Home buyers usually have a wish list when they’re starting out—and a budget that might not get them everything they want. But if you’re open to some trade-offs, you can find a great place that will work for you.
Here are five things that are typically on home buyer wish lists and how you can get them by going beyond the obvious:
1. A house with a private yard. We’ll call this the San Francisco dream. But the reality is that single-family home market in areas like the Sunset, Richmond, Noe Valley or West Portal, for example, is very competitive. Try this instead: If your budget doesn’t quite make it and you aren’t prevailing in multiple-offer situations, consider a condo with exclusive-use outdoor space such as a deeded yard or roof deck. That photo above is my clients’ private yard at the condo they recently purchased in Glen Park. (They also have a private view roof deck.) Opportunities are out there if you’re open to the full spectrum of options.
2. A two-bedroom condo. This is the most popular type of condo. But there can be competition when it comes to two bedrooms with all the amenities, and perhaps your budget only allows for up to $1.5M or less. Try this instead: A “one-bedroom plus.” What’s the “plus?” A den/large alcove without a door that could totally work as an office or guest space. The one-bedroom plus den is a popular option among new construction offerings.
3. A condo with deeded parking. We have a lot of older architecture and limited space, so garage parking isn’t always available. Try this instead: Leased parking nearby, especially if you’re not using your car on a daily basis.
4. A second bathroom. Ah, the holy grail of the amenity set. Loving that house or condo that only has one bathroom? Keep the faith, there are ways to add one during your ownership. Try this intead: Look for space within the property where you can add a half or full bath. For example, a large closet positioned next to the existing full bathroom off the hall is a popular location for an additional full bath. You can tie in to the plumbing that’s already there, and add another closet or large armoire for storage space.
5. A three-bedroom house. One where all three bedrooms are on the main level, right? Suffice to say, that floor plan is in high demand. Try this intead: Look for homes that have a sunroom attached to two rear bedrooms (great office or baby space), or a garage with expansion potential.
The main point here is that you can’t look at San Francisco real estate in a general way; it all comes down to the details. Let your agent know what you need and why you need it. A good agent will be able to point you in the direction of homes that will get you what you want without exceeding your budget.