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    How to Win as a San Francisco Home Buyer in Today’s Market

    georgeIt’s no secret that the San Francisco housing market is hot, hot, hot. Limited inventory and lots of competition leave buyers questioning, “What does it take for my offer to be accepted?” Offer after offer, this market can begin to wear and tear on buyers emotionally and physically, with many hearing these famous last words from a Realtor: “So close this time, but the sellers accepted another offer.”

    Fear no more! I have compiled some tactics that can help you to change your offer from “so close” to: “Congrats! They accepted your offer.” Some of these may seem obvious, but are all too often overlooked in the beginning stages of home buying.

    Get pre-approved.

    This should be done from day number one. Begin by having a conversation with a Bank or Mortgage Broker. In doing so, you will have a much clearer idea of what you can afford to purchase, and how much it will cost you to do so. Having an approval ready means that the moment you find the “perfect” home, you can pull the proverbial trigger and present an offer to the sellers.

    Brush up on market trends.

    Reach out to a local Realtor (like myself), and begin to have a conversation about local trends. Get a better understanding of how the market is performing. Even within San Francisco, we have micro-markets in which areas are performing differently than others. Go out and start looking for yourself during open houses in the areas you like. Visually see the activity at each property, and even follow the properties online to see what they end up selling for. This will help you to become an informed buyer and to make an educated decision when you decide to place an offer on a property.

    Work with an agent.

    When we get sick we don’t (or shouldn’t) diagnose ourselves; we seek out a professional. So why try and navigate the real estate market alone? Get in touch with an expert who is knowledgeable, is willing to offer unbiased advice, and who truly has your best interest at heart. Having an agent allows you to receive advice on local laws, rules and regulations. A great agent will also go the extra mile to learn about your wants, needs and your lifestyle. They should be asking you a ton of questions, and if they are not, it’s time to find a new agent. An agent should also be investigating the properties you like to learn everything they possibly can. Not only does this help you decide if a property might be the right home, but also it is key when it comes time for negotiations.

    Think outside of the box.

    Being one step ahead of other buyers could mean the difference between a “yes” and a “no” from a seller. Consider these two factors:

    1. Emotional Attraction- Even though money is a top priority for a seller, don’t be sidetracked completely by that fact. Selling a home is emotional as well, and sometimes there is a lot of attachment and history that goes along with the sale. Learn what that is for the seller, and let them know you will take care of the home and what your intentions are. Allow them to know about you as well. Sometimes, when your offer is very close to that of another prospective buyer(s), sellers will choose whom they want the house to go to based on how they feel about one particular buyer. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve hear from a seller, “We want our home to go to someone who will continue to take care of it.”

    2. Hidden Gems- 92% of buyers begin their search online and assume that what they see is all that is available for sale. As a realtor, we have access to what we call “Pocket” Listings, or “Off-Market” Listings. These are properties that could be coming onto the market soon, but just aren’t ready yet, or maybe the seller doesn’t want 100+ people trekking through their home on the weekends. Speak with your agent and ask if they have access to these listings. They can give you an advantage over other buyers at seeing a property first. In some cases, you could even purchase a property before it hits the open market!

    What it all boils down to is finding an agent who will educate you and help you to implement these tactics, so you are armed with accurate information and a better understanding of the current market. In the end, you will then win at acquiring your dream home. Keep in mind this equation: knowledge + street level insights + strategic negotiating skills = making an informed and educated decision that wins!

    To get you started for now, please visit for my free homebuyer’s guide.

    George Langford is a senior sales associate at CLIMB Real Estate group in San Francisco and is the founder of Let his expertise guide you to your new home, or help you to get the best price for your current one. To contact George, please phone 415-336-8191 or e-mail him at