Top Ten Tips for Selling Your Home in San Francisco

The difference between ‘Good’ and ‘Great’ can be tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars. In SF the buyers are sophisticated and the process is complex. Premium buyers expect a premium presentation. We hope you find our tips below to be useful. Selling your home is process and we are here to help you wherever you are at in the process. Get in touch with any questions or for a free no strings attached consultation to find out how much your home is worth and talk how we can help.

Maximizing the sale of your home involves five basic areas, each of which your agent should be an expert in:

  • Preparing your home for sale
  • Marketing
  • Exposure
  • Negotiation
  • Project managing for a smooth escrow

Decide if it’s the right time for you to sell your home

Having a plan is the first step in deciding if it’s the right time to sell your home. It may sound obvious, but too often people are left selling their home and then scrambling to figure out their next steps. Doing some research and planning upfront will save you a lot of stress later. If you’re buying a new home in SF, we can consult with you about not only what your current home could sell for but also what a new home might cost.

We work with lenders who can discuss options for buying first and selling after and if you’re planning to sell and buy a home at the same time, it’s important to understand what options you have as well as the potential scenarios that can result. We can help you understand the timeline for selling your home and help you come up with a plan to make the transition as stress free as possible.

Invest in getting your home ready for market

While you are living in your home, you want to make it yours. When the time has come to sell, it’s an important change in mindset to look at your home as the large and important investment that it is. Like any investment, the goal when you sell is to maximize it. Maximizing the ROI means investing in upgrades that will make a difference. Our general focus in on minor cosmetic renovations that significantly enhance the appeal of a home. The first step after deciding to work together is to have our stager/designer visit the property and outline the top things that will transform the home. We are experts at creating and sticking to a budget that is based on tried and true upgrades.

We take pride in producing design-centric listings that command top dollar for our clients.

Visit our page at http://how/ to see some of our before and after properties. Which brings us to…

Invest in high quality staging

A common question we get is: 'Should I stage my home?' The short answer to this question is: yes. Why do all this work to get your home ready for sale and then leave it empty? Unless your home is very specifically a true ‘fixer’, we *always* recommend staging. In fact, we think staging is so important that we include the cost of the very best design consultation and staging in our fees, upfront. Staging is much more than showing a buyer where a couch might fit. Staging a home is about presenting a lifestyle that allows buyers to envision living there. Every property is different but the goal is the same: showcase what makes your home special and present it in a way that allows buyers to make that key emotional connection.

Accept that there will be some inconvenience (but that it should be worth it!)

One of the first things clients ask when we meet to talk about selling their home is whether or not they should move out. The answer to this question is yes. This does involve some inconvenience and we don’t mean to downplay that, but if you look at the long game, moving out before you sell your home should pay off in spades. Here’s why:

  • Your house will never present the same while living there as it does professionally prepared for market and staged. When you live in your home, it should reflect your style and how you like to live. When your home is on the market, it should look extremely stylish and have a wide appeal that allows any new owners to personalize the home without feeling like they have to.
  • You will have to move anyways. Once you sell your home, you are going to have to go somewhere. Properly prepared and marketed correctly, your home should sell relatively quickly. Would you rather be scrambling to find a place at the last minute while working to close escrow or relaxing elsewhere?
  • Living in a home while it is on the market is extremely stressful for most people. You’ll have to leave your home for showings, keep your house cleaner than you thought possible and if you have pets and kids, you’ll be constantly wrangling them.

Do the hard work of moving out ahead of time and reap the benefits of a home that has been expertly prepared for market.

Interview a few realtors and choose someone you trust

Just like any profession, there are some truly exceptional real estate professionals in SF and some yahoos. A great realtor should pay for themselves with the money they help you achieve in your sale. Talk to a few people who know your neighborhood well, have lots of experience and can show you a portfolio that speaks for itself. A great realtor will provide a roadmap for a successful sale and help you understand how to advance the ball to achieve your real estate goals. A bad realtor will leave you feeling unsure of what is going on and lacking confidence.

Ask your realtor to present their marketing plan to you. Make sure it is geared towards the way todays buyers view real estate and that they are creating a multifaceted approach that will reach your potential audience. Make sure your realtor understands your personal goals and can create a plan that takes these into account (while still being realistic). At the end of the day, if you don’t trust your realtors advice then you’ve picked the wrong person.

Ask your realtor to present their marketing plan to you. Make sure it is geared towards the way todays buyers view real estate and that they are creating a multifaceted approach that will reach your potential audience. Make sure your realtor understands your personal goals and can create a plan that takes these into account (while still being realistic). At the end of the day, if you don’t trust your realtors advice then you’ve picked the wrong person.

More work upfront means a smooth transaction and less work later.

When selling your home, a huge amount of the work is done upfront. Overseeing every detail from the beginning is key to not only a successful sale, but one that is the least stressful and avoids surprises. There are two main parts to this.

The first part is the market prep discussed above.

The second part involves doing the work to present a complete picture of your home. Many people are worried about ‘disclosing too much’ and presenting their home in a negative light. The truth is that buyers don’t expect a property to be perfect and hiding things about your property will only come out later, which can then involve costly renegotiations with a buyer.

When selling your home, once a buyer is in contract, any ‘new’ disclosures can trigger a 3 day right of rescission for a buyer. We avoid this by doing the work ahead of time to put together a complete disclosure package and avoid presenting new information.

  • Organize any reports, inspections and other major disclosures
  • Organize receipts and invoices from any work you’ve had done
  • Condos: Finalize all budgets, accounts and financials (especially ones that could change).
  • Condos: Organize any pertinent minutes from your meetings and owner discussions of upcoming projects or issues with the building.

Sell your house at the best time of year

Spring is typically the busiest time in the SF market. ‘Spring’ in San Francisco begins in mid to late January and continues through May. As a very general rule we see the biggest gain in home prices during the Spring selling season with a slower rise or sometimes flatten through the Summer and Fall. While there are the most buyers there are also the most homes on the market and you want to time putting your house on the market so you don’t get lost in the crowd while taking advantage of pent up buyer demand.

SF is not governed by a market based on schools, so unlike other areas, summer typically tends to be slower, with many buyers out of town enjoying sunnier climates. You’ll also want to avoid putting your home on the market after the beginning of November through the middle of January.

Our caveat is that this depends greatly on the market and your home. Hire a realtor with a deep understanding of your neighborhood, current inventory and the market for your home. A single family home in Noe Valley has a different audience and market than a condo in SOMA.

Price your home correctly

Pricing is one of the most important steps in preparing your property for sale. A buyer’s first impression of a property is directly related to how the value is perceived in the current market climate. If it does not feel well-priced in comparison with other available properties it will negatively impact an otherwise good first impression.

Your property will get the most attention during the first two to three weeks of market exposure. Statistically, you will most likely receive the highest price during this period as well. If your property is overpriced during this critical period and a price reduction becomes necessary, it is unlikely that you’ll again achieve the level of activity experienced during the initial period. Pricing it right from the start is critical to the successful sale of a home in San Francisco.

The wrong price will cause your house to stagnate, grow stale and receive low-ball offers. You’ll know you’ve overpriced your house when the initial excitement of launch turns into a slow drip of moderate interest and a long, drawn-out and painful process of repositioning and negotiating from positions of weakness. In this situation, sellers often receive less than they were hoping to get.

Save your receipts and itemize them to save on taxes

Many people selling their home are realizing a huge gain (that’s a great thing!) but this profit can exceed the capital gains exclusion for a primary residence. ($500K for a couple and $250K for a single person). The costs associated with selling your home can be deducted from the profit you made when selling. This includes realtor fees, painting, refinishing floors, etc. While repairs aren’t deductible, improvements are. Going back through old receipts or credit card statements can also be a helpful way to document these improvements. Note:: I am not a tax or legal advisor. Be sure to consult a qualified tax or legal representative about your specific situation.

Understand The Costs of Selling Your Home

To plan properly, you'll want to understand the costs involved in selling your home.

We can provide you with a ‘net sheet’ that details the costs associated with selling your home and shows you what you might expect to net. In San Francisco, the biggest costs for a seller are: realtor commissions, any improvements to the property and the city transfer tax (calculated by sales price) as well as miscellaneous costs associated with escrow and closing.

The seller typically pays for the following costs:

  • Real estate commission
  • Document preparation for deed
  • Transfer tax (amount is dependent upon sales price)
  • Payoff of all loans against property
  • Interest accrued on loans being paid off, reconveyance fees and any repayment penalties
  • Any judgment or tax liens against seller
  • Property tax proration until close of escrow
  • Unpaid and prorated homeowner’s dues (for condos and TIC's)
  • Bonds or assessments
  • Delinquent taxes
  • Move-out fees (for condos and TIC's)
  • Notary fees and recordation fees
  • Third party Natural Hazard Disclosure Statement & California Tax Disclosure Report
  • Pre-sale inspection fees (home inspection, pest inspection)
  • Underground storage tank report
  • Energy/Water Conservation inspection/repairs