To buy a home in San Francisco can be a daunting task, especially for first-time homebuyers, and especially those with a specific list of wants and needs.

The city’s complex real estate market, with its sky-high prices and fierce competition for the most desirable homes, can be enough to make anyone’s head spin. We get it! At Vivre Real Estate, our boutique collective of full-time agents, marketing, and administrative professionals are here to guide you through the process and help you secure your dream home.

In this entry to our San Francisco Real Estate Case Study Series, we’ll take a look at how Vivre Real Estate lead buyer specialist Josh Ortiz helped a client navigate the challenging SF real estate market and overcome some serious financing hurdles to find their perfect home. (Remember the Silicon Valley Bank run? Yep… they were our buyer’s lender, with closing scheduled the Monday after the collapse!)

So buckle up and enjoy these real-life examples and actionable tips for buying a home in the San Francisco Bay Area!

Living room at 1793 Sanchez St, with fireplace, chairs, couch, and French doors to balcony backing to a tree.
What’s your perfect home in the San Francisco Bay Area?

Buying the One and Only San Francisco Home You Want (And the Pressure is On!)

When our clients first contacted us, they were upfront and honest about their intentions: they were interested in one specific listing for sale in Hayes Valley and only that property. If they didn’t win the bid for that specific home, they wouldn’t be active buyers. And of course, the listing was a popular one with a solid group of qualified home buyers vying to make it their new home.

These home buyers had very specific criteria and were perfectly happy in their current rental apartment. Most of our buyers are ready to buy a home more generally and want to make sure to match their needs and budget to the property. However, sometimes a home buyer is more opportunistic, watching the market closely over time for that needle in the haystack. 

Talk about pressure, right? But here at Vivre Real Estate, we have a competitive spirit (years of sports helps!) and we thrive on challenges like these. Josh Ortiz, a lifelong basketball player, loves teamwork, collaboration, and of course, winning, so he was geared up and ready to make it happen for these Hayes Valley home buyers. 

So, how do you approach a situation like this, where it’s all or nothing? Well, the first step is to establish a clear goal, and in this case it was simple: to win. And yet, no one wants to overpay just for the sake of winning. The offer and ultimate sales price needs to make sense. It’s about winning with strategy and finesse, not just throwing money at the problem. 

As the saying goes, “where there’s a will, there’s a way,” and our team was determined to find that way. The clients met with Josh over Zoom for an in-depth San Francisco home buying consultation. There was synergy; it felt like a great, mutual fit. So, the team was assembled and strategy began to form. But before we can strategize, we should first understand the unique aspects of the San Francisco real estate market that make it challenging for homebuyers.

Giant needle sticking out of a cylindrical hay bale.
Artist’s depiction of the moment our buyers found their eventual new home.

What Home Buyers Should Understand About the San Francisco Real Estate Market

To succeed in buying a home in the San Francisco Bay Area, you need to be aware of a few key factors that set our market apart from others. For starters, San Francisco is notorious for its low inventory and high demand (even now) for the best listings, which means that competition is often fierce. In our little seven-by-seven-mile city, it’s not uncommon for a desirable, well-located San Francisco home to receive multiple offers, often well above the asking price. (For more on this, see our quick vlog: The Strategy (and Struggle) of Underpricing in SF Real Estate.)

Additionally, the city’s unique topography and architecture can also present some unexpected hurdles for homebuyers. With hills, microclimates, and diverse architectural styles, finding the perfect home in San Francisco can be like searching for a needle in a haystack (or more accurately a well-located, move-in ready house in a sea of… not much!).

So, how did Josh Ortiz and the Vivre Real Estate team of top San Francisco real estate agents tackle these challenges to help our clients win the bid for their dream home?

Expansive view of San Francisco from Twin Peaks elevation
There’s nothing quite like San Francisco—or San Francisco real estate.

The Winning Strategy: Playing to Win in San Francisco Real Estate

In a high-stakes situation like buying a home in San Francisco, having the right strategy is crucial for success. So, what did Josh and the Vivre Real Estate team do to ensure our clients emerged victorious? The answer lies in advanced, emotionally intelligent communication skills, a solid game plan, and some good old-fashioned intuition.

Communication is Key to Create a United Front 

Josh knew that the key to success in this all-or-nothing scenario was to ensure everyone involved was on the same page. By maintaining open lines of communication with the clients, the listing team, and the other parties involved, he was able to keep everyone in the loop and navigate the process smoothly. Little did they know what was in store to happen during the escrow process. Open, honest communication between professionals would be key to keeping this purchase together. 

The Art of the Perfect Offer: Strategy and Intuition in Action

With a play-to-win mindset, Josh and team devised the perfect strategy for their clients. The property they were after received four offers, and their clients were tied for the top spot. In a surprising twist, the listing team opted not to issue a multiple-counter, instead asking for “best and final offers.”

This was a critical moment in the process, and it was essential for Josh to carefully assess the situation and advise his clients on their best course of action. Drawing on his experience and intuition, he explained the clients’ options and gave his best, informed predictions of what the other parties would likely do. This allowed the clients to make an informed decision and submit a winning offer.

Outdoor living area in large backyard of San Francisco single-family home sold by Danielle Lazier Vivre Real Estate
When it’s time to make an offer, we’re here to collaborate and guide you to make the best-informed decisions.

Buying a Home in SF: The Sweet Taste of Victory

Ultimately, three parties re-wrote their offers, with everyone increasing their offer price, but our clients emerged as the winners, beating the competition by $20k. This margin was large enough for the sellers to feel confident they had chosen the right buyers, while small enough for our clients to know they weren’t overpaying. At these price points, $20,000—while nothing to slouch at—is less than 1%. 

In the end, it all came down to having clear expectations and goals from the beginning. The goal was to win, while avoiding overpaying, and that’s precisely what our clients did thanks to Josh and the Vivre Real Estate team’s expert guidance and dedication.

But having your offer accepted is only the start of a whole new process: escrow! There’s a lot that can go awry between having your offer to purchase a home accepted and the close of escrow when the keys are in your hands. Though to be fair, this type of story is luckily VERY rare. So, what happened after our clients won the bid? (And what kind of closing costs and fees could they expect as San Francisco homebuyers? Read about Real Estate Closing Costs in San Francisco.)

Overcoming Challenges to Buying an SF Bay Area Home

Once our clients secured their dream home, they faced an unexpected challenge: their lender, Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), was in the midst of a very public, dramatic bank run. The FDIC had closed the bank only three days before the scheduled close of escrow (COE), including that fateful weekend where we were all on pins and needles. Exciting, right?! 

Staying Cool Under Pressure to Navigate the Unpredictable

Despite this unforeseen obstacle, our clients kept their cool. Josh, always the consummate professional, was there to guide them through the uncertainty. He explained their options for best- and worst-case scenarios, helping them devise plans A and B. In the end, Plan A worked out; SVB funded the loan on time, and our clients could breathe a well-deserved sigh of relief.

Danielle Lazier and Vivre Real Estate have been around navigating the ups and downs of San Francisco real estate since 2002. This means that it is not our first banking-catastrophe rodeo!  

The Secret Sauce: Trust and Collaboration

The key to navigating this challenging situation was the strong foundation of trust and collaboration that Josh had built with his clients, and the relationships between the listing agents and our team of buyer agents. The home buyers knew they could rely on Vivre’s expertise and guidance, even during moments of uncertainty and tremendous pressure. It’s this trust that allowed them to stay poised and focused on their goal of buying their perfect home in San Francisco. And the listing agent knew they could trust us to handle this situation, having worked together in the past on many other transactions—some that were quite complicated. 

There are over 5,000 licensed real estate agents in San Francisco. But would it surprise you to learn that about 5-10% of us do 90% of the sales? Your agent’s reputation is crucially important to your success as a homebuyer or home seller in San Francisco’s intimate real estate market.

Drone photo from high above Bernal Heights neighborhood homes, showing Bernal Hill in the background.
Vivre Real Estate stands out among the sea of San Francisco Bay Area Realtors.

San Francisco Home Buyer’s Happy Ending (Or, Rather, Happy Beginning!)

Our clients’ real estate story about buying their beautiful Hayes Valley home is a testament to the power of perseverance, trust, and collaboration in the complex San Francisco real estate market—and working with the Best San Francisco Real Estate Buyer Agent. We couldn’t be prouder of their success and are thrilled to have played a part in helping them achieve their dream.

If you’re considering buying a home in San Francisco, remember that the journey might be challenging, but with the right team by your side, it can also be incredibly rewarding. At Vivre Real Estate, we’re committed to enhancing our clients’ home life, one success story at a time.

Do you have a similar success story to share or questions about navigating the San Francisco real estate market? We’d love to hear from you! Get in touch with us to start your own journey towards homeownership in our beautiful City by the Bay. Contact us today!

Of course, we love to sell homes too! Learn more about how Danielle Lazier is a top listing agent in San Francisco and expert negotiator.

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