The Home-Selling Process

Selling residential real estate in the San Francisco Bay Area is a complicated financial transaction involving many important issues: home preparation, pricing and fair market value, comprehensive marketing across a wide variety of media, buyer profile and buyer qualifying, contract negotiation, showing the property, statutory disclosure of the property’s condition and circumstances, buyer due diligence, appraisal and financing and liability management. Doing these things well can make a huge difference in time and money.

Below is a simple graphic that outlines the process, followed by a detailed step by step description from the first consideration of market conditions to having the proceeds of sale wired into your bank account. It’s relatively self-explanatory, but will make even more sense when reviewed with your agent, who can explain the decision points along the way and the strategies and options you will have at each step.


The Home-Selling Process – in Detail
First Steps

  • Agent reviews Seller’s needs, preferences, priorities, timeline and special requirements
  • Agent collects detailed information on the property’s condition and circumstance
  • Agent prepares comparative market analysis assessing current market conditions and comparable sales, pending sales and competitive properties
  • Agent develops marketing plan to maximize buyer and broker response
  • Agent and Seller review the listing, marketing and sales process; how to prepare the property to show to its best advantage; Seller’s relocation needs; and Agency
  • Agent and Seller calculate estimated costs and proceeds of sale
  • Agent and Seller review and sign state Agency Disclosure and listing contract
  • Agent and Seller discuss timeline for preparing, marketing and showing property, protocol for offer presentation and Seller’s preferences for close of escrow
  • Agent and Seller prepare property disclosure package of statutory disclosures, and other pertinent reports and documents

Preparation & Marketing 

  • Agent collects keys, genies, alarm codes, showing instructions; HOA, building manager, condo or tenant information (as applicable)
  • Agent coordinates staging and/or landscaping consultation
  • Agent and Seller develop the property-preparation to-do list
  • Agent begins development of marketing materials: flyers, brochures, direct mail and email pieces, newspaper and magazine advertising, open house advertising, sign, professional photography, Internet marketing, broker to broker marketing, etc.
  • Agent schedules professional photo shoot of the property
  • Agent coordinates pre-sale inspections of property: structural pest control, contractor, energy/water compliance, as appropriate
  • Agent orders statutory 3rd party reports: city/county, natural hazard, etc.
  • Property posted as featured home on Paragon and agent websites
  • Property description, photos, brokers’ tour and Sunday open house entered into MLS
  • Property posted to hundreds of real estate listing websites with multiple photos, extended description and showing information
  • Agent creates property-showcase website with description, photos, slideshow, neighborhood information, financing options, etc.
  • Property is posted to Craig’s List with photos, description and open house dates
  • Agent orders property-purchase loan scenario sheets
  • Agent arranges for catering of first Brokers’ tour and Open House, as appropriate
  • “Just Listed” or Open House invitation cards mailed to surrounding area
  • Agent alerts area brokerages via email announcements of new listing, showcase-website address, broker tour and open house dates
  • Agent finalizes disclosure package of disclosures, reports and other pertinent documents
  • Agent and Seller review market updates—new competitive properties, recent sales, changes in economic conditions—and revise marketing/pricing strategy as appropriate
  • Property preparation to show is completed

Property Showing & Offer Review

  • First brokers’ tour; agent solicits feedback and reports to Seller
  • First open houses; agent solicits feedback and reports to Seller
  • Showings by appointment
  • MLS, websites and advertising revised to reflect next brokers’ tour and open houses
  • Offer(s) received. Agent and Seller review offer(s)—price, terms, contingencies, close of escrow—negotiating strategies and possible counter-offers. Agent negotiates, on Seller’s behalf and instruction, to achieve best possible price and terms

Offer Acceptance, Contingencies of Sale & Close of Escrow

  • Offer is ratified; back-up offer is also ratified, if possible
  • Agent confirms that escrow is opened and Buyer’s initial deposit received
  • Agent prepares Timeline for the Removal of Contingencies and Close of Escrow
  • Agent provides Seller’s loan payoff information to Escrow Agent
  • Property marketing continues until all Buyer contingencies are removed
  • Agent coordinates the delivery of all outstanding statutory disclosures and documents to buyer
  • Agent and Seller review Preliminary Title Report
  • Agent coordinates and attends Buyer property inspections, and supplies Seller with inspection report copies
  • Agent coordinates financing appraisal and monitors Buyer’s loan approval process
  • Agent monitors Buyer’s removal of contingencies item by item as contractually specified: approval of RETDS, other disclosures and reports, inspection contingencies, loan and appraisal contingencies, approval of Preliminary Title Report, etc.
  • As appropriate, Agent counsels Seller and facilitates Seller collection of additional information—contractor quotes, title and permit data, legal advice, etc.—necessary for Seller to understand, quantify and resolve contingency removal or renegotiation issues
  • As necessary, Agent coordinates any statutory compliance or repair work necessary: energy and water conservation compliance, smoke detectors, water heater strapping, etc.
  • Agent represents Seller should Buyer attempt to renegotiate purchase price or terms; Agent coordinates delivery of Seller’s Notice to Perform to Buyer, as necessary
  • Buyer contingencies of sale are removed
  • Agent confirms Buyer’s increase of deposit into escrow, and Receipt for Increased Deposit under Liquidated Damages is completed, if and as contractually required
  • Agent coordinates final Buyer walk-through
  • Agent provides final escrow instructions, and schedules appointment for Seller to sign closing documents; Agent and Seller review Seller’s Estimated Closing Statement
  • Agent and Seller meet at Title company for signing of closing documents
  • Agent confirms with Escrow Agent everything is done for close of escrow: final Buyer monies deposited, funding of Buyer’s loan
  • Seller receives proceeds of sale; Agent coordinates delivery of keys, genies, alarm codes to Buyer’s Agent

The quality of the agent working on your behalf, his or her competence, integrity, work ethic and commitment to your interests can make an enormous difference in the outcome of your home sale—often to the tune of tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Online Resources: All Things San Francisco

Online Resources for San Francisco Home Buyers

Schools & City Services

Legal Resources

About San Francisco

The Home-Buying Process

Buying a home is typically the largest, most complicated, and often most emotional financial transaction of one’s life. There is a lot at stake, not just money but also issues such as security, happiness and everything else wrapped up in the concept of “home.” One of the main reasons why it can be so stressful is that one’s agent never explains how the process actually works step by step, what the decision points will be and the options one has at each step. When one understands the process and has a sense of control over how it will proceed, much of the stress is alleviated.

Below is a simple graphic that generally outlines how one thing leads to another from first beginning the search for a new home to having the keys to the front door put into your hands. It’s relatively self-explanatory, but will make even more sense when reviewed with your agent. Remember that you are the sole decision-maker throughout the process: a good agent renders honest, experienced counsel and helps manage and coordinate everything that needs to happen, always with an eye to protecting your interests, but never presumes to make decisions for his or her client.


The quality of the agent working on your behalf, his or her competence, integrity,
work ethic and commitment to your interests can make an enormous difference
in the outcome of your home purchase.


From our NorCal network : The Artisan Group


516 Sugar Pine Drive
Incline Village, NV 89451
Offered at $1,199,000

For more information about this property or a referral to other areas of Northern California, please contact me.

Bay Area Home-Value Map

Home Values around the San Francisco Bay Area

A map of median house sales prices by city and town
for 3rd quarter 2013 sales reported to MLS.


In the map above, “k” signifies thousands of dollars and “m” millions of dollars. In one or two instances where the number of sales was insufficient for meaningful statistics, the median sales price is for the 2nd and 3rd quarters combined.

Maps that break down median sales prices and average dollar per square foot values for houses and condos in the different San Francisco neighborhoods can be found here:

SF Neighborhood Values Maps

Median Sales Price is that price at which half the sales occurred for more and half for less. The single median price for a town, city or neighborhood almost always disguises an enormous variety of sales prices in the underlying, individual home sales: For example, median house sales prices in the city of San Francisco range from under $500,000 to over $4,000,000 by neighborhood. Median sales prices may be and often are affected by other factors besides changes in value, such as seasonality; changes in financing conditions, buying patterns and available inventory; and significant changes in the distressed and luxury home segments. Short-term fluctuations are much less meaningful than long-term trends.

North Bay Real Estate Report: 3rd Quarter 2013 Update for Marin, Napa, Sonoma

Later this week on Parascope we will feature our New Home Developments Interactive Map –stay tuned!


Updated Neighborhood Charts: South Beach, Noe-Eureka, Sunset, Potrero, Glen Park

1 2 3 45

San Francisco Neighborhood Map

This map of San Francisco neighborhoods is according to the San Francisco Association of Realtors district and sub-district, Multiple Listing Service (MLS) specifications. Real estate values and prices, property types, age of construction, architectural styles, views, amenities, commercial districts and home sizes can vary widely between different neighborhoods. Indeed, San Francisco is more a collection of delightfully different neighborhoods than a homogenous entity.

If you adjust your screen view to a zoom of 125%, the map will be that much easier to read. If you click on the “Explore” tab above you will find more information about SF neighborhoods; if you click on “Home” you can quickly search for properties by neighborhood; and if you click on ”Market Dynamics” and then “Neighborhood Values” you’ll find analyses of home prices by neighborhood. Please use the “Contact Us” link if you have any questions.



District 1 (Northwest): Sea Cliff, Lake Street, Richmond (Inner, Central, Outer), Jordan Park/Laurel Heights, Lone Mountain

District 2 (West): Sunset & Parkside (Inner, Central, Outer), Golden Gate Heights

District 3 (Southwest): Lake Shore, Lakeside, Merced Manor, Merced Heights, Ingleside, Ingleside Heights, Oceanview

District 4 (Central SW): St. Francis Wood, Forest Hill, West Portal, Forest Knolls, Diamond Heights, Midtown Terrace, Miraloma Park, Sunnyside, Balboa Terrace, Ingleside Terrace, Mt. Davidson Manor, Sherwood Forest, Monterey Heights, Westwood Highlands

District 5 (Central): Noe Valley, Eureka Valley/Dolores Heights (Castro, Liberty Hill), Cole Valley, Glen Park, Corona Heights, Clarendon Heights, Ashbury Heights, Buena Vista Park, Haight Ashbury, Duboce Triangle, Twin Peaks, Mission Dolores, Parnassus Heights

District 6 (Central North): Hayes Valley, North of Panhandle (NOPA), Alamo Square, Western Addition, Anza Vista, Lower Pacific Heights

District 7 (North): Pacific Heights, Presidio Heights, Cow Hollow, Marina

District 8 (Northeast): Russian Hill, Nob Hill, Telegraph Hill, North Beach, Financial District, North Waterfront, Downtown, Van Ness/ Civic Center, Tenderloin

District 9 (East): SoMa, South Beach, Mission Bay, Potrero Hill, Dogpatch, Bernal Heights, Inner Mission, Yerba Buena

District 10 (Southeast): Bayview, Bayview Heights, Excelsior, Portola, Visitacion Valley, Silver Terrace, Mission Terrace, Crocker Amazon, Outer Mission

Some Realtor districts contain neighborhoods that are relatively homogeneous in general home values, such as districts 5 and 7, and others contain neighborhoods of wildly different values, such as district 8 which includes both Russian Hill and the Tenderloin.

From our NorCal network : The Artisan Group


15 Country View Lane
Danville, CA 94526
Offered at $2,885,000

For more information about this property or a referral to other areas of Northern California, please contact me.

Preparing Your Home for Sale

Preparing your home to show is not a matter of taste, but of strategy:

Is there anything that might be done that would result
in making you more money

Regardless of current market conditions, it has been shown time and time again that a well-prepared home will sell for a higher price and in less time than unprepared properties.

Many items that may be done cost comparatively little, and yet may dramatically enhance market response and value. However, from basic cleaning to full staging, anything that appears likely to add significantly more value (in achieved sales price) than what it costs to perform is worth your consideration.

Remember that most buyers and agents have little imagination: If a property looks appealing, they respond well, and if it doesn’t, they simply walk away without even thinking of simple remedies.

The options below range from items that every seller should undertake or at least seriously consider – because the return on investment is so clear – to options that may or may not apply to specific properties or make sense to specific sellers.


  • Thorough, professional cleaning of the entire house, including carpets, hardwood floors and windows. The kitchen and bathrooms, in particular, should look pristine for all showings.
  • Fresh interior paint, especially of main rooms, with light, neutral colors. Perhaps the best investment a seller can make.
  • Flower boxes for steps, walkways, patio, deck and/or exterior windows: it is incredible the effect this makes on buyers and the value this can add.
  • Remove clutter from shelves, tables, counters and desk tops, closets, refrigerator, bathroom cabinets, garage, basement and attic.
  • Remove unneeded or unattractive furniture to open up the room and make it appear larger.
  • Set the dining room table as if for an elegant dinner party.
  • Maximize light and enhance views as possible: new lamps, brighter light bulbs, adjustments to drapes and blinds, tree trimming. Minimize unpleasant views with decorative screens, window treatments or glazed windows.
  • Change the use of rooms to enhance value—for example, from child’s bedroom to adult’s bedroom, exercise room to media room or office, recreation room to den/library, basement to workshop.
  • Replace selected pieces of furniture or area carpets.
  • Fully stage selected main rooms, such as living room, formal dining room and master bedroom—a less expensive alternative to staging the entire house.
  • If necessary, consider wholesale carpet replacement, or the addition of area rugs. If there is hardwood flooring under carpeting, consider carpet removal and floor refinishing. Purchase new doormats and carpet runners.
  • Stage back patio, terrace or deck to look inviting; power wash or re-stain decks.
  • Stage the fireplace, bookshelves, hutches, coffee tables and end tables.
  • Order pre-sale pest and contractor inspections: remedy specific deficiencies as reasonable and cost effective. Get estimates for those major repairs you will not be undertaking. (Reports and estimates will be provided to prospective buyers.)
  • Make miscellaneous small repairs, especially those that improve appearance: replace broken windows and old light-switch plates, fix leaky faucets, touch-up paint.
  • Yard, lawn and garden work: weed, plant flowers, mow, trim shrubs and hedges; if necessary, re-sod lawn.
  • Fresh exterior painting, especially of the front of house, front door and/or front fence.
  • Re-glaze sinks and bathtubs; fresh grout in bathrooms.
  • Make pet arrangements for showing times and open houses; if possible, relocate pets for duration of showing period. Hide litter boxes and pet beds.
  • Have your home photographed by a professional real estate photographer once preparations are completed. The vast majority of potential buyers will first see your home through its photographs, and then decide whether to come see it in person.
  • To consider, if feasible: moving out for first week or two of intensive showing—sometimes sensible for Sellers with young children.

You might consider hiring a staging consultant, whose entire experience and only job is to help sellers identify options to enhance value.

“A study found that staged houses sold in half the time as unstaged homes
and…on average almost 5% more than the sales price for unstaged homes. 

The Week