also leverage my association with Compass to provide you with access to Private Exclusive listings that can only be found on the Compass website by agents and their registered clients. I will set you up on a listing alert system named 'Real Scout' which will email you when new prospects hit the market. If you are surfing the web and find a property listing that looks interesting, send me a link and I will investigate.
When it comes to writing an offer, you'll need to make some big decisions. Obviously, the purchase price is a major one; but you'll also have to think about other terms such as inspections, and length of time necessary to work through contingencies. I'll help you guide you when it comes to writing up a contract; here's a sample Purchase Agreement.
Understanding Some Basic Terms/Arbitration
What happens if you get an accepted offer and then find out something negative during your inspection timeframe? Can you cancel the contract? What happens to your deposit? These types of questions are very common and important. Buyers should read and understand the "Liquidated Damages" and "Arbitration/Mediation" paragraphs in the Purchase Agreement.
In the offer, you will have to decide whether to sign the Arbitration and Liquidated Damages clauses in the Purchase Agreement.
In the Residential Purchase Agreement, there are two paragraphs that you can either accept and initial or decline to accept and decline to initial. Please see the attached explanations of two clauses in the Purchase Agreement---Liquidated Damages and Arbitration.
Tips on How to Make Your
There are a few things that Buyers can do to differentiate themselves from the crowd. One of the most common things done is to include a cover letter with their offer. Here is an example. When the situation is appropriate, I suggest that buyers include something like this. I have a lot of other advice and some strategic tips on how to make your offer standout; I will share that information with you as we move through the buying process together.
What do Closing Costs Include?
The term 'closing costs' basically means how much it costs a buyer to do the deal. Bulked into this term are: lender fees, escrow fees, title insurance, pro-rated property taxes, homeowner's insurance and pro-rated HOA dues (if applicable). Here's an example of what an Estimated Buyer's Settlement Statement looks like. Of course, each estimate is different based on the property details, downpayment amount, and month of close (for tax pro-ration purposes). Upon acceptance, you put your deposit into escrow, and then just before the close date, you'll need to come up with the remaining funds, which includes the balance of your downpayment and all of the fees. I explain all of this as we go. And here's some good news: buyers typically don't pay any commission for representation - that's usually a seller fee.
Learn About Property Taxes
If you're not already familiar with how the fiscal year works in terms of property taxes, here's a handy chart. Some lenders may require that the borrower/buyer set up "impound accounts" at the close of escrow, which means that a monthly amount is added to your mortgage payment to cover your yearly property tax bill. Some buyers like this arrangement because it breaks up the tax payments into monthly amounts and the lender sends the funds to the assessor; but if you choose to decline impound accounts, then your tax bill is mailed you directly, and it's due twice a year. Don't be late, because there are stiff penalties for delinquent payments.
Figure Out How You'll "Hold Title"
Single? Married? Sole ownership? Joint tenants? Community property? Right of Survivorship? Your type of ownership taken, also known as 'vesting of title' will dictate how you sign your closing papers and record the transaction. Here's a great informational brochure explaining the common ways to hold title in California.
A relationship is not about a piece of paper legally binding a buyer to an agent. Our relationship will be about a mutually beneficial interaction based on integrity and respect. If for some reason our relationship is not meeting your expectations please let me know and I will make adjustments immediately.