Suhl Chin and Bobbi Levenson are longtime Bernal residents, and both are realtors with Zephyr Real Estate. Neighbors Suhl and Bobbi recently approached Bernalwood to see if there was anything they could write for us, so we asked for some practical tips aimed at wannabe homebuyers searching for affordable properties in Bernal Heights.
Here’s what they suggest:
Frustrated by the “white hot market” in Bernal? Here are 10 ways to find more affordable houses in Bernal Heights– even if you’re not a tech millionaire.
1. Look for houses that have been sitting on the market for a while. These may be few and far between, but if you find one that appeals to you then it’s possible to come in at a lower price than listed. Many of the houses that sit are overpriced and that is why they are sitting. Be bold and come in under asking instead of waiting for the price reduction.
2. Find properties with tenants. The costs associated with an owner move-in deters many Buyers from offering on these properties.
3. Search for properties that have “fallen out of escrow.” Sometimes, these “back on the market” properties don’t have a set offer date and take offers as they come because owners want to get back in contract as quickly as possible.
4. Be flexible about the neighborhood. Consider properties not in the center of the neighborhood. Look for properties on the outskirts.
5. Be willing to be in Back-Up position at a lower price than the accepted offer price.
6. Bank-owned properties (REOs) and short sales are good alternatives to avoid the multiple-offer scenario. Although not as prevalent as during the recession, there are still a few out there.
7. Write a personal letter to submit with the offer and attach photos of your cute child, dog, sweetie, and yourself. Hokey as it sounds, the personal touch has been known to work.
8. Get full approval from a lender or mortgage broker. This makes for a stronger offer and possibly a quicker close of escrow.
9. Do your inspections prior to writing the offer so that you can write an offer without an inspection contingency.
10. Don’t pay too much attention to the list price. Some agents price properties absurdly low in order to get people in the door. You need to figure out the fair market value of the property, regardless of list price.
Most importantly, don’t get discouraged! It’s a tough market, but be patient, try to make it fun and stay the course. And remember, what goes up must come down. It’s not going to be a white hot market forever!
Great suggestions, all. I’d add two more tips, based entirely on my own Bernal home-buying experience:
11. Tell everyone you know that you want to buy in Bernal. Someone you know may know someone who has a friend who has a cousin whose uncle just died, and the family wants to liquidate the uncle’s Bernal estate ASAP. (My former landlord tipped me off to the house I now own; he was friends with the seller, who needed to sell quickly to cover some medical expenses. I was able to make an offer on my house before it came on the market.)
12. Look for the fixer-uppers. The more fixy-uppy, the better. Techies may have money, but few have time — and it takes time and attention to upgrade a crapbox house. My house, for example, was positively squalid inside. It included a Bathroom of Horror, but photos really can’t capture how bad it smelled. Renovations are costly and stressful, but so is the commute from Pleasanton.