3 Tips for Buying Real Estate in San Francisco

San Francisco is one of those enchanting corners of the world that draws visitors and residents alike. If you’ve ever been, you get it. The city’s endless charms make it a highly desirable place to live. So for all you wannabe-locals, here are three tips for buying real estate in San Francisco.

Need to Know

A few quick, useful facts about the city:

  • It’s the second most expensive in the country, which is likely why it ranks third in the country for median household income.
  • Every neighborhood has a unique reputation, and things can change quickly from one block to the next.
  • The food is outrageously good (not technically a fact, but true all the same) and pretty much everywhere – there are 39 restaurants per 10,000 households, which is the most among large metro areas across the nation.
  • It’s crowded. In 2018, the population in the city was 889,092.

When it comes to real estate, it’s helpful to start with an experienced, knowledgeable real estate agent. You’ll save time and aggravation by letting an agent help you zero in on properties that suit your budget and your needs. They can offer the sort of insight you won’t find on a real estate website – things like the commute during rush hour, how bike-friendly various neighborhoods are, restaurants and coffee shops you can’t miss, and other insider details. To get a feel for different neighborhoods, don’t limit yourself to online research or what you can see from the car. Get out there on foot to really understand what it would be like to call a specific neighborhood home.

Now, About Those 3 Tips

  • Cash is great, but it’s not a slam dunk. All-cash offers will give you an edge in any multiple-offer scenarios – and those are likely – but it’s no guarantee that things will go your way. 
  • The market is constantly evolving. Sales prices and comparable units from just a few months ago likely won’t matter today. A good agent will be able to advise you about realistic price points.
  •  San Francisco is a highly unique market. That means traditional real estate wisdom may not necessarily apply. Really great advice for another market may be totally out of touch here. A surplus of qualified buyers and limited listings makes it a seller’s market, and it’s prudent to remember that.

The Takeaway

Don’t navigate San Francisco real estate solo. An experienced and knowledgeable real estate agent is contractually obligated to protect your best interests, and you’ll only benefit from their expertise. Interestingly, it’s estimated that approximately 25% of inventory in this city trades hands never having reached open market – good agents are plugged into that “shadow inventory.”  And one more tip – be wary of online pricing estimates for area home values. I’ve noticed wildly different numbers for the same property from one site to another – as much $250,000+ swings in their estimated pricing. The discrepancy is so significant, I’ve taken to documenting the differenceson my Instagram account. 

If you’re ready to take the plunge with San Francisco real estate, let’s talk.

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