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July 23, 2020

Moving Out of SF? Decide Where (and How) You’re Going

Everyone’s making big decisions these days when it comes to their lifestyles and where they want to live. If you’re a San Francisco homeowner who’s considering selling, you first need to strategize about where you’re going—and how you’ll make that happen.

Major transitions like moves need a plan. So here are my tips that will help you get your plan in order:
1. Decide where you’ll be going. The most common motivations for moving out of the city are connected to jobs, relationships, kids’ schools, family proximity, or lifestyle improvements (finances and/or surroundings). Whatever your reason, you need to be solid on where you want to go, which means doing your research if you aren’t familiar with certain locations you’re considering. This involves visiting potential areas (via Google Maps/Earth if you don’t want to fly around right now), and checking out home prices and the local market. Get a sense for values and how long it will take to purchase your next home.

2. Buy first and sell after, if possible. This is the ideal way to move, but it’s not always possible for everyone to take this path. You’ll either have the money available, or will need to get what’s called a bridge loan. Consult your favorite bridge loan lender (message me at for recommendations) and see if that’s a possible option. Bridge loans are interim loans with higher interest rates that you refinance out of once you get your sale proceeds. In addition to making the sale of your property much more streamlined, buying first allows you to bypass living in your home during the marketing period. Having a bunch of agents and buyers coming through during corona while you’re still living at the property isn’t preferable for homeowners right now.

3. Sell first and then buy your next home. The pro for this option is that you’ll know exactly how much money you’ll have to make your purchase. The cons are that you’ll be living in the property during the marketing period, which presents barriers to getting buyers and agents in during their desired timeframes. (Everything is by appointment now, as we can’t have open houses or broker tours.) Your home also likely won’t show as well online with your existing furnishings vs staging. If you’re unable to leave until you have your net proceeds, you’ll probably need to request what’s called a “rentback” from the buyer. This means you’ll stay in the home for 30-60 days after close of escrow so you can execute your move. Buyers typically don’t like rentbacks, because they like to get the keys and kick their own move into gear after close of escrow. At the very least, find a short-term rental so you have a landing place from which to search for your next home, and let your Realtor manage pre-sale work and showings with your house newly vacant.

4. Consult a tax advisor. It’s an excellent idea to talk with a tax advisor about the sale, particularly if you’ll have substantial proceeds after paying sale costs and existing liens like a mortgage. It’s key to plan for paying future capital gains taxes so you’re not caught empty handed when the tax bill is due.

5. Confirm whether you can transfer your property tax base to your next home. If you’re 55 or older and you’re moving from one primary residence to another, there are certain counties that will let you keep your property tax base. You may also want to use these reciprocal counties as a guide to where you may live next. For example, Alameda currently lets you carry your tax base, but Contra Costa doesn’t. You get the picture. Here’s a recent post that I wrote on the subject.

If you’d like to chat about your plans and strategize a bit, please don’t hesitate to contact me at or 415.823.4656. It’s easy enough to schedule a consultation free of charge, and I’m not the type of Realtor who will keep popping up to pressure you to hurry up and move. I understand that moving is a process and a big change, and you need to do it in your own timeframe.

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