Your property search
We work hard to help you streamline your property search. We start with a buyer’s interview that asks several questions to help us understand your needs, wants and goals in finding the ideal property.
How we can help you with your search?
With Natalie & Derek, you have a team of experienced agents assisting you with your search. We have several channels through which to ensure you have the latest information about new properties coming on the market:
Top Agent Network: As members of the San Francisco Agent Network (a list of the top 100 agents in the city), we have access to the most prestigious agents in the Bay Area as well as exclusive information about listings before they come on the market.
Open House: We send our buyers a customized list of properties to see at your convenience or during set open house dates.
Broker’s Tour: Broker’s Tour is an opportunity for every agent to show and see the latest properties on the market. We go on tour religiously every Tuesday (and Wednesdays in select districts). The tour is organized by neighborhood, starting at 9am in District 8 and ending at 4pm in District 9. We spend the day looking at properties—and specifically looking at those that meet the needs of our current buyer clients—or at comps for our sellers. This important process gives us insight into the market and also allows us to see properties before their first open house.
Compass Client Portal /Collections: The Compass Client Portal (Compass Collections) allows us to input your desired search parameters and then notifies you when new properties meeting these parameters come on the market. You can save them as favorites into a Collection with your agent.
Specialized Tours: We will arrange for individualized tours or showings based on your availability. We will accompany you to the selected properties and assist with all scheduling needs.
Making the offer
Q: What is a good offer?
A: A good offer depends on multiple factors: the market, the neighborhood, the competition and the list price. It is your agent’s job to provide you with the best information on these factors to help you make a decision. Is the list price low or high compared to the market? Is your offer the only one on the table, or are there several you are up against? Are properties in general selling above or below asking in the neighborhood?
Q: How do you win in a multiple bid situation?
A: Primarily by understanding the strategy and motivation of the sellers. It is important to know how many other offers are on the table, the state of the market, and the goals of the seller. An offer is more than a purchase price – a good offer is drafted carefully with overall terms that will appeal to the seller.
Q: Is it beneficial to provide a personal letter or enclose photos, etc. with the offer?
A: Absolutely. Sellers like to know to whom they are selling. Whether you are buying from a developer or investment seller, a good solid o er package with a personalized cover letter shows that you are serious and passionate.
Q: How long will it take for me to hear if I/we got it?
A: We generally give 24 hours for the seller to respond. In some cases the seller requests more time, but usually no more than a couple days. In the case of a short sale or REO, it can take weeks or months to hear back from the bank.
Q: What is the counter offer? How does it work?
A: When you submit an offer, the seller has four choices:
- They can ACCEPT it as is, and you are ratified—no one else can write an offer on the property and you are “in contract” to buy it.
- They can REJECT it.
- They can offer you a “BACK-UP” position—in the case that they have accepted another offer similar to yours, this will put you in first position to ratify if the first offer cancels or falls through.
- They can COUNTER your offer. They can counter you on the purchase price, the length of escrow, contingency periods, or any other terms. Once you receive their counter you can then 1) Accept 2) Reject or 3) Counter their counter. This can go back and forth many times until both sides come to an agreement. As soon as one party agrees to the other’s counter, you are ratified.
Q: What is a Multiple Counter Offer?
A: If a seller receives more than one offer, they can counter all of them or a select few. In this scenario, the offer is not ratified when you respond to their counter. The seller has the final say, therefore you are not ratified until the seller accepts your count
In San Francisco, it’s typical for the listing agent to provide a general disclosure package to all serious buyers. This is your opportunity to review general information about the property prior to writing an offer. It is required that the sellers and agent disclose everything they know about the property and that you are aware of anything that might affect your decision to purchase the property. We will help you navigate all of the complexities of reviewing disclosures.
Escrow: What is it?
Escrow is the period of time between your o er being accepted and closing escrow. Escrow is a deposit of funds, a deed or other instrument by one party for the delivery to another party upon completion of a particular condition or event. The California Escrow Law : Section 17003 of the Financial Code provides the legal definition.
Why Do I Need an Escrow?
Whether you are the buyer, seller, lender or borrower, you want assurance that no funds or property will change hands until ALL of the instructions in the transaction have been followed. The escrow holder has the obligation to safeguard the funds and/or documents while they are in the possession of the escrow holder, and to disburse funds and/or convey title only when all provisions of the escrow have been complied with. The escrow officer is a neutral third party and does not represent any one party.
How Does Escrow Work?
The principals to the escrow—buyer, seller, lender, agents—cause escrow instructions, most usually in writing, to be created, signed and delivered to the escrow officer. If a broker is involved, he will normally provide the escrow officer with the information necessary for the preparation of your escrow instructions and documents. The escrow officer will process the escrow, in accordance with the escrow instructions, and when all conditions required in the escrow can be met or achieved, the escrow will be “closed.” The duties of an escrow holder include: following the instructions given by the principals and parties to the transaction in a timely manner; handling the funds and/or documents in accordance with the instruction; paying all bills as authorized; responding to authorized requests from the principals; closing the escrow only when all terms funds in accordance with instructions and provide an accounting for same : the Closing or Settlement Statement. The escrow officer can ONLY take instructions from all parties in agreement. No one party in the trans- action can soley give instructions. The escrow officer does not represent any one party—they are a neutral 3rd party in the transaction.
How Long Does Escrow Last?
This is determined on a case by case basis and will be written into the offer. Generally 21-40 days is common. However, in some cases, you (or the
seller) may need more time. In some cases, it is shorter, for example with an all cash deal.
Who Chooses the Escrow?
In San Francisco, it is usually the buyer’s choice, as the buyer pays the escrow fees. The selection of the escrow holder is normally done by agreement between the principals. If a real estate broker is involved in the transaction, the broker may recommend an escrow holder. However, it is the right of the principals to use an escrow holder who is competent and who is experienced in handling the type of escrow at hand. There are laws that prohibit the payment of referral fees; this affords the consumer the best possible escrow services without any compromise caused by a person receiving a referral fee.
What Happens During Escrow?
The escrow period gives all parties involved the time needed to comply with the terms of the offer and prepare to transfer title from the seller to the buyer. During this period, you do several things, all of which your agent will help you with:
1) You put down a deposit of 3% of the purchase price which is held by the title company
2) The lender orders an appraisal for the property
3) You do your due diligence on the property, and remove your contingencies by the deadlines you requested in your offer
4) Your lender processes your loan and will ask you for various information needed to qualify you
5) You prepare to transfer down payment funds
6) You sign all loan and title documents when they are ready
7) You have any inspections you wrote into your o er done
8) You review and sign disclosures
9) Closing happens a couple days after you sign documents
Are You Interested in Types of Ownership/Vesting? Click to Download
The Flow of a Real Estate Transaction
Financing Your Purchase
Why get pre-approved: Pre-approval is different from pre-qualifying, as it is a full loan approval instead of an opinion letter. It is recommended to get pre-approval before looking at homes. Finding out what you qualify for will help you look in the right price range.
Determining How Much You Can Afford: The lender will determine your purchasing power, which gives you a guideline as to what you can afford before you start looking. They will show you a variety of different types of financing(30 year fixed, buy-down loans, adjustable, special first-time buyer programs, etc.), and will determine how much you qualify for with each type. Based on your desired payment level and type of nuancing with which you feel comfortable, we can determine your purchasing power.
Know What Your Down Payment Will Be and Provide Financing Options: You need to choose a home based on how much money you have available. Based on the funds you have available, the lender will design a loan that will work for your individual situation.
Know What Your Monthly Payments Will Be: Before picking a price range, you should make sure that you can handle your total monthly payment: Principle, Taxes, Interest, Insurance (and Mortgage Insurance, if necessary).
Turns You Into a Cash Buyer: In today’s market, buyers are not the only parties concerned about financing. Sellers are equally concerned. In cases where there are multiple offers for homes, the buyers must put themselves in the best possible position to have their offers accepted. Getting pre-approved also puts the buyer into a better negotiating position, as the Seller knows the buyer is ready, willing and able to buy, and that financing is not in question. Buyers who are not pre-approved have less chance of obtaining an accepted offer on the house they wish to buy.
7 Things You Should NOT Do When Applying for a Home Loan
Below is a list of things to steer clear of when seeking to obtain financing for a home. The following items may be detrimental when trying to move forward with the loan process.
DON’T buy or lease an auto before you apply for a home loan Lenders look carefully at your debt-to-income ratio. A large payment such as a car lease or purchase can greatly impact those ratios and prevent you from qualifying for a home loan.
DON’T move assets from one bank account to another
These transfers show up as new deposits and complicate the application process, as you must then disclose and document the source of funds for each new account. The lender can verify each account as it currently exists. You can consolidate your accounts later if you need to.
DON’T change jobs
A new job may involve a probation period, which must be satis ed before income from the new job can be considered for qualifying purposes.
DON’T buy new furniture or major appliances for your new home If the new purchases increase the amount of debt you are responsible for, there is the possibility this may disqualify you from getting the loan, or cut down on the available funds you need to meet the closing costs.
DON’T run a TRW report on yourself
This will show as an inquiry on your lender’s credit report. Inquiries must be explained in writing.
DON’T attempt to consolidate bills before speaking with your lender The lender can advise you if this needs to be done.
DON’T pack or ship information needed for the loan application Important paperwork such as W-2 forms, divorce decrees, and tax returns should not be sent with your household goods. Duplicate copies take weeks to obtain, and could stall the closing date on your transaction.
It is important that credit has been established with a good payment history. Any derogatory credit must have a good explanation. Outstanding collection accounts, judgments, or liens must be paid through escrow. The credit report will also list a credit score – a mathematical calculation of your overall credit rating.
A consistent job history with the same company is ideal; however if changes have been made for advancement, it is acceptable. Schooling completed in preparation for a speci c vocation is considered to be a part of your
Income and Ratios
Your gross monthly income (before taxes) is computed. Bonuses, overtime, part-time, or self-employment income likely to continue and is averaged over the last two years. The principal, interest, taxes, and insurance (PITI) on the new loan (plus mortgage insurance, if applicable) is divided by the gross monthly income to get the “top” ratio. P.I.T.I and all debts are divided by the income to get the “bottom” ratio. Ratios are ideally 33 over 38 for an 80% loan and lower for a 90% , 95% or 97% loan. If other components are strong, higher ratios may be permitted.
(PITI / Gross Monthly income = Top Ratio) (Total Debt / Gross Monthly income = Bottom Ratio)
Down Payment, Closing Costs and Cash Reserves
To be considered, your funds must have been verified as having been yours for 3 months. A 5% minimum down payment MUST be from your own funds; however, the remainder of the down payment, closing costs, and the 2 to 3 months of reserves may be gifted by a relative who provides a letter and bank statement showing the ability to give.
The property is the security for the loan. The lender will require an appraisal by a certified fee appraiser to assure that there is sufficient collateral. The underwriter will review the appraisal to verify the marketability, condition, and value of your home. The lender will also review the title report and require title insurance on the property for your protection as well as theirs.
Components of a Mortgage | P.I.T.I. (Principle, Interest, Taxes and Insurance)
Insurance: Homeowner’s Insurance, Mortgage Insurance, Homeowner’s Dues.
Formula for Property Taxes in San Francisco: Purchase price x 1.144% / 12 months = Monthly Property Taxes
Formula for Home Owners Insurance: Loan Amount x 0.35% / 12 months = Monthly Home Owners Insurance
How Do Lenders Qualify Borrowers?
Property Tax Guide
Resources for Buyers
- 10 Factors Behind the San Francisco Real Estate Market
- 9 Reasons To Buy A House Now
- Advantages of a Dedicated Buyer Agent
- Buyer’s Book – View & Download Our Comprehensive Guide
- Buyer and Seller Closing Costs in SF
- Buyers Generally Pay…
- Characteristics of a Good Real Estate Agent
- Condo Conversion in San Francisco
- Common Mistakes Buyers Make in Multiple-Offer Situations
- Everything Within Walking Distance of Home
- Glossary of Real Estate Terms
- Holding Title to your SF Home
- Home Buying Process
- Home Buying Process in Detail
- Home Inspections
- How Do Property Taxes Work?
- Inspections and Home Warranties
- Interviewing a Real Estate Agent
- Landlord Tenant Issues In San Francisco
- Moving Checklist
- Obtaining a Loan
- Planning Department Overview on the Permit Process
- Planning: Know Before You Buy
- Property Taxes
- Real Estate Negotiation Tips
- Red Flags in Preliminary Title Reports
- SF Public & Private Schools
- San Francisco Rent Board
- San Francisco School Parents Group
- School Academic Ratings
- Searching for Your New Home
- SF Public Schools Map
- SF Unified School District
- Steps to Obtaining a Home Loan
- Tenant Evictions in San Francisco
- Tenancy in Common in San Francisco
- The Home Search
- Ways to Hold Title to Property
- What is Escrow?
- What is Title Insurance?
- When Is the Time to Buy?