When selling a home in San Francisco, it’s important to do your research and have a plan. We promise that this will save you a lot of time and money in the long run!
1. Is It the Right Time to Sell?
If you’re buying first and then selling, selling first and then buying, or trying to do it in tandem, an experienced real estate agent can consult with you to make the transition as seamless as possible.
After you’ve decided it’s the right time for you to sell your home, you’ll want to take advantage of the best possible market conditions. In general, the prime selling seasons are in the spring (January to June) and again in the fall (August to October). However, San Francisco marches to its own beat (of course!) and frankly, the market here is year-round. I’ve successfully sold homes every month of the year and on most major holidays! Zillow will tell you that statistically the highest sales prices are in the spring but that’s a high-level number with many variation in the detail.
2. List Price Does Not Equal Sales Price
House hunting in San Francisco works a lot like a closed-bid auction. Under most circumstances, it remains beneficial for the seller to list the property below perceived market value to increase home buyer demand and encourage multiple offers. Buyers assume they’re going to have to overbid because of competition, and it’s often true. This strategy of “price low to sell high” works best in areas with low inventory like most San Francisco neighborhoods.
The pricing and marketing strategy will depend on the specific listing and location. For example, the strategy may be to have a wider or narrower spread between the list price and what the seller hopes to achieve in the final sales price. This will work best in locations where demand outstrips supply. As always, consult a local professional (i.e., me!) before deciding on a strategy. Setting the perfect listing price yields the best sales price when selling a home in San Francisco.
3. Staging Produces 10x Results
Yes, it’s a pain and yes, it’s more expensive in the short run but if you can swing it, moving out so the property can be professionally staged will produce 10X results. If moving out is not an option, your real estate agent can work with you (and your budget) to create as close to a “staged” feeling as possible. You can DIY or hire a professional organizer to help de-clutter or even partially stage the home.
Set up a walk-through with your agent and they’ll be able to give you a list of what needs to be done to freshen up the place. You’ve probably learned to live with a few minor issues that will not leave a good impression on new homebuyers. Little imperfections here and there can undermine the value of your home and lead to buyers asking for price reductions. Make repairs and home improvements before staging and going on the market.
The key is to get rid of clutter and showcase what Danielle likes to call, “the illusion of life but not actual life!” Prospective buyers want to be able to envision themselves in the home rather than be distracted by your personal memorabilia. Staging helps facilitate this “blank slate” with optimal furniture for the space, bright lighting, neutral colors, accent rugs, and a few pieces of art.
Often, the seller will move out of the property and into a temporary rental while repairs, home improvements, and staging are done. If your budget doesn’t allow for that, it is also possible to stage while you are living in the home using some of your furniture and some of the designers. Check out our listing for 736 Shrader, which is a good example of partial staging.
Staging is optional and not applicable to all situations. A reputable agent will work with your particular situation and needs to craft the optimal game plan when it’s time to sell your home in San Francisco.
4. Your Home’s Curb Appeal Matters
Your house can be immaculately staged and have all the best upgrades and amenities, but if the outside doesn’t look attractive, you could be losing potential buyers. Trim those shrubs, clean your windows and shutters, update the front door and/or house numbers, powerwash and paint the trim, do some basic landscaping, and make sure the driveway and walkways look nice. Don’t forget to trim any trees on your property as well. We want as much natural light in the home as possible!
5. Don’t Try To Hide Any Imperfections
If there are minor imperfections with your home, don’t try to hide them. The property will be thoroughly inspected by several tradespeople and buyers understand that no home is perfect. Either fix the little items before marketing or disclose. Buyers are much more willing to accept imperfections when they know about them ahead of time.
6. Show Your Home
Every market is different but in San Francisco, the open house is standard operating procedure. The more people that come to see your house, the faster it will sell, and open houses are efficient for this very reason. And, while open houses are important, you should also make your home is available for private showings because many home buyers prefer to walk a property alone with their buyers agent before they make an offer. So, be sure your home is easy to show!
7. Give Yourself Some Space To Breathe
Selling a home is a lot of work and there will always be something that comes up, so it’s best to accept that there will be some inconveniences in the process. If at all possible, move out before you put your home on the market. Living in a home that is currently on the market can be stressful and exhausting. It is inconvenient for you to vacate your home every time there is an appointment, open house, or private showing, and it is hard to keep it in pristine condition. If you have kids or pets, you can only imagine how hard it will be! Do the hard work of moving out ahead of time and find a short-term rental while your home sells. It will pay off in the sale and be a more enjoyable process for you.
(Of course, moving out is not always possible. We understand and will work flexibly with you on the best plan for your personal situation.)
8. Leave Your Feelings at the Front Door
Selling your home is going to be emotional and that’s totally okay! However, don’t let your feelings get in the way of your decision-making. Do your best to stay relaxed, stay calm, and listen to good advice by the professionals that you hire, especially during contract negotiations. You can’t take offers personally. One of the most common mistakes home sellers make is allowing their emotions to rule their decisions.
When you’re selling in San Francisco, you’re looking for the strongest offer on price and terms such as contingencies and financing. The highest price is not always the best offer, so make sure you don’t base your decision solely on dollar amount.
9. Be Ready For Closing Costs & Tax Implications
If you bought when the market was low, you stand to gain a large return on your investment in the current real estate market.
If this is the first time you’re selling a home in San Francisco, it’s important to be ready and aware of some of the closing costs coming your way. Many of the closing costs for home buyers and sellers in San Francisco prorate based on the sales price and close of escrow date.
For home sellers, some of the common fees you can expect to pay for during the escrow or at the closing are:
- San Francisco city and county transfer tax (Learn how to calculate your SF transfer tax here.)
- Real estate broker commission
- Pre-sale inspections
- Compliance with any California and San Francisco required ordinances such as energy and water conservation
- Pre-sale enhancements such as painting, minor repairs, floor refinishing, garden clean-up, cleaning, etc. A skilled San Francisco listing agent (ahem, like Danielle Lazier) will advise on the most crucial fix-ups to bring you a substantial return on investment (ROI).
- Professional home staging, when appropriate
- Property taxes prorated on the closing date
- Homeowners association fees, if any, prorated on the closing date
- Loan payoffs, i.e. your proceeds will be used to pay off your current loan
Be ready for the costs of selling a house in San Francisco and hire the real estate agent who will get you the highest NET return on the sale of your home.
10. Find the Right Real Estate Agent
Real estate is about relationships. Not all San Francisco real estate agents are alike and a top agent can net their seller tens (sometimes hundreds) of thousands of dollars more via their superior marketing, negotiation and transaction management. In order for your sales process to be as stress-free as possible, you will want to find an agent that is the right fit for you. They don’t have to a be a so-called “neighborhood specialist” (which is often a bit misleading), but it does help for your agent to live in San Francisco so they are a part of the local community and are nearby for showings and support. Be selective when selecting an agent because you deserve the best fit for you and your home.
Plan Ahead When Selling in San Francisco
Selling your home in San Francisco can seem like a daunting process. In addition to our “Top 10 Things to Know When Selling in San Francisco” list, can help! Danielle’s listings sell for more money in faster time. Yes, we can prove it! We’ve got a team with a great track record of San Francisco home sales. When you are ready to sell, reach out to Danielle Lazier :: SFhotlist Team and Compass San Francisco and let us know how we can help. We are in the top 1% of SF Realtors with a combined 56+ years of San Francisco real estate experience a track record of 5-Star success.