Home Buying in San Francisco>Question Details

Bob, Home Buyer in Canada, KY

I am a potential buyer from Canada interested in purchasing a property in SF.

Asked by Bob, Canada, KY Mon Feb 16, 2009

I am interested in purchasing a condo. Any tips/ advice would be greatly appreciated

Help the community by answering this question:


Hi Bob--Purchasing a property in San Francisco involves a lot of variables, such as price range, desired neighborhood, tolerance for doing one's own remodeling, openness to tenant-occupied properties, and type of condo you'd like (i.e., Victorian, new construction, etc). That's kind of the tip of the iceberg.

Once you find a unit you like, the investigation begins on items such as CC&Rs, HOA reserves, pending litigation, etc. Knowing which inspections to conduct is also key. As the market has changed, so has the complexity of a transaction.

On the financing side, your ducks need to be in a row with respect to a solid down payment, full lender approval based on your credit score, income, and assets. There's also an appraisal to get through.

Feel free to email me directly with specific questions. You're probably aware that San Francisco is offering a lot of excellent condo deals, and those deals are not escaping qualified buyers.

Eileen Bermingham
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 17, 2009

Buyer's are the boss right now, take your time, find the place you really want, and then work on the price.

Don't be scared to ask for the moon. You never know!

0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 28, 2009
Hello Bob,

To keep things really simple for you.

First, you will need to get pre-approved. In this market, it is critical to get this out of the way first. After you have been pre-approved it would best to work with a local professional realtor in the area you are interested in purchasing a property. I do have a few local realtors that I can refer you too.

If you should have additional questions, please don't hesitate to contact me at nsamiee@divcap.net.

Nelva Samiee
Real Estate Loan Consultant
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 24, 2009

There is too much a post could cover.... so #1 is find a Realtor to act as your Buyer's Agent who knows the city well, is very experienced with Condos, and you have good rapport and communication with. I suggest you interview at least 3 agents until you find someone who you feel good about, and I'd welcome the call or email to discuss it.

A highlight list of things to look out for:

1. Location, location, location - the properties holding their value the most in today's market are those in the most walkable areas, with the easiest access to shops, restaurants, and transportation. I'd recommend you visit at night, during the weekend, etc, etc. Get to know the areas, and hire a great Buyer's Agent who can help you get to know them even more.

2. Keep in mind that you will be living in a multi-unit building, and if noise or sharing anything is an issue for you, you need to examine the building closely. When in the condo you are considering, do your best to imagine living there... take note of whether or not anyone can see into your unit. Do noise tests. Notice is there are outdoor decks above, below or to the side of your unit that you would feel uncomfortable with. Top floor units in 2-unit buildings are generally the most expensive in SF because it's so private and avoids larger building issues.

3. Per the below recommendations definitely take a close look at the House Rules, the budget and Reserve account, etc. The most common items that can be issues for people are the Pet rules (limits on number, size or types of pets), carpet coverage (whether or not you are allowed to put any kind of floor covering like hardwood, or are mandated to cover all or part of your condo to reduce noise), move-in and move-out fees, whether or not you are allowed to rent your condo to a tenant, and if so for what term? The list goes on, but those are some of the top basics all buyers consider.

4. Top must-haves for many buyers in condos are in-unit laundry, deeded parking, deeded storage. Nice extras are roof decks & gyms.

Ahh, so much to consider. So I say again, interview 3 or more Buyer's Agents, share what you are looking for, your price range, and hire the one you feel most confident in and comfortable with.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 23, 2009
Hi Bob,

I work with many international buyers and you should consider several factors.

(1) Financing - Obvious a cash purchase is very straight forward however financing is a bit more complicated. (I have learned how to navigate around many of the pitfalls.)

(2) Pre-visit market knowledge - Learn as much as you can before you arrive. We always try to provide our clients with as much personal attention as possible before our initial tour. Many of my international clients have been given mis-information which has wasted a great deal of their time.

(3) Work with a highrise expert - We focus our practice on the condo market in San Francisco. We are in and out of the condo buildings on a daily basis and that makes a big difference when negotiating the best prices.

Please feel free to contact me if I may provide any further information.

James Testa
Paragon Real Estate Group
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 22, 2009
Hello Bob. Whether you're from Canada or Kentucky, there are some basic ideas you want to explore with your agent. It's good to say you need to look at the CC&Rs, Title, reserves and HOA documents; but there are some specifics you want to look for with an agent of your choice. As an agent who often works with the developer's agent, I've had clients with some specific questions: CC&Rs; pets - what is the restriction on pet ownership? is there a dog weight restriction; is there a set of breeds the condo association has banned; can you rent to someone who has a pet? Ah...renting; does the HOA allow you to rent your unit (some restrict this); but what if you have a parking spot you may want to rent out - does the HOA restrict that parking space rental to just occupants in the building, or anyone in general? Speaking of parking, is there a parking space deeded to your unit (so when you resell, it goes with your unit), or is it a leased space, or is it one of those new mechanical spaces and who knows how the developer set this up for communal use? Would you want the opportunity to buy an extra parking space with your unit? Common area uses (like rooftop decks, or pools, or courtyards and party cabanas) - are they restrictive? Do the HOA's get specific with those uses or do they seem to be loose? Which would you personally favor? There are quite a bit of variables associated with looking into the purchase of a condo, whether here in SF or anywhere else. Contact a good agent who seems to have experience with such variables.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 18, 2009
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