1) You Had Me at Shag Carpet
While your friends are online ooh’ing and awing over the subway tile and wide oak plank floors of their next dream house – you need to be seeking out the shag carpet, the avocado kitchen, and the pink bathtubs. That’s right, the….FIXERS. Fixer-upper’s almost always go for less and the cost of upgrading usually puts you ahead. Plus, you’ll get the chance to customize your home to your personal preference – not today’s latest design fads (please go away barn doors!).
2) Look for The Next Neighborhood
If you’re trying to get a deal in SF – you’re not looking in the historic, well-established neighborhoods (say goodbye to Pac Heights). Cross of the A’s and even the B’s – look to the C’s and even the D’s if you know it’s got potential. Keep informed on what’s happening in SF that could make a neighborhood the “next” real estate hotspot, such as these projects:
The Central Subway Project, which will extend the Muni Metro T Third Line to provide a direct transit link between the Bayshore and Mission Bay areas to SoMa, downtown, and Chinatown. So, it might be a smart idea to take a second look at Chinatown – it’s just a short walk to the FIDI, North Beach, Nob Hill and we’re starting to see some new life being brought into the neighborhood like the award-winning Mister Jiu’s and China Live.
Potrero Hill’s massive redevelopment project will transform the area’s public housing into a mix of below market, at market and commercial space.
Mission Bay has been developing for years, and will soon be home to Dropbox, which just signed the biggest lease in SF history along with a little something called theWarriors Stadium. This area could be perfect for finding an investment property.
Bayview-Hunter’s Point – Dubbed “SF’s last real estate frontier,” homes are still affordable by today’s standards (median in Q3 for Bayview was $788,500K) and the area has some of the sunniest weather in all of SF. The neighborhood’s redevelopment project began in 2006, and has since seen some major changes including the Third St. light rail and a slew of new business in the area including a Peet’s Coffee. This is a great read on the history of the neighborhood for more.
3) Early Bird Gets the Worm (and the House)
You always need a great Realtor, especially if you’re trying for to get any type of a deal. While there are discount brokerages out there – they rarely have the inside track on the upcoming, off market/pocket listings that are so prevalent in SF. In fact, some real estate companies in SF conduct 30% of their business off market. This can be a win-win for both buyer and seller. The seller saves money and time getting the home ready for market and the buyer gets to beat out the competition and avoid the ever so common bidding war.
4) Buy for Tomorrow
You’re a young couple today – but do you think you might have kids in the next four years? If so, push yourself to spend a bit more to get the home with the extra bedroom and space. You’ll want to hold onto this home for at least 5-7 years and if a baby comes before that – you won’t be happy in that "steal" of a $600K loft apartment. Same idea applies if you’re an older couple. Maybe a home with stairs makes sense today – but in reality a home that’s all one level or has an elevator would be smarter for the future. This tip isn’t necessarily saving you money today, but it will tomorrow.