Buying In The Bay Area
There really isn’t another place quite like the Bay Area; a diverse mixture of architecture, landscapes, entertainment and cuisine attract people from all over the world. With a wide variety of things to do it’s no wonder there’s such a captivation surrounding the Bay. If you’ve decided to buy in the area you’re going to have to familiarize yourself with some fundamental data and strategies.
First and foremost you mustn’t be naive to the fact that you’re entering one of the most competitive markets in the country. San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Piedmont, San Jose and Palo Alto home sales are going well above asking with multiple offers in a short amount of time. Many buyers don’t grasp this and quickly get discouraged when their offer doesn’t get accepted which is why you need to be realistic with your expectations. Some buyers are fortunate to get what they want after writing offers on one or maybe two properties, but it’s common to have to put offers on several houses before getting the type of property you want.
You’ll have to come up with the most attractive offer you and your bank or loan offer can conjure up. In this market straight cash and contingency removal speaks loud and clear. Cash bypasses financing hold-ups and the removal of contingencies circumvents hurdles to the finish line. If you have these working in your favor you are more likely to beat your competition and shorten your time to close. Closing in two weeks rather than 30 days will put you ahead of other buyers.
If you can’t buy in cash obviously you need to identify ways in which you can be more competitive as well as be open to altering your wish list. There are a lot of other buyers out there that want a 3-bedroom 2-bathroom home with an open floor plan, new kitchen and grassy backyard. If you’re willing to forfeit the 3rd bedroom you were going to use as an office and the updated kitchen for one that needs some modernizing you won’t be getting exactly what you want, but you’ll be better positioned and can adjust the property into your dream home a year or two later. You have to be realistic about what you can afford and what you may have to sacrifice to get in the game.
Keep in mind many buyers prefer looking in the spring and summer seasons because the holidays have passed, the weather is nice and there’s more inventory available. Although there’s less on the market in the fall and winter it may be a better time to search. There’s fewer buyers to compete with, and sellers who are more desperate to close are inclined to accept the offers that come in. Another plus is if it’s cold or raining you will get a firsthand look at how the property responds to poor weather. Check the furnace, see if there’s flooding anywhere and make sure the gutters are draining properly away from the house. Is the property well insulated and is the roof holding up? It may be icky outside, but you will get great insight into what it’s really like to live there year-round.
Buying a home in the Bay Area can be challenging which is why it’s important to be partnered with a real estate agent you enjoy working with and trust as you will be in close contact with them through the property search and closing process. Make sure they have your best interest at heart and are knowledgeable about what it takes to buy in the Bay. If you begin to feel they aren’t a good fit, it could be time to find a new agent.