San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the United States, so obviously you hesitate before embarking on the acquisition of a house or an apartment.

We went to meet a professional who kindly spent some time with us to share the basics of a serene purchase.

In California, all offers are available on a centralized database called MLS; the added value of your real estate agent is not to have the best portfolio of properties for sale, but to advise you in your purchase.

All agents, even working for large agencies are independent; It is therefore in their interest to properly identify your needs, to advise you as much as possible in your dealings with financial organizations. When the buyer is introduced to a pro and competent banker, the sale goes better, with less stress and he will have access to more interesting financial products. In short, choosing a real estate agent is a matter of trust and affinity. When all the planets are aligned, a purchase can be completed in 30 days.

If you are new to the bay and want to buy as soon as you arrive, it’s relatively simple if you have the cash. No borrowing, no pre-approval at the bank, no risk for the seller… your file will certainly have plusses. Be careful though, sometimes it’s not enough! Facing two similar offers, a seller may prefer a buyer to another because his cover letter is more convincing… Again, everything is a matter of affinity between you, the seller and your agent.

If you do not have 100% of the amount on your bank account, it will be necessary -even before making a proposal on a good, to find a bank in order to understand the conditions of borrowing which matches your personal situation. Your real estate agent can help you in these steps because it will be necessary to build a pre-approval file that requires a lot of documents.

– If the funds of your down payment are still in France at the time of purchase, it will slow down the whole procedure … The United States are very demanding about the origins of funds, any transfer must be certified. It is good to anticipate this step because it can take several days.
– There is no agent commission to pay for the buyer. It is the seller who pays the fees of the seller’s agent and the buyer (about 5%). In return, still count 1% of purchase fees that will pay the escrow officer, a form of lawyer who replaces the French notary.

You have a real estate agent, a financial file ready, you only have to visit property. For this, enjoy the “open houses” that take place usually on weekends. You will be able to visit houses without being asked for anything, and it is the seller’s agent who will take you around the property. Ask him as many questions as you want, he is there to answer.

A detail that may surprise you, the properties for sale are usually freshly repainted, all the furniture seems to come out of a deco magazine, towels are impeccable. This is known as “staging” so that you can more easily project into your daily life.

This article was written thanks to the kind collaboration of Isabelle Grotte, real estate agent at Zephyr Real Estate on 24th Street. Merci Isabelle for your time and your insights.

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