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You Can't STEAL a San Francisco Home

ThiefSo we hear a lot of talk about the fact that we’re in a “buyer’s market” in San Francisco.  I’ll agree. 
Home buyers have a lot more power than they have had in YEARS!
No longer do buyers have to line up and take a number to throw the biggest non-contingent offer that they can come up with to get a property they might consider calling “home.”  In fact, homebuyers can ask for things! 
  • Lower purchase price
  • Repairs
  • Credits for repairs
  • Closing Costs
  • Seller Financing
  • Etc, etc, etc. 
In the end, the transaction can be a “win win” for everyone involved.  The seller gets a fair price for their property and the buyer pays a fair price for a home they’ll love for years to come.
But not everyone is happy with a “win win”.
There are a helluva lot of wanna-be thieves around. 
I run into a lot of people that think that in this SF “buyer’s market, they can steal a home. 
Sorry Bucko. 
This just doesn’t happen in San Francisco.  As a colleague of mine in the mortgage side of the industry said:
Even sellers that are motivated know that if they don’t get the minimum they want for the property can easily rent the property for another year or two to cover the costs while the values turn around.  … For the most part people who can afford to own SF real estate are just too savvy when it comes time to sell.
The offers they are making are $50K, $100K, $150K and more UNDER the actual market value of the home!!!
Unfortunately, these wanna-be thieves think they’re seriously looking for a home, but really, they’re wasting a lot of time – their time, the seller’s time, their agent’s time, their lender’s time. 
The problem is that they are reading the papers and listening to the news and the doom and gloom and thinking that the circumstances are WAY more dire than they are.  
In real estate, as in life, it’s often best to follow the silver rule.   
If the golden rule is “Do unto other as you’d want them to do unto you” then the silver rule is “DON’T do unto others are you wouldn’t want them to do unto you.”  (And no, I’m totally not making that up.) 
At the very least, don’t expect them to act in a manner that you wouldn’t act in if you were in their shoes.
Meaning, if you, the buyer, were in the seller same circumstances in this market, would you accept the price that you are offering?  If the answer is “no” then don’t be surprised if that same seller decides not to accept your offer. 
I’m not saying “play fair” (though I think it’d be very nice if we all could do that), but I am saying that if your offer is $100K under comparable recent sales and the property you are looking at is not a short sale or foreclosure (or possibly a developer looking to offload some leftover units – contact me if you want to learn more about that!), then you are fooling yourself if you think your offer will get any serious consideration. 
You just can’t steal a home in SF. 
But that’s not saying you can’t offer under the asking price!!!  Or even, if the circumstances are right, a smidge under the value of recent comparable sales.  A seller might be willing to leave $20K, 30K or more on the table to guarantee themselves a smooth and problem-free transaction and an escrow that will actually close. 
But if you wouldn’t leave $50K, $100K or much more on the table, why would you think that someone else would? 
Don’t get me wrong.  I fight HARD to get my clients a good value for their home.  I can spot a value and I can spot a property that may not end up being such a bargain due to competition or other factors.  But being an accomplice to attempted theft – I find it to be a long and frustrating process.  It can takes ages before the wanna-be thieves finally realize that they won’t get away with the crime and start making realistic offers on properties that they can afford. 
This is a great time to buy.   
You will get a good value if you buy a home in San Francisco now, but no matter how hard you try, it’s still unlikely that you’ll get a STEAL!