How Home-Buyers Find Homes

One of the first steps in designing an effective property marketing campaign is to analyze how buyers typically find the homes they purchase. It only makes sense to focus on those media and those efforts that grab the most eyeballs, generate the biggest response and create the greatest sense of urgency to see your home quickly—and write clean, strong offers. Ideally, one wants to orchestrate a multiple-offer scenario where motivated buyers compete with one another to buy your home—it is that situation or the perceived threat of that situation which generates the highest possible sales price.

Based on the chart below, it’s clear that the effort and money should go into comprehensive online marketing, including buying premier placement on the major real estate websites; on broker to broker marketing efforts, because a large percentage of buyers are still steered to listings by their agents; on open house advertising and presentation materials; and on efforts to reach the neighbors, which often includes a direct mail campaign.

As a foundation to these efforts, money is also well spent on preparing the home to show at its absolute best and on professional photography—since most buyers and agents will first see and evaluate the property through its photographs. Pre-marketing inspection reports can also be a smart investment. And it always makes sense to give thought to the buyer profile for your home—to whom will your property most appeal, and who is likely to pay the highest amount of money for it—as this can help tailor the home preparation efforts and marketing campaign to maximum effect.


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

From our NorCal network : The Artisan Group


16730 Mt. Rose Highway
Reno, NV 89511
Offered at $1,395,000

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

Bay Area Home Value Update: Third Quarter 2013 Median Prices

Median prices tend to mask large disparities in the prices of the underlying individual sales, especially in the case of larger cities. For example,  San Francisco neighborhood median house prices range from $465,000 to $4,000,000, and there will be similar disparities in Oakland and San Jose. That being said, median prices can be useful to help show general appreciation trends, and to some degree, to compare home values between different areas. 2012 – mid 2013 was a period of rapid price appreciation just about everywhere on this map.

Buyer & Seller Closing Costs

How buyers and sellers in San Francisco split the closing costs pertinent to the sale of real estate is ultimately decided in the purchase contract itself, but this list details how they are typically split in San Francisco County.

Very generally speaking, a buyer can expect that closing costs will run anywhere from 1% to 3% of the purchase price, the major variable being the loan points charged, if any, by their lender. Other than loan-related fees, the big costs for buyers are for escrow fees and title insurance, home inspections, the first year of hazard insurance and property tax pro-rations, if any.

For sellers, closing costs usually run in the range of 6% to 8% of the sales price, not including loan pay-off and any home preparation or repair costs. Typically, the largest seller costs are brokerage commissions and transfer taxes.


Here is the standard clause governing closing costs in the SFAR purchase contract (Revise date 10/09). Again, buyer and seller can agree to change how these costs are divided.

“PRORATIONS AND EXPENSES. The following shall be paid current and then prorated between Buyer and Seller as of Close of Escrow: real property taxes (based upon the latest information available regarding the assessed value of the Property and the applicable tax rate); bonds and assessments; Homeowners’ Association dues and assessments; interest on any loan(s) secured by the Property assumed by Buyer; premiums for any insurance on the Property assumed by Buyer; rents; and operating expenses. Security deposits and accrued interest thereon, where the law requires interest to be paid on security deposits, shall be credited to Buyer’s account at Close of Escrow. Buyer shall pay the escrow fee and title insurance premiums. Seller shall pay any real property transfer taxes. Buyer shall pay any Homeowners’ Association transfer fees and move-in fees. Seller shall pay any Homeowners’ Association move-out fees. Seller shall pay any prepayment penalty or other fees or charges imposed by lenders for loans being paid off through escrow. Unless specified in this Contract, all other prorations and expenses shall be paid by either Buyer or Seller in accordance with local custom. Buyer and Seller understand that the Property will be reassessed upon change of ownership. A supplemental tax bill will be sent to Buyer which will reflect a change in property taxes based on the Purchase Price becoming the new assessed value. Any tax bills issued after Close of Escrow for periods of time before Close of Escrow shall be paid by Seller.”

The information below is from the website of the San Francisco Assessor’s office, as of April 2013:

Property Taxes in San Francisco

Under State law (Proposition 13), real property is reappraised only when a change-in-ownership occurs, or upon completion of new construction. Except for these two instances, property assessments cannot be increased by more than 2% annually, based on the California Consumer Price Index. The property tax rate is 1% plus any bonds, fees, or special charges.

What is the Transfer Tax Rate for the City and County of San Francisco?

If entire value or consideration is:

More than $100 but less than or equal to $250,000, the tax rate is $2.50 for each $500 or portion thereof;

More than $250 but less than $1,000,000, the tax rate is $3.40 for each $500 or portion thereof;

$1,000,000 or more but less than $5,000,000, the tax rate is $3.75 for each $500 or portion thereof;

$5,000,000 or more but less than $10,000,000, the tax rate is $10.00 for each $500 or portion thereof;

$10,000,000 or more, the tax rate is $12.50 for each $500 or portion thereof.

SF Ranked Top City For Trick-or-Treating

1For the third consecutive year, San Francisco takes the prize as Zillow’s top US city for trick-or-treating. To help identify locations that could potentially dish out the most candy and present the least amount of safety and walking concerns, Zillow determines their rankings based on four categories of equal value: the Zillow Home Value Index, population density, Walk Score, and local crime data from Relocation Essentials.

Other California cities that land in the top 20 are San Jose (#4) and Los Angeles (#6) each moving up a spot from last year, as well as San Diego (#12).

Curious which part of town takes the crown? Zillow also includes in their rankings the top five neighborhoods per city. San Francisco’s may surprise you:
#5- Glen Park
#4- Presidio Heights
#3- Cow Hollow
#2- Sea Cliff
#1- Noe Valley

Zillow’s ranking is, of course, just one way of looking at it. We’ve gotten feedback that lists Cole Valley, St. Francis Wood, and West Portal as tried and true. We’d love to hear more – chime in with your pick!

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.