Once you have an idea of what it is you are looking for in a home, it’s time to start viewing available properties. So where to start? Here are a few options to get you started:
- Properties on the market. It starts with the current inventory. This will help you better define your needs, wants and options and to understand market values. When possible, we will preview properties that meet your parameters before showing them to you. Being available to view newly listed homes can be important—since the most appealing and best priced may sell quickly.
- Sunday open homes. Most new homes are shown during weekend open houses. When it is not possible for us to do this together, we can compare notes soon thereafter. Tell agents at the open homes you visit that you are working with an agent; ideally give them your agent’s business card.
- Brokers’ tours. Each Tuesday in San Francisco, new home listings are open to agents and their clients. This is often the first showing of a new listing.
Remember, each time you view a property, evaluate it against your list of needs and wants, and then rate it from 1 to 10 (10 being the perfect home). If you’re willing to do work, consider whether the home can be improved to achieve what you want—by painting, new flooring, remodeling or minor structural alterations.
Once homes and/or neighborhoods have been narrowed down and deemed worthy of further consideration, consider these additional factors:
- Assess locations in greater detail. Measure the commute time – consider driving or using public transport to get a real sense of how long it takes to get to work. Evaluate local schools and the proximity to shopping, dining and other activities that are important to you. Perhaps investigate the Megan’s Law Database and local crime statistics.
- Visit the home during both day and night times to get a better sense of noise levels and light at different times of the day, traffic and parking conditions in the neighborhood, and your comfort level with how safe it feels.
- When determining the size requirements, keep in mind how your need for space may change in the future.
- Evaluate the floor plan against your style of living and how you plan to use the rooms. Consider what you want for entertaining and privacy. How do the outside spaces complement the inside? Think about utility as well as curb appeal and graciousness.
Once you find a property you wish to consider buying:
- Are there recent inspection reports and a disclosure package available for review?
- What is the condition of the plumbing, electrical system and the roof? If these systems are dated, the cost for repair or replacement should be taken into consideration before making an offer.
- Are there any signs of dampness or poor drainage? These conditions are often difficult and expensive to correct.
- If improvements or additions were made, were they done with permit? If not, a home inspector can help you quantify the risks or the costs of remediation.
- For condominiums and TICs, what are the monthly homeowner fees, upcoming assessments, and restrictions regarding pets, working at home and future rental?