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6 Steps To Help You Save For a Mortgage In San Francisco

6 Steps To Help You Save For a Mortgage In San Francisco

6 Steps To Help You Save For a Mortgage In San Francisco

6 Steps To Help You Save For a Mortgage In San Francisco

There are a few simple lifestyle hacks that can help you save for your mortgage down payment faster. Try these easy changes to boost your bank balance:

Set a target

To really know how close you are to being able to afford a down payment you’ll need to know how much you need. On a $1m home split between 2 buyers:

Traditional Mortgage: $100k per person

HomeSavvy 10% Down Mortgage: $50k per person

HomeSavvy 5% Down Mortgage: $25k per person

If you’re buying with more than one other person the number will be even lower.

Track Your Spending

Download a budget spreadsheet to keep track of how you’re spending your paycheck every month. Understanding what your money is being used for is a great way to find areas where you can cut back to save for a down payment.

Create A Budget

Use the budget spreadsheet to work out how much you need to spend on necessities (rent, utilities, health insurance, etc.), and luxuries (entertainment, unnecessary purchases, etc.). Experts recommend that you spend no more than 50% on needs and 30% on wants. This will leave you 20% to put into your savings. Again, be brutal on your spending habits!

Check Your Monthly Subscriptions

Look through your bank statements to see what monthly payments leave your account. If you’ve not used a service in the last couple of months cancel it. Ever dollar you save is a step closer to owning your own home.

Make The Most Of Cheap Or Free Activities

San Francisco offers a huge range of cheap and free things to do each week. Take advantage of trying new things and exploring new parts of the city while trying the free fun going on in the Bay. It’s almost like you’re being paid to have fun…

Take On A Side Gig

Hustle your way to your home’s down payment with a side job. Spending a few extra hours on additional work will help bump up your down payment every week.

How long will it take you to save for a down payment?

The LGBTQIA guide to purchasing property in San Francisco

The LGBTQIA guide to purchasing property in San Francisco

The LGBTQIA guide to purchasing property in San Francisco

There’s no place like home: The LGBTQIA guide to purchasing property in San Francisco

Are you at that point where you really hate paying stupidly high rent but don’t want to leave the city that you love? We get it; San Francisco just has something special that makes sacrificing a large part of your income for accommodation acceptable but annoying. After all, no matter how nice your landlord is handing over a few grand each month is pretty painful especially if you’re helping them to pay their own mortgage! If you’re not earning a few hundred thousand per year buying your own property in San Francisco probably feels impossible, but you might be surprised to learn that owning your home is just as financially viable as paying high rent every month. You’ll also be building equity in your own property. Let’s start by looking at the financial requirements of buying a home in the Bay:

Affording a home in San Francisco

San Francisco ranks as one of the most expensive cities in SF, with an income of $119,000 needed to comfortably live in the city. So how do you afford a property where homes easily sell for six figure amounts and rental prices are crazy? The answer: you get creative and use the system to your advantage.

We’ll break this down into two sections: affording the down payment and affording monthly mortgage payments:

Saving For a Down Payment

Traditionally mortgage lenders required homebuyers to save a 20% of the property purchase price to qualify for a mortgage, that’s $200,000 for a $1M home. However, things have changed and there are mortgage lenders who will approve loans for buyers who only have a 5% deposit. So what does this mean for a deposit on an SF home? It’s reduced from $200K to $50K, which is a large saving but that’s still $50,000 you’ll need in your bank account to purchase a home in SF. So what’s the alternative?

If you’re a teacher, first responder, or on a limited income you should contact the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development to learn more about the loan options to help you purchase a home in SF.

If you don’t fall into any of these categories you’ll need to be a little more creative!

Covering the down payment the non traditional way

So to begin let’s throw out that 20% figure as it’s really not needed any more. We’ll do the math based on a 5% down number, which is a more common option among mortgage providers and you can still avoid paying PMI (private mortgage insurance). Say you want to buy a two-bed property in SF for $1,000,000. For a 5% down payment you’ll need $50,000 as a down payment if you choose to buy the property on your own. However, if you buy with friends or a partner you can reduce that down to $25,000 with one co-buyer, or $16,667 with two co-buyers. Saving just under $17K is much easier than $200,000 dollars needed to buy a home on your own while paying 20%! Making the down payment affordable without saving for many years can be done if you know how to hack the home buying system and are willing to share your home with a friend. Remember, this doesn’t have to be your forever home; it’s a home to build equity in a property rather than paying rent towards your landlord’s mortgage!

Affording Mortgage Payments

HSH estimates that you need to be earning $181,000 per year to afford a home on your own in San Francisco, but that’s if you’re able to put down a 20% deposit. How many people can actually afford to drop $200k to buy a million dollar property without saving for at least the next ten years? So how much do you really need to be earning to afford mortgage payments in SF? If you able to put down 5% of the property value it’s actually closer to $216,000 to comfortably afford the mortgage payments on a million dollar property. So, what are your purchase options if you’re not yet bringing in over $200k per year? The simplest answer is to split the mortgage with someone else, this doesn’t need to be a romantic partner, it can be a friend or multiple friends if you buy a multi-bedroom home. By doing this you could lower the income requirement down to $108,000, or even $72,000. The key thing to remember is to keep your mortgage payments under 30% of your pretax income to ensure that you can afford the payments.

LBTQIA Guide To Getting a mortgage

Finding a LGBTQIA friendly lender

We’ve all been there, I’ve personally lost count of the amount of times I’ve had to correct someone when they presumed my spouse was male. Getting a mortgage is already stressful so I highly recommend finding a mortgage broker who is LGBTQIA friendly to eliminate unnecessary causes of stress. Even though discrimination is illegal it doesn’t mean that you won’t still find unfriendly brokers. So how do you go about finding a helpful broker to help you secure a loan? Some businesses actively advertise to the LGBTQIA community, making them a good starting point, but you can also ask friends and family for recommendations. Don’t settle for poor treatment!

Once you’ve found a selection of LGBTQIA friendly lenders you’ll want to narrow down your options based on their mortgage options. Here are a few ways mortgages can vary:

  • The mortgage length
  • The interest rate terms (fixed vs. variable)
  • Whether the mortgage can be transferred (is it assumable?)
  • Deposit amount required
  • Requirement for private mortgage insurance
  • Whether the mortgage is payable on sale
  • What fees are included
  • Equity building or interest only
  • Jumbo loans vs. conforming loans

Ask your lender how these differences affect you monthly mortgage payments, how you build equity, and what happens when you sell your share of the property (should you buy with another person or persons).

What does you marital status mean for mortgages?

Now that we’ve looked at the ownership options when buying a home as an LGBTQIA person, couple, or group lets move on to potential financing issues you might face depending on who’s purchasing the property.

-Married couples, civil partnerships, and unmarried couples

Traditionally mortgages are paid by an individual or shared between a couple who both complete one application, it also means that both parties share financial responsibilities until the mortgage is paid off. If one of you chooses to leave the home the partner remaining in the property will generally have to refinance the mortgage in order to remove your name from the loan.

-Poly families, and groups of friends

You don’t need to be in a relationship to by a home with someone. In fact it’s totally possible for a group of 3 or more friends to buy a property together if you choose the right mortgage lender. Not all lenders will fund these types of mortgages but HomeSavvy can help you secure your loan. For maximum flexibility and protection you need to acquire mortgages that allow co-buyers to sell their share when then want to and also have a legal framework in place to protect your credit.

Getting pre-approved

There’s no denying, buying a house in the extremely competitive SF housing market can be brutal. In fact, you shouldn’t even start making offers on homes until you’ve been pre-aproved for a mortgage. If you’re new to mortgages you might not even know what pre-approval is, but don’t worry it’s actually a pretty simple process. Pre-approval is basically a pre mortgage application. You’ll provide a mortgage provider with basic info about your income, existing debts, and credit rating etc. They’ll use the info to pre-approve you for the mortgage amount that they think you can afford. Once you have this you’ll be able to show proof to home sellers that you’ll be able to close on the offer you’ve made on their property. Why do sellers want this? It helps prevent sales falling through, saving them time and money. It’ll also help you establish a realistic budget.

Here’s what you’ll need to get preapproved:

  • The social security numbers for anyone who will be named on the mortgage.
  • Employment information for all borrowers.
  • Proof of income for everyone who will be named on the mortgage.
  • Self-employment information.
  • Tax documents for the last two tax years.
  • Current address and list of past addresses for the last couple of years.
  • Information about your current finances.
  • Information on your existing debts.
  • Information on your monthly spending habits.
  • Declaration of cash gifts.

Closing On a property

You’ve probably noticed that we’ve skipped talking about finding a home. Honestly, we could probably write another few thousand words on this, and we have a blog post with more info here. But we have two recommendations to help make this process as quick and painless as possible:

  1. Find a local LGBTQIA friendly mortgage broker. Someone who knows the area and is happy to work on your behalf can make a big impact on your property options.
  2. Act quickly, everything on the SF housing market happens at light speed. You’ll need to be quick if you don’t want to miss out on properties.

Once You’ve Found Your Home

Once you’ve had an offer accepted on a property things will really kick into high gear. This is the time when you’ll submit your full mortgage application, have inspections completed on the property, and fill in a lot of paperwork. One important step and often one of the final steps is to choose how you’ll legally own the property with your co-buyers.

Choosing an ownership framework establishes your legal rights

This is perhaps the most important piece of advice any potential homebuyers need to know, and this applies whether you’re married, in a civil partnership, unmarried, or buying with friends:

Make sure you understand the legal rules around the different types of property ownership.


It can make a huge difference on what happens if one of the property owners passes away or wants to leave. Let’s take a look at the options:

Joint Tenancy:

Number of people on the property deed: 2 or more

Share sizes: Must all be equal

Are the stakes transferable to another person: No

Who inherits the share upon the death of an owner: Split between remaining property owners

Joint Tenancy with rights of survivorship:

Number of people on the property deed: 2 or more

Share sizes: Must all be equal

Are the stakes transferable to another person: Yes

Who inherits the share upon the death of an owner: Split between remaining property owners

Tenancy in Common:

Number of people on the property deed: 2 or more

Share sizes: Property holders can own different sized shares

Are the stakes transferable to another person: Yes, even without the permission of other owners

Who inherits the share upon the death of an owner: Property holder’s heirs named in their will

Community Property

Number of people on the property deed: 2 (married couples only)

Share sizes: Equal

Are the stakes transferable to another person: While both parties are living shares can only be transferred with both parties consent.

Who inherits the share upon the death of an owner: Property holder’s heirs named in their will. You can also choose Community Property With Right of Survivorship as the legal framework to give your spouse automatic inheritance.

So how do these options fit with your relationship status?

You’ll have a few options when it comes to deciding on a legal framework for how you own the property with your loved-ones or friends. Your relationship status isn’t important at all when it comes to buying a house, where it does matter is in establishing your legal ownership rights and what happens if an owner passes away or wants to leave. It could also have tax implications both for annual tax returns and inheritance tax.

-Married or Civil Partnership

Married and civil partnership couples have the most options when it comes to legal tenancy choices. You’ll be able to choose from all of the options above, including tenancy in common if you live in California. So why does it matter? Tenancy becomes important if you want to leave your share of the property to someone other than your spouse, for example your children. In this case you’ll want to choose between joint tenancy in common and community property. It also works the other way too in that if you want to ensure that your spouse gets the property you should choose joint tenancy or joint tenancy with rights of survivorship or ensure that your will names your spouse as the heir to the property. It’s important to note that many married couples are often automatically named joint owners with rights of survivorship, if this isn’t what you want make sure the changes are in place before you close on the property.

-Unmarried couples

In many respects you’ll have similar options to a married couple, however you’ll need to decide how combined you want your finances to be. Both joint tenancy options require all parties to own an equal share, but only the option without right of survivorship prevents one party from selling their part of the property. The other key consideration is who you’d want to leave your share of the property to if you passed away. This is actually where tenancy in common agreements give you added flexibility and control over your finances as they allow you to define who will inherit your property using a will rather than the other owner automatically inheriting your share.

-Poly and buying with multiple partners

Do you want to buy a house and have all of your partners named on the property and mortgage? It’s totally possible but not all lenders will allow it. You can name as many people as you want on the property deeds but if you’re taking out a mortgage for your share of the property they’ll have to sign to acknowledge that they’re aware of the loan when the mortgage paperwork is finalized. You’ll need to decide how flexible you want your resale options to be and who will inherit your share if you pass away. You’ll be able to chose from both types of joint tenancy and tenancy in common for your ownership framework, you should research which option will best fit your needs as a family unit.

-Just good friends

It’s totally possible to buy a house with friends instead of paying rent every month! So, what are your legal options if you want to purchase a property with either one or multiple friends? The key thing here is you’re going to want to retain your financial independence from your co-buyers, which leaves tenancy in common as the strongest option. This type of agreement will allow you to sell your share in the property independently and name who inherits your share if you pass away. You’ll want to get a clear legal framework in place to ensure that all buyers are protected.

Making sure you own your property using the legal framework that best fits your needs not only has tax implications; it also ensures that you’re protected from legal issues in the future. If in doubt ask an expert about which option is right for you and your co-buyers!

Get help on the home buying journey

Dealing with mortgages and buying a home can feel overwhelming, especially when you’re looking for property in San Francisco. HomeSavvy is here to guide you through the entire process. From securing a mortgage to closing on your home, our free concierge service is designed to help you through ever step of buying a home in San Francisco. We specialize in helping friends or families co-buy properties and will even provide you with the legal framework you need to protect the rights of each buyer. Sign up today to stop paying rent and instead buy your own home in the Bay.

Dear San Francisco Renters

Dear San Francisco Renters

Dear San Francisco Renters,

You may be closer to affording a home than you think.

Are you fed up with handing over a third (if you’re lucky) of your salary to someone else every month? What about having to do that for the next 5, 10, or 15 years? So why not buy a home instead, after all property prices in the Bay are just so cheap… OK that’s probably stretching the truth a lot but you might be surprised at how close you are to affording your own home in the city.

Paying rent is wasted money

What are you currently paying for rent? $1500, $2000, over $3500 per month? Think about how long you’re planning on living in the city, it’s not a stretch to calculate that you could easily waste $240,000 on rent in the next ten years. You may think that’s just the price you have to pay to live in a city as amazing as San Francisco and maybe that’s one way to stay in the city, but it isn’t the only way.

What’s the alternative?

Buying a home—before you laugh, choke on your drink, or just stop reading, give me a second to explain. I know property prices in San Francisco and the rest of the Bay are kind of crazy but there are ways to make home ownership affordable. Let’s do a little math, I promise you won’t need a math degree to understand where I’m going with this! Say you’re currently living in a two-bed apartment with a friend; between you it’s not unlikely that you’re paying $4700. Now what if you were to purchase a two-bedroom property, it’s going to be way more expensive than renting, right? Actually no, between you and your friend you could purchase a property for around $900,000 and still be spending a very similar amount every month and that includes the mortgage payments, property tax, and home insurance. It’s crazy to think that what you’re paying on rent could actually pay for you to live in your own home with a friend and start to build equity in a property.

Beat the biggest barrier to buying a home by quitting your avocado toast habit…

…if you want to wait hundreds of years to buy your own home.

For many people living in San Francisco the biggest barrier to buying a home isn’t affording the mortgage, after all you’re probably already paying that much per month in rent. It’s actually affording the down payment on a property. As we’ve already mentioned property prices in pretty much all of the Bay are high but let’s look at what down payment you would need to buy a $900,000 home. A lot of people still think that you need 20% of the property value to secure a mortgage, so $180,000 on a $900k home. That’s a lot of avocado toast you’d have to give up. In fact we just ran the numbers and you could probably save that down payment in around 173 (yes we did the math) years if you start today. You might want to get started ASAP.

While a 20% deposit might open some additional mortgage doors it’s actually not a requirement anymore. In fact, many mortgage companies will let you put down as little a 5% on a property. So your down payment needs have already dropped from $180,000 to $45,000. This is where buying with a friend can make a huge difference.

A quicker method than just quitting that expensive toast and latte habit

Forty-five thousand can still feel like an overwhelming amount of money to save , but you’re forgetting about one of the main points of this article—buying a house with a friend, family member, or partner. That $45,000 can now be split between the number of co-buyers, which means for the case of our example you’d only need $22,500 each to pay the 5% down payment on a San Francisco home. If you moved in with 2 friends that drops to $15,000. Seems much more achievable than the traditional $180k figure, right?

Finding an affordable mortgage while protecting your finances

To buy a house with friends and not need a hefty down payment you’ll need to look for mortgages that offer a 5% down payment and don’t require you to take out private mortgage insurance. You’ll also need to have a legal framework in place that protects the rights and the finances all of the co-buyers.

You can have you toast and eat it

With some smart mortgage shopping and professional help to get your co-buying agreement set up you’ll be buying a house much sooner than you expected. Not one slice of avocado toast need be sacrificed to buy your first home!

The ultimate guide to buying a home in San Francisco

The ultimate guide to buying a home in San Francisco

The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Home in San Francisco

Buying a home in San Francisco is both exciting and nerve wracking, after all you’re potentially buying a million dollar home in one of the best (or THE best depending on who you ask) cities in the world. It’s also a unique experience that will break many of the home buying ‘rules’ you’d use anywhere else in the US. Whether you’re currently renting in SF and looking to buy a home with family or friends, or completely new to the area, our home buying guide will help you understand the San Francisco market and buying process from start to finish!

Step 1. Saving For a Down Payment

If you’re already in the financial position to buy a home in SF and have your down payment in place you’re ready to jump ahead to the next section.

If not then stay with us, you might be closer to owning a home than you think!

For many people renting in the city, owning a home can seem a long way off or even impossible due to the down payment requirements, even if you’re earning over $100k. After all, with property prices easily in the 7-figure range you could be looking at a down payment of $200,000 if you take the traditional route of putting down 20% of the property price. How long would it take you to save $200k while living in a city with crazy rent prices like SF? Probably many years. So what’s the alternative if you’re fed up of renting and giving your money to your landlord every month?

Have You Heard of Co-Buying?

Co-buying has been common in Europe for many years. It’s basically where 2 or more people choose to purchase a home together. To co-buy a home you don’t need to be married or even in a relationship with the other buyer/buyers. In fact, it’s pretty common for friends to purchase a home together as an investment instead of wasting money on rent. This means that the mortgage and all home costs are split between all buyers, which makes that million dollar SF home more affordable. One of the many great benefits of co-buying is that it significantly reduces the amount you need to save, as the down payment will be split between all buyers.

Let’s use the $1,000,000 property we used earlier as an example:

20% of $1,000,000 is $200,000 needed for a down payment.

Say two people decide to purchase a home together, the down payment then gets split in two, which is $100,000.

Still seems pretty high, huh?

Well, what if our buyers were financially savvy and shopped around for mortgages that don’t require the traditional 20% deposit?

Hint: There are many of these available.

They find a mortgage that only requires 10% down. On our $1M example house that’s $100,000, which then gets split between our two co-buyers, so $50,000.

By buying a house with a friend and shopping around for the best mortgage deal we’ve reduced the $200,000 needed for a down payment to $50,000.

So, how long would it take you to save $50,000? Or, $33,333 if you purchased the home with two co-buyers?

5 Steps To Help You Save For a Mortgage

There are a few simple lifestyle hacks that can help you save for your mortgage down payment faster. Try these easy changes to boost your bank balance:

  • Track your spending

Do you often wonder where your money goes each month? It’s easy to lose track of what we’re spending our money on if we don’t monitor it closely. Download a budgeting spreadsheet to track your monthly spending habits, it’s a great way to keep an eye on your spending and establish how much you can afford to save each month towards a mortgage down payment.

  • Check your monthly subscriptions

How many monthly subscriptions do you pay for but rarely use? Check through your bank statements and cancel anything that you haven’t used in the last couple of weeks. Be brutal, every dollar is a step closer to owning your own home and never having to deal with annoying landlords ever again!

  • Create a budget

Use a spreadsheet to establish a monthly budget. Set aside a certain amount for each area of your life like necessity costs, lifestyle expenses, and spending on luxuries. Necessities include anything that you have to pay for each month including rent and utility bills. Lifestyle includes anything that isn’t a necessity but you’d find it hard to live without. Luxuries are things that you could sacrifice if you needed to. Remember that every cent that you don’t spend is getting you closer to your own home.

  • Make the most of cheap free activities

Entertainment doesn’t have to cost money, especially in SF where there is always a thousand free activities going on. One of the amazing things about looking for alternative entertainment is the new experiences you’ll have that you would never have experienced if you’d stuck to your existing routine. You’ll also be saving money doing them. It’s almost like you’re being paid to have fun…

  • Take on a side gig

Top up your savings with money from side gigs. Search Craigslist ads, drive for Lyft, do whatever you need to do to get some extra cash flowing in.

Step 2. Get Pre-Approved

Not got a pre-approval letter or a full cash offer? Your bid is going to the bottom of the pile. Right now San Francisco is a seller’s market, meaning they hold all the power and you need to make your bid as attractive as possible. This means that you’ll be bidding over the asking price and you’ll need proof that you can afford the offer you’re making. Pre-approval proof comes in the form of a letter from your mortgage provider saying that they’re willing to give you a mortgage that covers the offer you’re making on the house. Sounds like a hassle, right?

It’s actually pretty quick and easy to get a pre-approval letter if you work with an experienced mortgage broker who can guide you through the process. Here’s what you’ll need to get pre-approved:

  • The social security numbers for anyone who will be named on the mortgage. You’re providing this as proof of your ID and so the lender can track your financial history.
  • Employment information for all borrowers. You may need to list all employers going back two years. Have their name, address, and phone number on hand to make this process easier.
  • Proof of income for everyone who will be named on the mortgage. You’ll need at least your last two pay stubs to show proof of recent income.
  • Self-employment information. If you’re self employed you’ll need to provide proof of you income over the last few years. This may include business balance sheets and business tax returns for the preceding few years.
  • Tax documents for the last two tax years. This includes both W2s and tax returns. The lender will use these to verify your annual income over the last two fiscal years.
  • Current address and list of past addresses for the last couple of years. Basically the lender will want to know where you’ve been living for the previous few years.
  • Information about your current finances. Lenders will want to know how much cash you’ve saved to pay for a down payment and any closing costs. You’ll need to show proof of this so you’ll likely need to show statements for all accounts in your name.
  • Information on your existing debts. Your mortgage eligibility is based heavily on your current debt-to-income ratio. Which means how much you’re earning vs. how much you’re paying off on your debts every month.
  • Information on your monthly spending habits. The lender needs to know that you can afford to pay your bills every month, especially once you add in a mortgage. They’ll need to know about all of your monthly bills including student loans, rent, phone bills, etc. One important thing to remember is that many lenders will base this on the minimum payment amount, so even if you have $10,000 on a credit card they’ll only count the $25 minimum payment as a monthly debt.
  • Declaration of cash gifts. Are family or friends helping you out with the down payment? Then they’ll need to provide a letter declaring the cash as a gift that doesn’t need to be repaid.

Improving Your Buying Power

As mentioned above your mortgage approval amount is based on your debt-to-income ratio. To increase your buying power you should work on reducing your existing debts. Whether you get cash gifts from family, sell things, or take on an extra job you should do whatever you can to reduce your existing debt amount.

Know Your Limits

There’s two things you need to think about with any mortgage: one, what amount you can get approved for and two, what amount you can realistically afford to pay every month. Over extending yourself financially is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Find the amount that fits both your eligibility and monthly budget and you’ll know your buying limit.

Choosing a Lender

Not all mortgages are made equal, in fact there are some key differences that can have a huge impact to your future as a home owner and seller. Work with a mortgage broker who can help get you the best deal on a mortgage that fits your needs now and in the future. Some key differences to look out for include:

  • The mortgage length
  • The interest rate terms (fixed vs. variable)
  • Whether the mortgage can be transferred (is it assumable?)
  • Deposit amount required
  • Requirement for private mortgage insurance
  • Whether the mortgage is payable on sale
  • What fees are included
  • Equity building or interest only
  • Jumbo loans vs. conforming loans

Ask your lender how these differences affect your monthly mortgage payments, how you build equity, and what happens when you sell your share of the property.

Get a Local Realtor

The San Francisco real estate market is not for the do-it-yourselfer. In fact, if you want to buy a home in the next 12 months then you’re going to need professional help. Houses in San Francisco are like gold dust, they appear pretty regularly but someone will swoop that prized nugget out from under your feet before you’ve even had chance to see it. Remember, the local property market is as unique as the city itself with limited supply helping hold prices firm.

Step 2. Choose A Location

Influencing Factors

A big part of your housing hunt will be about deciding where in the city you want to live. One of the most amazing things about SF is how different each neighborhood is, so choosing your home’s location is a big deal. And let’s face it…Karl The Fog is a little more involved in some neighborhoods than others. Your location search will be influenced by a few key factors: price, commute time, neighborhood feel, proximity to outdoor space, shuttle routes, and anything else that’s important to you in your home’s location. You should also think about how long you want to live in the property and the future you see for yourself in SF. Are you planning on staying long enough that you could buy in an up and coming neighborhood and see big profits by owning the home for a few years? Or are you looking for something more short-term?

Be flexible and think outside of the box. Public transit doesn’t just come in the form of Muni (insert sigh of relief), think about ferries, ride shares, shuttles, bikes, big wheels…

Step 3. Find a Home

30 years from now you could be telling your grandchildren about the time you bought a house on Craigslist. I’m totally serious here. When in SF you have to think like a San Franciscan. Anything goes. Don’t just rely on the big websites to help you find your home. Work with your agent and send them any leads you come across, no matter how far fetched they might seem. Currently renting a property? Ask your landlord if they’ve considered selling. Ask friends if they’ve heard of any properties that might be coming onto the market. You might be surprised how far your personal connections can get you.

Think About Your Potential Deal Breakers

It can be easy to get swept up with property buying fever, so before you even go to your first open house you need to think about things that would be potential deal breakers. Think about repairs you’d be happy to undertake vs. ones that would rule a property out. Think about location, is there anything that would stop you buying a home? How about existing tenants, would you be ok with going through the expense and stress of evicting the current residents?

Start Thinking of Open Houses as Your New Hobby

The housing market is competitive, which means you’ll be attending open houses with many other potential buyers. Ask questions, many questions. Find out how many disclosure packets have been given out. This is the information bundle that lists every known issue with the property. Interested buyers will want one of these, so it can give you a good idea about the potential number of offers a property might have. Find a property you like? Contact your realtor ASAP; they’re your property buying wingman who’s going to help you close the deal.

Making An Offer On A Home

Facing the competition can feel like a scene from the hunger games. Want to park your car at an open house? Better get there five hours early or be willing to sacrifice your first-born.

Making an offer on a home in San Francisco isn’t like it is in many other areas of the US. Most properties will receive numerous offers that are well over asking price. Understanding what offer you’ll need to put in to get your new home is a key step in buying a property. This is where your realtor can really make a difference. Using a local realtor who understands the market and can work on your behalf can be the difference between being the best offer and just missing out on your dream property.

Hot tips:

  • There’s almost always an offer deadline so you’ll get your answer pretty quickly
  • Things don’t last longer than two weeks…if they do you might want to run far, far away
  • Your realtor is your best friend
  • Act fast
  • Find ways to make your offer stand out

Step 4. Close The Deal

After Your Offer is Accepted

Congratulations, you just received the right to get the house inspected and fill in many, many pages of paperwork! But really, this is where things start to get exciting, after all you could be as little as a few weeks away from getting the keys to your SF home!!! So what is this whole escrow thing? Basically, it’s the period where the home gets inspected, valued, and all of the serious paperwork gets completed.

To start you’ll need to pay a deposit on the property of up to 3% of the accepted offer price. This money is to show the seller that you’re serious about buying the home. The deposit will count towards the funds you use to buy the property when the sale goes through. Once the money is transferred to an escrow account managed by the seller’s attorney you’ll be able to have an inspector and appraiser visit the property. The inspector will check the house for any problems, both major and minor! Depending on the results of the inspection you may be able to renegotiate the price, but in the Bay Area you’ll need to keep in mind that the seller probably has a backup offer waiting. Ask your realtor for advice on what to do if your inspector finds any significant problems. The appraiser will value the house and give the information to your mortgage provider who will need to know that the amount they are lending is less than the value of the property. This is to protect both the financial interests of the lender and you as a borrower.

You’ll also want to get all of the necessary mortgage paperwork in place ASAP to make the closing process move as quickly as possible.

Closing Day

Closing day can feel overwhelming, especially with all of the paperwork you’ll need to sign, but don’t worry, it’s actually a super simple process. At closing you’ll meet with the appropriate parties to sign all of the paperwork. The people who attend can vary but could include your realtor, your attorney, the seller’s attorney, the seller’s realtor, and the seller. You’ll also need to pay the closing costs, which can include mortgage fees, property taxes, property insurance, and PMI. You’ll also need to have the full down payment amount paid by closing, to do this you’ll either need to have a certified check with you or have the money wire transferred in advance. Then there’s just one thing left…getting the keys to your new home!

Our Final Advice

Stay strong and persistent and you’ll find your San Francisco home.

Your future home is out there! Even when it seems like you’ll never find the right property




Yes the SF real estate market is tough and competitive but that doesn’t mean that you’ll never find the right home. In fact, who’s to say that you won’t be the most qualified and determined buyer to make a bid on the next house you see? Have faith and follow your realtor’s advice. Your home is out there!

Take Away Tips

  • Look at homes in the less well known areas of the city, you may well find an affordable gem of a home hidden where you least expect it!
  • Consider up and coming neighborhoods, they offer the most bang for your buck.
  • Don’t give up if your first few offers aren’t accepted.
  • Visit as many properties as you can to see what your budget will get you.
  • Make sure you do your homework on the neighbourhood so you know what you’re getting into!
  • Stay in the game, things happen quickly in SF so you need to be ready to pounce on your dream property.
  • Get pre-approved for a mortgage, you’ll be much better placed to get an offer accepted.
  • Get help finding a home, experts really can make the difference between success and failure.

If you’re ready to talk through your San Francisco home buying options call or email the HomeSavvy team today. We offer a free concierge service to help you find a property, get approved for a mortgage, get a co-buying agreement in place, and close on your new home!

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