Real Estate Today

Increase your chances for a successful house hunt

There are alternatives to using a local real estate agent, but use the real thing for the best results. Photo: Alexas Photos

Spring has sprung, or at least it has in the real estate market in San Francisco. Buyers are out in full force searching for all types of homes. Believe it or not, an agent offering a condo for sale in Noe Valley sent out 50 disclosure packages and received almost 20 offers. Of course it sold for way over the asking price. It is common to find a desirable property that has two weekend open houses with offers accepted a few days later. As the baby boom continues, three-bedroom homes are in especially high demand and buyers are often willing to pay well over the asking price as they compete for the small number of homes on the market.

The question is, Other than price and contingencies, what can a buyer do to meet with success? Here are two things to do that will boost your chances.

First: Work with an experienced San Francisco real estate agent. Why do buyers need a San Francisco agent? Local experience may make the difference between success and failure because homes sell so quickly. Successful local agents know the market and how to write a winning offer. They understand it is not about the comps but the competition. They know being a successful buyer’s agent is about working closely with buyers so they can be ready to view property and write offers as soon as possible. Surprisingly, the winning offer is oftentimes very close or essentially the same as the offer in second place. Do you want to risk have a winning offer, but the wrong agent?

Second: The Internet is an amazing tool to help with your search, but it is not the same as working with a professional San Francisco real estate agent. At my open houses when I ask, “Are you working with an agent?” many times the response is “Oh, we are just starting out. Eventually we will find an agent. We are looking online to get started.” It is impossible for a new buyer to fully understand how every home in San Francisco is different. Even in new buildings you will find individual pricing for condos depending on the size and location in the building. Buying a home is an incredibly time-intensive activity, and your agent will put you on the fast track to success.

Buyers have an uphill road to success at all price points. A good agent will help you focus your search and save you hours of time over the long run. My recommendation is to begin your search for a home with choosing a real estate agent. Choosing a San Francisco agent may make the difference between success or failure and will save you time and money as the price of homes continues to appreciate in the coming year.

Buyers may get a discount or less than full service with a friend, relative, or out-of-city agent, but if they never buy a home, it is not much of a deal.

The same goes for sellers. I am always surprised when I see a listing where the agent is from out of town, sometimes as far as Sonoma or Tracy. The market is so desperate for inventory today, it is not about selling the property. Just about everything sells. It is about marketing and the sale price. Local agents will have the necessary tools at their fingertips to sell a property at the highest price.

What do you say to your friends, relatives, or out-of-city agents when you decide to use a local full-time agent? Tell them you know they do an excellent job, but in today’s fast-paced market, you feel a local agent is better equipped to help you meet with success. Ask them to refer you to an agent that is a San Francisco specialist who really knows the neighborhoods. It is important to understand the nuances of a location, whether it means proximity to a commercial strip, Muni, BART, corporate shuttles, or the freeways. A few blocks away from a walk to a coffee location or transportation can mean the difference in price of $100,000 or more.

Keep in mind that a referring agent always gets a percentage of the commission when a property is sold. Isn’t something of something better than nothing of nothing? Everyone wins. Buyers find a home, and sellers and referring agents make a sale.


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Carole Isaacs is a Realtor with McGuire Real Estate, where she is a Top Producer. Follow her on Twitter @CaroleIsaacs, visit her online at or call 415-608-1267.