I live in Spain and I would like to buy a house in San Francisco Castro area. Can somebody give me advice?

Asked by Oriol, Sat Mar 29, 2008

about the legal requirements? Thanks

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Jed Lane’s answer
Jed Lane, Agent, Petaluma, CA
Sat Mar 29, 2008
Khazeem,
I'm sorry to have not typed your name correctly.
When you wrote "Agents are not attorneys, they are more like "sales persons" " that comment showed your thinking of the status of agents. I disagree and I don't run my practice that way.

In you next post you state "I guess Jed knows this guys situation through and through. I guess Jed already knows if Oriol is a foreign national, a U.S. citizen living abroad, his "green card" status, etc., and all the procedures concerning his particular situation, what ever it is, because Oriol did not say" why would any of that matter especially at this point, in this forum?

The information I posted gives Oriol access to the tools to be able to look at properties without any framing.
When I was discribing my philosophy of the TIC I was not pitching anything other than that, a philosophy of how we should prepare ourselves, surrounding ouselves with other excelent professionals and always gving the principle the options and all the information. Not as you stated "they are more like "sales persons" which can only mean that the agent has an agenda and wants to sell something.
Again my apologies that I didin't type your name in correctly.
3 votes
Jed Lane, Agent, Petaluma, CA
Sat Mar 29, 2008
Interesting responses from everyone. I'm tired of seeing everyone say "contact me". Let's give answers to the questions!
If you want to purchase in San Francisco you really need to work with an agent that is local. Many areas of San Francisco are still generating multiple offers for well priced properties and knowing the local market is very important indeed.
If you are just starting to look you can access our MLS from anywhere http://www.sfarmls.com/ The Castro isn't actually a neighborhood so you would want to look at district 5 and then Eureka Valley, Duboce Triangle, Mission Dolores. You can check areas with this map http://www.sfarmls.com/docs/areamaps.htm
It is interactive so click on district 5 and then you will see what else is in the vicintiy and also what is adjacent.
In response to two previous posters HI clearly doesn't know what is going on in SF and Kazem needs to learn what a Realtor actually does for their clients. We are not attornies but we are familiar with all aspects of property ownership and purchase legailities. We can and will refer you to an attorney if the situation warrants. I believe in the Totally Informed Client (TIC) method of agency. You can count on the fact that I will answer your questions with knowledgable information and options so you can decide. I do not "sell" you on a choice. If I don't know the answer to your question we will find out together probably throught the existing network of professionals I associate with.
Web Reference:  http://www.jedlane.com
3 votes
SFisHome.com, , San Francisco, CA
Sat Mar 29, 2008
Most property purchases in San Francsico are done without hiring or consulting an attorney. We all use the same standard "form" contract that is easy to understand and use, and a 3rd party Title & Escrow company is hired to handle the finer points of the transaction AFTER the property is put into contract by the Buyer, Seller and most often each with their own local Realtor.

Most everyone simply hires a local Realtor... and I completely agree with Jed that local knowledge is critical... especially in San Francisco where properties are rarely uniform in the way that a suburban neighborhood's homes often are, and where one block here can be dramatically different than the next.

As far as the Castro is concerned, what I believe Jed means to say is that the local Realtor Association doesn't call the Castro "the Castro". If you use the SFAR's MLS enter the number 5 in the "District" section, and the letter K in the sub-district section. "5K" is "Eureka Valley/Dolores Heights" which is more or less the Castro as Jed correctly points out. However, you may want to include 5J which is Duboce Triangle, 5G for Corona Heights and 5M for Mission Dolores. These 3 neighborhoods more or less surround the Castro in very, very close proximity. 5C and 5F for Noe Valley and Buena Vista Park would be my next suggestions for an expanded search, but entering 5 and then K, G, J, M will yield many great properties in your desired area.

Another option for finding homes is http://www.automated-homefinder.com which spells out each of the above neighborhoods without resorting to the number and letter mechanism. Finally, for what I believe is the best Search solution and also doesn't require you to know the # and letter of each area, visit my site below and click on the "Search for Homes" link. From there pick the first option and sign yourself up on CleanOffer which is superior yet again to automated-homefinder because it will allow you to do live searches, and set up email alerts.

By the way, I recently helped a British citizen buy a property here in San Francisco, and the only challenge was the overseas back and forth of the standard paper work, and their need to use an American notary by visiting the American consulate. If you're here in town for the purchase, you would just visit a local Title & Escrow firm like everyone else. But my Buyer never even came to town once, relying on a local friend's advice on which property to buy, and doing all of the signing from overseas. The buyer happened to be a British attorney, but frankly that only seemed to confuse matters because he was upset that an American notary should be required. No other attorney was consulted by any party in that transaction... hence my first point above. So legal advice... contact an attorney... to purchase a property... find one first using one of the sites mentioned here, and hire a local Realtor such as myself or the other's here, and get help with the purchase contract.
Web Reference:  http://www.SFisHome.com
2 votes
Astrid Lacit…, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Sun Nov 27, 2011
Oriol,

El barrio Castro es bastante caro. La mejor cosa que te puedo aconsenjer es que hables primero con un bancario, porque si tienes que conseguir un prestamo eso talvez sera la parte mas complicada, especialmente si tu plan es quedarte en la Espana y venir aqui de vez en cuando.

Pero, si tienes algunos $800,000+ US en efectivo, entonces el bancario sera superfluo.
Astrid Lacitis
Keynote Properties
415 860 0765
1 vote
Khazeem Asad…, , Dallas, TX
Sat Mar 29, 2008
I agree with you on this one Jed. Your information was good and sound. And to some degree I believe it was useful. I just think he should consult an attorney if he has legal questions. Thats just my take.

As for my language used in regards to "agents"..... if it is wrong then that's on the profession, not me. In some jurisdictions a real estate agent is still called a "real estate salesperson" or "sales agent". Google it! This is their official description. I don't make this stuff up, it is what it is. As a friend of mine would say.... "if it's a lie, it's a lie they told". Therefore, I did not mean to belittle or insult agents, I just called them what they are. After all, this is how they get paid. If they don't sell they don't eat (even if they are working with a buyer, they are still aiding the sale of a property).

However, your character has been proven to be good. Your response to misspelling my name says a lot about you as a man. And I hope Oriol take the good from this little debate because good points were made on both ends. And I hope Oriol recognizes your character and take that into consideration when or if he decides to hire the services of Realtors, agents, etc. in your area. Good luck with your business.

Khazeem Asadullah
1 vote
Mario Pinedo,…, Agent, Cupertino, CA
Sat Mar 29, 2008
Oriol,
I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and bought a piso in Sitges. I know how this process may seem difficult. The reality is, it is not. San Francisco proper is not hurting. Actually it is an area that is well supported in price by foreign buyers - and with the Euro so strong... This relatively soft market plus the great exchange rate you benefit from is an ideal time to buy. I bought when the Euro was $.85 - that was good timing too!
1 vote
Sally Rosenm…, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Sat Mar 29, 2008
Hi Oriol,

Anyone can buy property in San Francisco. You need to hook up with a realtor who can talk to you about the legal requirements. I have a First Time Buyers booklet I would be happy to send you which talks about the whole buying process from start to look to unpacking your belongings.

As others have mentioned, you need to speak with a mortgage broker unless you are paying all cash. Assuming you are getting a loan, would you need someone bi-lingual? Unless your English is terrific, it is probably better to have a mortgage broker who speaks Spanish fluently. We can give you names for those people.

This would probably be helpful for you when talking over all the paperwork required for a purchase contract. I do not speak Spanish but I can refer you to an honest agent who is knowledgeable and A Top Producer at Hill & Co., a prestigious real estate company in the business for 50 years and with 3 offices in San Francisco.

Lastly, how familiar are you with the City. I see you want to buy in the Castro area. Do you know what the emcompasses? Perhaps you are also thinking of Eureka Valley or Mission Dolores or Noe Valley. You can see a map and information on the various districts of the City by going to http://www.sallyrosenman.com. You can also check out what is for sale on my site as well by logging on to the MLS.

Please let me know if you wish to me refer an Agent fluent in Spanish and/or a mortgager broker as well. They can email things to you and then call to discuss them further. You should really try to come over and have them give you a tour of properties..... If not possible, you can tour via the net as most agents take photos of their listings these days.

Good luck!
Sally
Web Reference:  http://www.sallyrosenman.com
1 vote
Hi, , Virginia
Sat Mar 29, 2008
San Francisco is not immune to the price declines
in the usa avg price drop for 2007 was 10.8%
some parts of CA are declining $2,800 per week
I am not a realtor
nothing lost or gained for me
i am just looking in VA
i wait
real estate is not a good investment right now
maybe it gets better soon
not sure

anyways

good luck
1 vote
Deborah Madey, Agent, Brick, NJ
Sat Mar 29, 2008
Hi again Oriol,

I just read the post from "Hi" in Virginia. This poster writes the same 100x a week for any and all areas of the US. I don't know what or why this person is knowledgeable about San Francisco markets. I suggest that you get info from sources that can validate their positions w/ facts and data. I am unable to speak to the specific market conditions in SF, and post here not to inform you it is trending up, down, or stable. Someone who works that market has access to data to support what they say. When anyone tells you the market condidtion, ask them to explain their basis.

Best of luck to you.

Deborah Madey - Licensed Real Estate Broker
Peninsula Realty Group - New Jersey
1 vote
Deborah Madey, Agent, Brick, NJ
Sat Mar 29, 2008
HI Oriol,

If you are at your preliminary search stage of finding a property, you probably need to just contact an Realtor who has knowledge and experience in international transactions. I am a member of such specialty organization, I have completed several international transactions, have attended international sales conferences for real estate in Europe, and my background prior to real estate was in international sales and marketing. I, however, am not a licensed Realtor in CA, and cannot extend direct help to you. I am sure you can find a Realtor to help you if your search here:

http://www.realtor.org/intl_membrshp.nsf/web+view/$SearchFor…

There may come a time when you have specific legal questions that are beyond the scope of a real estate licensee, and your agent can refer you to an attorney that can assist you. Many of the basic procedures in place for international transactions can be explained to you by a Realtors with experience in that area.

As real estate licensees, we are not attorneys, and most of us are even "over cautious" to refer to an attorney when we think it approaches a situaiton or question beyond our capability. I suggest you start with a Realtor who can explain the basics, help with property searches, and provide you referrals to attorneys with expertise in this area for the time when you will need legal counsel.

Although I am not attending this year, the SIMA expo is coming up very soon.....and it is in Spain. If you are near Madrid, it runs April 8-12. Many of the US Realtors who attend stay for a time after the official show concludes. There will be booths there with US properties for sale. While stopping at those booths might give you a few brochures....here's my recommendation if you can go.

See if you can ask the National Association of Realtor office to connect you with any attendees from the San Fancisco area. If you email or call the NAR office which coordinates the US Realtor attendees, ask for attendees from San Francisco. At SIMA (I am not going this year...I have previously attended)....there is a large pavillion w/ US representatives. You could arrange to meet any San Francisco attendees at that pavillion....if you are near or in Madrid during the SIMA show. Here's a contact person in the US who is coordinating the travel and attendance of US Realtors to SIMA:
Elena Carrillo
International Operations Staff
National Association of REALTORS®
430 North Michigan Ave.
Chicago IL 60611
Tel: 312-329-8272
Fax: 312-329-8358
Email: ecarrillo@realtors.org

Here's a link to SIMA
http://www.simaexpo.com/ipp/pages/home/index.php?id=143

If you ever need help in Jersey, let me know! I will answer what I can, and quickly refer you to an attorney who knows real estate and has closed transactions with buyers from abroad.

Best of luck in your search in San Francisco!

Deborah Madey - Real Estate Broker
Peninsula Realty Group - New Jersey
1 vote
Hi, , Virginia
Sat Mar 29, 2008
free advice for you
I am not a realtor
wait
prices are dropping
maybe 2009-2010
then maybe ok to buy

anyways

good luck

buenos dias
1 vote
gabrielle b…, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Tue Jan 31, 2012
Regarding the legal requirements, it is best to consult an attorney. Next, consult with your banker and/or a savvy mortgage professional. - You sound as though you know the Castro district and are probably aware that it is a pricey neighborhood. In order to ascertain what is available within your parameters, it would be excellent to receive a list of properties currently for sale that meet your requirements and budget.

Feel free to call me at 415-200-7202.
0 votes
Tom Flinn, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Mon Jan 9, 2012
Hi I'm a realtor in the Castro, happy to help. Please contact me at TomFlinnRE@gmail.com. Please send me your contact information and we can discuss the whole buying process in as much detail as you'd like. Best, Tom
0 votes
Khazeem Asad…, , Dallas, TX
Sat Mar 29, 2008
Jed Lane, first of all my name is spelled "Khazeem", it is rude to misspell a person's name especially when it is right in your face. Secondly, Realtors and agents are not the same and in my first response I did not mention "Realtors". I know exactly what a Realtor does and know, but what I am not sure about is what this guy really wants. And all I said is that IF he has a true question concerning anything dealing with "laws" he should consult an attorney, and THEN if/and when he needs a Realtor or an agent he should find one. I don't know what was so wrong with my statement. My advice was just as good as any here, especially since it is not actually known what type of "legal" advice he needs.

I guess Jed knows this guys situation through and through. I guess Jed already knows if Oriol is a foreign national, a U.S. citizen living abroad, his "green card" status, etc., and all the procedures concerning his particular situation, what ever it is, because Oriol did not say.

Oriol, my background is in Law, not property law, but civil and criminal law, and my advice is the same, if you have ANY questions concerning "laws" consult with an attorney for YOUR PROTECTION. Because a Realtor or agent is not legal representation or protection if something goes wrong. IF that is what you are seeking. If not, as I said before, then get an agent familiar with that area and use his/her services.

Oh, and Jed, though you didn't use the words "contact me" you pretty much put your marketing pitch out there. Which, to me is cool. This is free marketing,.. in a way. But it is sad that you did the same thing that you criticized but in a different way.

Oriol, good luck.

Khazeem Asadullah
0 votes
Scott Pierce, , San Francisco, CA
Sat Mar 29, 2008
Oriol, a great starting point is to talk to a mortgage broker with experience in working with foreign buyers (like Ye Gong below). After you have the financing issue straightened out, we could all meet or conference call to talk about what you are looking for in a house. We would set you up to receive emails with pictures of all the places that you might like. Then you could come to San Francisco and tour houses that you are interested in and go from there.

Now is a fantastic time to buy. Rates are low and the exchange rate is the best (for you!).

Check out the Photographic Tour of Eureka Valley on my website. Castro is in Eureka Valley for the most part. http://sfcondomap.com/?page_id=22
Web Reference:  http://www.sfcondomap.com
0 votes
Scott Pierce, , San Francisco, CA
Sat Mar 29, 2008
If you do not have a green card, you can still buy a home in the US. Usually you need to put down 30%. You can email me for more information and details. ygong@gmwest.com
Web Reference:  http://www.yeloan.com
0 votes
Oriol, Home Buyer, Barcelona
Sat Mar 29, 2008
Thanks Deborah! Yopur feedback is very useful I agree that specific data is needed to decide any real state investment. Trulias seems to be a good source for that! I have never seen such an amazing web site. I have been looking to zillow ... but I think I prefer Trulia, more user friendly. ;-)
0 votes
Oriol, ,
Sat Mar 29, 2008
Ineteresting ... Thanks to all of you!
So prices are also dropping in San Francisco center? I thougth that maybe in a down town San Francisco or New York area would not be dropping. Which % have already dropped? and how much is expected to dropp down?
Thanks a lot!!!
0 votes
Khazeem Asad…, , Dallas, TX
Sat Mar 29, 2008
If you really have a question about anything concerning "laws", consult with an attorney. I've noticed that on Trulia "get an agent" seem to be the answer for everything, but it is not. Agents are not attorneys, they are more like "sales persons" and there license requirements are minimum. If its legal advice you seek, get an attorney that deals with your particular area of concern.

And when you are ready to actually buy a home, then you may want to get an agent or Broker to help you to pick out homes, areas, etc.

Khazeem Asadullah

email: info@serapisdebtservices.com
0 votes
Laarni G. Om…, , Orange County, CA
Sat Mar 29, 2008
Hi Oriol,

Go to one of the Century21 offices there in Spain and ask that you be referred to a Century21 office in the SF Castro area. Or if you can e-mail me, I would do this for you.
Thanks,
Laarni
0 votes
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