Home Buying in Inner Sunset>Question Details

Mandy, Home Buyer in San Francisco, CA

First time home buyer in San Francisco, have already seen a place that I like, what is the next step? get a

Asked by Mandy, San Francisco, CA Mon Jul 21, 2008

buyer's agent or a real estate lawyer? what is the difference? or do I get both?

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Ugo Baldassari’s answer
Your best move is to find a Realtor (better than just an agent) who will work exclusively for you, guiding you through the many steps in the home-buying process. There are many fine, experienced Realtors in San Francisco who would be willing and able to work on your behalf. I am one of them, Mandy. Your best bet is to check me out on my website, http://www.ugo4homes.com. If you like what you see, contact me for a no-cost, hassle-free consultation during which I will explain my services. If we hit it off, you'll be on your way to home ownership; if we don't, you'll still be further along in your quest.

Best Wishes,
Ugo Baldassari
The Paragon Real Estate Group
Web Reference: http://www.ugo4homes.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 27, 2011
Your next step is to bring up the neighborhood on Trulia. Click on the foreclosures check box. Marvel at the forest of green pushpins. Then ask yourself, will prices be higher, or lower, after all that inventory hits the market?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 15, 2009
Dear Mandy,

An experienced agent who works with first time buyers can ably assist you. He or she should have a first time buyers booklet to give to you that shows you what is involved with a purchase. He/she can walk you step by step throughout the process. She/he will also read all of the paperwork given to you and help answer all your questions or will find out the answers for you. Your agent will make up a Comparative Market Analysis for all sales in the neighbhorhood similar to yours and will also do a run of sales in the complex to show you how well the building has been selling. That way you will be well informed when you make your offer.

A real estate attorney can help you understand the paperwork and can guide you through the offer but cannot give you a market analysis of properties that have sold and cannot give you an idea of what to bid for today's ever-changing market. A real estate attorney is a good idea if you are buying into a building that has a TIC agreement in place for the attorney can look over the current Agreement and discuss it with you. A realtor can do the same but cannot give you legal advice. An attorney can help draft a TIC Agreement if you are buying into a TIC. Condo CC&Rs will already be in place if you are buying into a condominium complex. An attorney can help you with that paperwork as well.

You will be paying an attorney. You will not be paying your agent. The Seller pays a commission which is split between the buying and selling agents. While that is at no cost to you, most Sellers have built in the commission into their selling price, so in a sense you are paying for that.

Lastly, and really firstly, your realtor can help hook you up with a mortgage broker or banker to help you get pre-approved for a loan. Your realtor can help advise you on loans but a mortgage broker is best because he./she has a finger on hundreds of loans....even from banks as the banks discount the loans to the mortgage brokers to get them to use the bank as a loan source.

I hope this is helpful and am happy to answer any more questions for you. If I hear from you, great! If not, I am sure you will find a good agent who will guide you through the process.


0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 14, 2009
Buyer's Agent or Real Estate Attorney or Both? The answer really depends on where you live.

In NYC, for example, it is customary to work with both a buyer's agent and an attorney. It seems like the buyer's agent helps you locate the property and then your attorney handles the contract negotiations and the escrow.

In San Francisco, Realtors handle both aspects. We help our clients figure out how to find the best home for their particular needs. We negotiate on their behalf and prepare all of the paperwork (contracts, disclosures...) and we organize the escrow's transactional details.

Any buyer or seller can consult an attorney if they want. Certainly, any smart agent would encourage this if the client is interested. That said, in my experience, a lawyer is usually brought in when the transaction is extra complicated or has extenuating circumstances, like TIC or tenant-occupied purchases.

It is a fabulous time to be a first time buyer.

While the mortgage markets are tough for many home buyers, there are great new options for first time buyers through the increased conforming loan limits and improved FHA standards! Using the safe and stable FHA loans, you can purchase a home with 5% or even 3% down. Rates are good too and these are most often 30-year fixed loan programs.

The programs will not work for some condos or higher-priced homes but if you're looking at the first time buyer end, it is smart to check out the benefits of buying before the end of the year.

For more compelling reasons, check out the blog link below or cut & paste http://sfhotlist.com/blog/2008/08/20/calling-all-1st-time-bu… into your browser.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 29, 2008
Hello Mandy,

If you are buying something already on the market, you need a buyer's agent as mentioned below. Pre-approval is a must. However, since you have “already seen” something, perhaps it is not on the market?

I know an excellent real estate attorney, Jaime Uziel, ju@sheppardlaw.com, who represents buyers in special situations where no Realtor is involved. Some buyers want to deal directly with sellers, thinking that they will save the commission, but have an attorney look out for their interests. Jaime grew up in a real estate family and has a license.

This scenario is typical where tenants buy the place that they rent or the rare FSBO in San Francisco.

But before I get my fellow Realtors upset with me, if it is listed, the listing agent is only legally obligated to represent the seller. You need your own agent to represent your interests.

Good luck!

0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jul 22, 2008
Hi Mandy,

Good points are made below. We do not work with attorneys unless YOU want to have one look over your contract, then we can recommend excellent real estate attorneys for you to contact.
You need to choose a Realtor who works a lot with first-time buyers and has things made specifically to help Buyers like you understand the whole process. And one who will work with you step-by-step explaining the process from finding the property (which you did) to how to find a good loan to getting yourself pre-approved to making the offer to what happens after the offer is accepted and all the steps of Escrow to the Closing of Escrow and handing you the keys to your new home!
You should interview a couple of Realtors and check out their websites. I know many of us would be delighted to work with you!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 21, 2008
If you have a property selelcted it is important that you pick a Realtor to work with quickly. We don't use attorneys to handle Real Estate transactions in CA. But you need to move on the process. Our market is still competative in some areas and depending on the marketing and price ot the property it could go quickly.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 21, 2008
Jed Lane, Real Estate Pro in San Francisco, CA
Hi Mandy,

As already mentioned, talking with a lender about the pre-approval process, and having a loan in place to purchase a property will be your first order of business. This will help you determine how much money you will need for a down payment and closing costs and will also help you determine your price range based on what monthly payment you are comfortable with. Because you are a first time home buyer, there are programs available to first time home buyers that may be a good fit for you. I can highly recommend Chris Hudson of My Home Loan Plan. He is very knowledgeable, honest and straightforward. He can be reached at Chris@MyHomeLoanPlan.com or at 925-429-5226.

Once you have a pre-approval I would suggest you work with a Real Estate Agent to represent you the buyer to help you find a property and to negotiate on your behalf. This way you can ensure that your best interests are looked after when purchasing your home. Real Estate Lawyers are typically used back East in New Jersey and New York for example, but are not required for Real Estate Transactions in California.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Good luck!

Lisa Cartolano
Alain Pinel Realtors
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 21, 2008
Hi Mandy,

Start the pre-approval process if you haven’t already and interview a few agents. I don’t believe real estate lawyers will have the in depth market knowledge & MLS access that a Realtor has. A Realtor will be familiar with the inventory, neighborhoods, and has access to the MLS to pull market data and comparable sales.

An agent will also have a team of professionals (pest inspectors, home inspectors, roofers, etc.) to bring into the transaction during the inspection period. I continue to stay in touch with my clients after their purchase as a resource for their remodeling needs.

I always strive to provide a high level of service to clients and am able to do so through specialized education. I am an Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR) & a Graduate of Realtor Institute (GRI). I have also been buying, renovating and selling S.F. real estate for 15+ years.

Give me a call if you’d like to chat about the services I offer my buyer clients.
Web Reference: http://www.cbower.com/
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 21, 2008
Hi Mandy,

Typically real estate lawyers are not necessary in California real estate transactions (though I know my brothers need them back east). Your next step is to connect with a realtor that can help you get pre-approved with a lender (every seller will require a letter to show that you are able to purchase their home). Once you've completed that step, they'll work with you to write and submit your purchase offer. You didn't mention the price range that you're looking at or what you've saved for a down-payment. These are very important considerations, and there are a lot of options out there (regular financing, FHA, etc). Buying a home can be stressful, but it should also be fun and exciting! Best of luck to you. :-)
Web Reference: http://www.yourSFhome.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 21, 2008
Hi Mandy,

Have you been pre-approved by a lender yet? Typically you will want to provide a pre-approval letter with your offer. If you contact some lenders today you should end up such a letter within a day or two.

As to special first-time buyer programs, I am approved with the Mayor's Office of Housing MCC program and the Redevelopment Agency programs, also some programs for police and teachers. These programs all have income limitations.

I work with many top agents in the City who love working with first-time buyers and would be happy to provide you with some names.

Please contact me if you need help with a pre-approval, a special program or an agent's name.
Web Reference: http://www.natashalovas.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 21, 2008

The next step is a buyer's agent. The only reason you would need a real estate lawyer is if you were trying to acquire property in an unusual manner.

However, even more importantly is to find a good lender and find out how much home you qualify for. So in looking for a buyer' agent, make sure you find someone who works with first time homebuyers ("FTHB"). They should be able to guide you to all the special programs (CIty, county, state and federal) available for FTHB. They should also have good connections with lenders who administer these various programs and be able to connect you.

Have fun becoming a FTHB. Work with an agent who will take on the stress and focus your experience on the wonder and joy of buying your first home. And Dare to Dream.

Shel-lee Davis
Real Estate Consultant
RE/MAX Palos Verdes Realty
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 21, 2008
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