Im a buyer from out of state, have made 3 weekend trips to SF (trips are not getting any cheaper) hoping to

Asked by Jessy, denver, c0 Sat Apr 26, 2008

close a deal. I have been very diligent in doing my research over the internet and feed the info/mls #s to my realtor (should it be the other way around?). I feel that i am one step ahead of her. I am now considering properties that are in foreclosure. How long does it take to get info on these properties? I understand that buying a property via remote control is not the norm, however this can be done. Does it matter if a Realtor specializes in residential houses instead of condos?
My Realtor is a very nice lady and i also have my needs to take care of. This can be a win-win. How?

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Rebecca White, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Sat Apr 26, 2008
Hi Jessy,

First of all, welcome to San Francisco! This is truly one of the world's greatest cities and I hope that you will enjoy making your home here as much as I have.

To answer your first question, who gives whom what can go both ways. Ideally your Realtor gives you tons of data/listings and then you tell her what you want to look at. Some buyers (like yourself) are more proactive than others and some like to switch their search parameters and agents may or may not be able to keep up.

In the SF MLS, we have a new (since last fall) client portal feature that allows you access to your "folder" and you and your agent can communicate via comments made about each listing. Has your agent sent a client portal invitation to you?

Another excellent way to be proactive is if your agent subscribes to This allows you control over your searches and is more user-friendly than the MLS. In this instance, it is perfectly natural for you to be sending MLS #'s to your agent as you might be looking at properties that she didn't set up a search for on your behalf.

Most agents whom I know do both condos and houses. Some might only do new condos and some may specialize in TICs. None of these are so difficult that one can't learn or get assistance from a colleague.

I would recommend that if you want to buy a foreclosure, you spend more time and look at it inside and out. As Jed said, there are very few in San Francisco and most aren't in what many would consider "desirable" areas (close-in, appreciating, etc.). There are over 100 short sales or pre-forclosure properties currently in San Francisco and these tend to be 5-10% below the "normal market value"--or should be. The important issue here is to deal with an agent familiar with putting together a short sale package and it is more the listing agent's responsiblity so presumably, s/he would know how to do so. As less than 2% of agents are "short sale savvy" as they require more work and don't always pay as much, most agents shy away from or refuse to deal with short sales.

If you are serious about a pre-foreclosure property, mention this to your agent in your heart-to-heart, and if she is neither familiar nor comfortable with this type of listing, perhaps she could refer you to someone who is so she would at least get something for the time that she has spent with you.

My last two questions to you would be: 1) are you pre-approved with a local lender? By doing this step, you are definitely demonstrating that you are able to buy. Then it comes down to being ready and willing. Frequently in SF, you need to make a decision about making an offer on a property within 24-48 hours after seeing it and be prepared to be one of many bids, face rejection and maybe even over-bid. Good properties that are in decent condition, location and well-priced go fast. (I showed a property last Sunday that got 7 pre-emptive offers and went 20% over the day after the first Open House!) So last question 2) are you ready and willing to move quickly if you see the right property?

Your agent didn't get to be in the top 1% by not doing things right. Yes, you need to ask her some questions but ask yourself a few too.

That said--Good Luck!!!
1 vote
Peter Brunton, , San Francisco, CA
Wed Apr 30, 2008
Hi Jessy,

I wouldn't say that you need someone who specializes in either single family or condos, but you do need someone who is actively practicing and putting in offers. Internet data and facts are great for research, but it doesn't give you answers about how the price is different between one block to the next. For example, below you said that you are looking in both 94105 and 94107. In Mission Bay and SOMA there are tons of new construction that look great, but all the buildings have different feautures that are going to make them more or less desirable resales.

I would say that you need to come out to SF one weekend and have a realtor spend the entire weekend taking you to properties. We all have lockbox keys and with creative scheduling you should be able to see 14-18 properties.

As for foreclosures, I would highly recommend reo's. These bank owned properties might not have all the disclosures you are looking for, but they are ready to go and you can move on them quick. Foreclosures and short sales can be a timely process and are not quite as common in the neighborhoods you have been looking at as one might think.

Feel free to shoot me an email at if you have any questions.
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0 votes
Jessy, Home Buyer, denver, c0
Sat Apr 26, 2008
I sincerely appreciate all of you for your time and giving me all your feedback. Thank you.
To further clarify:
1. YES i am a serious AND motivated buyer. If i can close in 2 weeks that would be great. The sooner the closing the better.
2. My Realtor is TOP 1% in the nation- and she is also a very nice lady, as ive already mentioned :) I am going to have a come-to-jesus conversation with her tomorrow and let her know what my concerns and ask her outrightly if she is too busy to take care of my needs. Her success is my success.
3. I have toured the city and been in showings on 3 weekends and I am set on 94105 and MAYBE 94107, depends on the street; ive seen properties along streets that cross 6th and im not exactly excited about that area.
4. If nothing pans out in the next 2 weeks I am planning to take another trip to SF and hopefully, i find THE one!
5. Even though I am excited to close soon, I am patient enough to wait for REO or foreclosures. like one of you mentioned, can be as long as five weeks.
6. I have spoken to a lot of people (hotel, cabs, restaurants, bars) - im that friendly :) and they all recommended realtors or some of the people i have spoken with are realtors. I have to admit, its very overwhelming. Yet i just need to shift my thinking. What im doing is just a process that i need to go through :) nothing more nothing less. In the process, even in this Q & A i have learned so much and I keep my self open to any possibilities or even a new realtor.
Thank you all once again and based on the additional information, as above, please keep those feedbacks / inputs coming.I look forward to it. And who knows, I might be working with one of you soon...
0 votes
Jed Lane, Agent, Petaluma, CA
Sat Apr 26, 2008
In fact your realtor should be feeding you data. If you've toured properties with her she should have a very good idea of what you like and are looking for.
It is possible to buy property from a distance but I wouldn't recommend it unless you have allot of experience purchasing property or trust your agent completely.
Foreclosures and properties that have notices of default, I think would be more problematic to buy from a distance. Quite often the notice of default is incorrect or is cured and properties that have been foreclosed upon can be in pretty rough shape. Both of these types of purchases take a much longer time to negotiate and get closed also. Not impossible but a little more difficult.
In your post you didn’t specify if you were looking to buy in San Francisco or in the surrounding area. I mention that only because the City hasn’t had as many foreclosures as other counties in the Bay Area.
I will also agree with the others that “nice” should not be the full criteria for who you work with. Your agent needs to be your agent. As an agent we have a fiduciary responsibility to our clients of the highest order.
You’ve expressed dissatisfaction with your agent to us. You need to express your observations, feelings, needs, disappointments to her. Let her know that you need a higher level of service from her and ask if she can deliver. Be prepared to fire any service provider that doesn’t measure up to your needs. But first take the opportunity to tell them what is wrong and give them a chance to improve.
You wouldn’t work with an attorney or a CPA just because they were nice. Competence is much more important.
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Doug Devine, , Daly City, CA
Sat Apr 26, 2008
Hi Jessy,
Were you assigned a realtor by a relocation company? If so, you may want to go back to them and ask for someone else, or better yet, request someone that has impressed you along the way. In today's world, there's a lot of information available to the internet. However, when you first met your realtor and (hopefully) toured a few properties together, they should have a handle on what you're looking for and be a valuable resource to you (not just be "nice"). Like the other local SF realtors that have responded, feel free to contact me if I can be of assistance.
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0 votes
Sally Rosenm…, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Sat Apr 26, 2008
Dear Jessy,

I agree with both remarks below. You need someone who is in touch with your needs, the marketplace, and understands foreclosures. A list comes out every week of foreclosures, trust sales etc. giving contact information and dates of upcoming sales. I am surprised your agent does not send you this weekly. Does your agent not think you are a serious Buyer and that is why she/he is unresponsive?

Your agent can also plug you into the Multiple Listing Service as a contact and set you up to receive every single property within your parameters the day it is entered into the system at the same time your agent sees it. If your agent specializes in houses, he/she should still be able to give you information on condos as well and can ask fellow agents for assistance if needed. We all help each other in my office.

I hope that helps. Good luck!


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Charles Coac…, , San Jose, CA
Sat Apr 26, 2008
The first thing that most agents would do is find out what your needs are and you can certainly do a majority of your work over the internet. With the costs associated with flying to San Francisco, you must make the best use of your time once you get here. There is a lot of information that the agent should gather before beginning the search. What is bringing you to the Bay Area? How soon do you want find a home? Is it San Francisco where you want to live or some other city in the Bay Area? Are you looking for a condominium or a single family home (SFH)? What is the price range that you would be comfortable with? How much of your own money would you be using for your purchase? Have you been in contact with a lender and have you been preapproved for a loan? This just a sampling of the questions that should be asked.
This is the age of the internet and you can certainly do some of the leg work, but once your agent has been given your needs they should get to work. Whether you are looking for condo or a SFH, your realtor should be able to help you. Our main concern with condos is the HOA's & CC&R's, most complexes have their information on the internet and you can read their Association meeting minutes and newletters online. This can give you some very good information about the complex, but your agent will need to find out if the HOA is in good standing and if they are operating in the black or if there is an assessment coming up in the near future.
Once you have established your needs your agent should be able to find you a suitable property, but when a new need arises it can change the entire picture and your search can take a you in a completely different direction. When you said that you were now considering foreclosure properties, I am thinking that short sales or bank owned properties (REO's) were not part of your original plans. Short sales can take a long time (we are advising our clients to plan on a min. of 5 weeks) to get an offer accepted, but REO's can take a much shorter period of time to get seller approval.
I hope that this answers most of your questions. If I can be of more assistance, please don't hesitate to contact me.
Happy House Hunting and Welcome to The Bay Area!

Charles Coachman
Keller Williams Realty
San Jose, CA
0 votes
Dan Therrell, , 36532
Sat Apr 26, 2008
Having been involved with friends in SF who purchased multiple properties in the city, you need a specialist in the type properties that you're looking for. The market is too dynamic for anyone who does not specialize.

And if you are one step ahead of your agent, get one that will stay one step ahead of you! The agent will be paid extremely well to do the work required. Sorry, but being "nice" is not enough of a recommendation.

If you need a referral to a SF agent, email me.

All the bst,

Dan Therrell
Fairhope, AL
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