I hate to use this forum to advertise myself, but I actually specialize in working with first time homebuyers like yourself. I understand that it can be a very stressful process and I'm here to make it easier for you. I think that your best bet is Daly City.......especially "original Daly City". In fact, there are a couple of 2bd/1Ba homes right now that are in the 425k range. Furthermore, there are a lot or reo's coming onto the market in the 500k range. Although it seems out of your price range, if you look at the sales history some of these properties have been selling for 30-40k below their final asking prices. If you have any questions please feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
I have to respectfully disagree with Michael (so sorry, Michael); Novato, the northmost part of the Marvellous Marin, which used to seem to be so distant, is now very 'barely' affordable, and yes, even reachable for a price range maxes out at $450K.
Not saying that you have a lot of choices, to be honest, but we have a few, and just north of us, Petaluma, has a bunch; and my feeling is that you will see a few more within the 6 months time frame you are looking at - although you'd find more 3/1 or 3//2s rather than 2/2.
Of course, where Michael is, an equally wonderful (but in a different way than Marin) Sonoma, will have a lot more houses within your price range,but if you need to commute to S.F., you will need to consider the distance.
I don't specialize in first time home buyers, but my first time home buyers are treated just as my million dollar buyers and I am proud of going above and beyond ot help them find a home.
Is school an important factor here; how about commute? Jobs? etc
Check on a few links on my site for Marin towns.
Maybe I should ask this differently, do any of the readers out there know of an agent who **specializes** in first time homebuyers?
While some may view buying/selling homes as transactional and a one-off, ideally I'd like to forge a Realtor relationship with someone early on who will take me seriously as a first-time homebuyer, help out when I go to sell my starter home 5-7 years down the line, and help upgrade into a "real" non-starter house.
My findings so far are simply being blown off and I've mostly been using redfin for sourcing, price points, price changes, previous sales prices, and days on market. While it's a great tool, when it comes time to actually buying I'd prefer to have someone with local expertise who will negotiate with my interests in mind.
Any readers out there who have glowing recommendations to give?
Thanks to all!!
I have an agent in my office that specializes in that area, Peter Brunton. email@example.com feel free to contact him directly if you'd like.
Although you might get call/emails from realtors at these websites, it does offer great search functionality.
If you are open to the East Bay, check out http://www.MyHousingGuide.com I'm the founder and would be happy to help and advise you.
Shame on any realtor who does not want to work with you. Looking outside of San Francisco is the best as you will not find a two bedroom home in SF anywhere --(condos always have HOA dues.) I can recommend the name of an agent who lives in San Mateo county and can work with you.
I do, however, think you will not find a home for $450,000 -- a condo yes, a single family home, no. But I do not know the areas in which you are looking... Call Carol Bullock at Cashin & Co, 650-403-6203. She will help you.