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October 7, 2019

Set Your Strategy Before You Start Your Search

414 27th Street Noe Valley

I know it’s fun to skip around Redfin and other home search sites, hit open houses after brunch and request a disclosure package here and there when you get the urge to dip your toes into the San Francisco real estate pool. But if you’d rather cut to the chase and kick off a serious home search that will produce results, I have a few tips for you.

There are a few key things you should do before you plot out your Sunday open house tour. Getting preapproved for a loan is the number one priority, so you know what you can afford. Second, get your real estate agent on board. He or she is going to be key with respect to guiding you so you don’t waste time in a number of ways.

And then sit down for a comprehensive meeting with your real estate agent to chat about your price point and what’s out there. I always back into what a buyer can afford. For example, if $1.5M is your limit, I provide a list of recent sales within that range so you can see exactly what type of property and neighborhood are realistic.

If you’re cool with what you can afford, you then need to structure your search so you’re leaving room for the appropriate level of overbidding. The market might be cooling off in places, but when it comes to, say, single-family homes in good locations, you can still count on overbidding.

I recently met with a buyer couple that’s aiming to purchase a three-bedroom house in the city for up to $2,000,000 (the average, these days, for a house in San Francisco). We did a deep dive into relevant sales, with a particular focus on Noe Valley and a handful of other neighborhoods they preferred.

We discussed the fact that though the average citywide single-family overbid over the past quarter is 15%, three-bedroom homes in Noe are selling for an average of 20% over the list price. (The same goes for Bernal Heights, the Outer Parkside, Ingleside, Crocker Amazon, Silver Terrace, Portola, and Mission Terrace.)

This couple had mentioned that they’d been attending open houses for properties listed at around $2M. I pointed out that Noe homes listed for $2M will probably sell for $2.4M or $2.5M, depending on the amenities and location. (Case in point: 414 27th Street, above photo. The 3BR home listed for $1,995,000 closed escrow for $2.4M.)

And along with price, it’s important to know how to structure a competitive offer once you’ve found a home you love. Your agent should be able to guide you when it comes to contract contingencies and how you can craft the offer that wins over sellers.

Your agent should be able to tell you what properties are worth your time seeing, and also suggest a few out-of-the-box ideas or off-market opportunities along the way. Because you never know, for example, if that two-story condo in a great location with a private yard will surprisingly fulfill your dream of owning a single-family home in San Francisco.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like to kick off the conversation. You can reach me, Eileen, at or 415.823.4656. I’ve been a San Francisco Realtor since 2002 and will be able to use my experience and market knowledge to your advantage.

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