Get to know the area, find out what you like and do not like, then you can make the decision to purchase. After getting to know the different areas, then look for an agent. The best way to find an agent is through a trusted friend or co-worker.Good luck and have a happy 4th.
Thanks for your 2nd post, and my appologies for not checking your profile to see that you live in GA.
Please check out http://www.zephyrsf.com/buy/explore-neighborhoods , click on the district # and then choose the nieghborhood. Each one has either a short video or photo slide show with a commentary. there are also many interesting little facts about the city on the site.
The areas your friends mentioned to you plus, Castro & Duboce Triangle could work for you.
Each are does have its own upside and downside. Your choices will be defined by how Urban you want to go and how much you can afford or want to trade off. Would you consider leased parking? Some areas or more difficult to to find parking with a building and you can pay quite a premium for this.
If you would like to talk in person to go over the areas please give me a call on my cell, you can find this at http://www.zephyrsf.com/san-francisco-agents/matthew-goulden . I promise you that if you call me I will not keep calling you back, but I would like the chance to listen to your needs and answer your questions in more detail. I would easily run out of the 5000 characters allowed here to answer you properly.
I think that the best way to get to know all these areas we ( and your freinds) are talking about is to come to SF and visit them (drive by and walk around to feel each neighborhood, stop for a lunch/dinner, visit local stores and etc.)
Your 1st question has been answered pretty well. My Q for you is how well do you know these areas ? This is a large purchase and there is nothing worse than buying in an area and then discovering that it's not for you.
For Agents, either ask frinds for referrals or when you are searching for an agent you really need to check out thier testamonials. After that go and meet 2 or 3 of them for a coffee / chat and see who you feel is right for you.
There are many good areas. Most important is your budget. You can go to many websites, my own included - http://www.sallyrosenman.com - and learn about all the areas in San Francisco. In some areas, you would only want certain streets to get that Walkescore:95. in other areas like Noe Valley, South Beach, Potrero Hill, you will have more of a choice. There is a big difference between a single family home and a condominium. Be sure to ask your realtor to point out the advantages of each (presuming you mean homes when you speak of independent homes.)
Back to your budget. Talk to a banker AND a mortgage broker unless you are paying all cash. All of us have bankers and mortgage brokers we deal with and like for their ability to listen and to get just the right loan. My Resource list on my website has many good ones you can call. This is crucial since you will need a pre-approval letter from one of them to be given with your purchase offer. Once you know your comfort level for a purchase price, then start to talk to realtors.
Lastly, many of us can serve as your realtor. I would interview 3 and go with the one with whom you feel the most comfortable. You can check my References/Testimonials on my website as well. If someone will not submit to an in-person or telelphone interview, tell them no thanks. It is very important that you have a good relationship with your realtor and you know she is putting you on the "front burner" so to speak.
All of us can put you on the MLS to get a look at properties the moment we see them. This will enable you to be on top of the market and have a better idea of property when you decide to buy. We can take you out on Tuesday tours with us, plan evening or weekend tours as well. And we will be there from start to finish to give you guidance for a successful close of escrow.
Happy July 4th!
I just want to add that each neighborhood in SF has some positive or some negative features to YOU. Each person has different opinions. I would recommend you to explore and see what YOU like.
Also, to have 2 bed 2 bath and parking will limit your search,plus what is your budget ... it is very important- each neighborhood has different medium price or you have to compromise: what is more important... 2 bath? Size ? Location?
Our company has very nice website with neighborhoods MarketShot. It will give you an idea of what you can get for your money.
Your first question has been well covered.
To further elaborate on your 2nd question:
As has been mentioned, interview a few agents, review testimonials, and talk with their clients.
A few tips on interviewing agents:
To narrow down your search, I recommend focusing on agents who have taken additional continuing ed courses/training for designations such as CRS, GRI, ABR (Accredited Buyers Rep). These are mini-degrees in real estate with specific training on negotiating skills, technology & understanding buyer/seller needs.
ABR defined: http://www.cbower.com/Is-Your-Realtor-An-ABR#portfolio_top
Good luck & have a great 4th of July!
Cheryl Bower, Realtor , GRI, ABR, CRS (in progress)
Zephyr Real Estate
Those are good areas, although I would add Mission Dolores and Duboce Triangle, and if you don't mind larger complexes (I am not a fan for many reasons) South Beach and Mission Bay. It also depends on what kind of lifestyle you want. A lot of Potrero is not particularly walkable, and the Mission, Hayes Valley, and SOMA all have dodgy areas that you will have to either avoid or balance against price.
If you are moving here from another area or don't know the city well I think renting is a good idea because there are nuances to each area that you won't likely be able to understand until after a purchase. Nothing worse than being the proud owner of a place in an area you don't like.
With regards to representation you'll be hard-pressed to do better than dealing with the owner of the company. My team and I understand that the sale goes on long after the deal is closed and you are going to tell your family and friends about your experience for good or bad. One of the reasons we have remained busy even though we don't advertise s because we frequently advise people not to buy if we don't think it's a good deal, preferring to wait until the right place comes along for each client.
To make sure you have the right people behind you I would interview a few experienced, reputable Brokers - and there are many who post here - and pick the one that best fits your needs. Even though the seller pays the buyer Broker's fee, it does matter who you choose. An excellent Broker can save you tons of money through negotiation and help you avoid getting into buildings with issues. Take your time and find the RIGHT one.
Lance King/Owner-Managing Broker
I tend to agree with David about renting a for a while. But if you are ready, here is a link on the warmer neighborhoods and homes with character:
You can bookmark the link and view available properties any time. I have a client who has viewed over 80 properties with me in 7 neighborhoods and has changed criteria several times. She is in contract right now and very happy about her choice. It's an educational process until one truly knows what the ideal property might be.
Here is a link that may be of help as far as the financial side of things:
Broker Associate - DRE1844627
Paragon Real Estate Group
You'll be happy in any of the areas you mentioned I'm sure. I would even take some time to narrow down that as well. Decide what you like and what you dont like about the neighborhoods. I bet you'll discover 2 or 3 areas that are more desirable to you above all the rest and thats where you should focus.
In regards to choosing an Agent, I would recommend calling a few people and just having a very "frank" conversation with them. Explain that you do not have an Agent but are looking for one and you'd like to talk to them informally. Your gut will tell you if someone is not a match for you, even through a phone call. Then if you're comfortable with an Agent then use them.
I feel it is best to develop a relationship with an Agent, regardless of the side of the fence you're on right now. Buying/Selling....it doesn't really matter when you've built a relationship.Also, having a separate Agent work with you other than the Listing Agent is added protection for you. An extra set of eyes and ears working for you exclusively sets you up for success whatever the situation.
I hope my 2 1/2 cents helps! (Inflation....)
I would be happy to represent you. Let's meet in my office to discuss all the details .
I've just closed several deals in SoMa and another 2 bedroom is coming on a market soon. I'm very patient and my clients are happy with me.
Give me a call.
How much are you approved for?
It is very important.
If you are not approved, then I can give you a contact for of a loan officer.
After you will be approved, then we can discuss your housing metter.
My phone is 415.351.8842