How Did This House Get Here? Researching Your San Francisco Home’s Records, Permits and Plans
Where are the floorplans for your home? That’s a good question. Many homes in SF as well as other parts of the Bay Area do not have plans on file due to the age of the home. If you think back 80 years ago, there were no photo copiers and every copy of plans had to be hand drawn so asking someone to submit a copy was a burden. Today we expect these things with a click, but it just wasn’t required for residential construction until at least the 1960s anywhere!

Supplemental Property Taxes
By the way, when a transaction closes, the property tax basis is set at the sale price as prescribed by the famous Jarvis-Gann Initiative Proposition 13 passed into law in 1978. Here is an article about how the transition to the new tax basis is handled.

New Conforming Loan Limits Map for 2022
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) today announced the conforming loan limits (CLLs) for mortgages to be acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) in 2022. In most of the U.S., the 2022 CLL for one-unit properties will be $647,200, an increase of $98,950 from $548,250 in 2021.

A Few Words About Estate Planning
I bet estate planning is on your list.  It’s important, but time consuming and a giant emotional drag so people put it off.  But it’s there to protect you and your loved ones from the unexpected as well as the eventual and unavoidable reality of of life.  I had a client call me this year who was going in for major surgery and he not only didn’t have a will, he was holding title to his home incorrectly and his wife would have had to go through probate just to stay in her own home if he had passed away.

Estate Tax And Prop 19 Changes That May Impact You
Prop. 19 eliminates the parent-child and grandparent-grandchild exclusion from reassessment for properties other than a “family home.” Prior to Prop. 19’s passage, a parent could transfer the parent’s primary residence and up to $1,000,000 of assessed value other property (vacation home, commercial property, rental properties, investment properties and so on) to their children and such properties would retain the low adjusted base year value for property tax purposes.

Some thoughts on Homeowners’ Insurance
Let’s talk about your homeowners’ insurance for a moment. Insurance companies are competing for your business when you call and ask for a quote.  The price is an important factor to most consumers so, in order to win your business, they often underinsure people to keep the price low.  We are in a high cost area for construction. If there is a big event where many people have a loss, rebuilding costs will be even higher.  Another factor is that the finishes in our area are often high end and your coverage needs to reflect that or you will be underinsured.

To DALP or not to DALP, pros and cons of SF MOH down payment assistance
I have represented many folks using SFMOH housing programs.  There are a few of them.  One of the best and most widely useful is the Downpayment Assistant Program or DALP.  The DALP has been first come first serve in the past but starting in about 2015 it became lottery based because they increased both the income limits and amount of money available, which increased the popularity of the program quite a bit.  

What is a homeowner’s exemption and why is it $7,000?
Following a purchase or sometimes during the escrow signing process I am asked if buyers should apply for the $7000 Homeowner’s exemption from assessment.  This means that if your assessed value is X, it will be X-$7,000 once you file for the exemption.  And once you file it, it stays in place until you file another one or another owner files one on the same property. It takes just a few minutes and over the long haul it’s worth it.  

What’s wrong with TICs? In a nutshell …
Your regular lender will not lend on a TIC. You need what is called a “fractional” loan, which is similar to what is used to buy a Co-op in NYC. For this, you need a special lender – there are several. Sterling is my go-to, Bank of Marin, NCB, Bank of SF to name a few. Please ask me for a referral.

Types of TIC Loans – Pros and Cons
Group loans are regular multi-unit-building or commercial loans where the parties agree to each pay their share. The parties apply for the loan together. Most groups have a joint bank account where everyone deposits their money and the money is sent every month to the lender. Back before 2007 or so, this was the norm for TICs and it was the main reason TICs were generally worth 25% less than condos. People had to consider the risk of applying for and maintaining a loan larger than they could generally support on their own with a group of other people – some of whom were likely strangers when the initial TIC was set up.

Recommended TIC Lenders
As you may know, TIC’s require specialized financing. Below are some TIC lenders that we frequently refer our clients to.

Buyer and Seller Closing Costs
How buyers and sellers in San Francisco split the closing costs pertinent to the sale of real estate is ultimately decided in the purchase contract itself, but this list details how they are typically split in San Francisco County.
The Closing Process
The process of closing in California is asynchronous. It is not all in one day either. So the seller signs at one time, you sign at another, the money is funded by you and by the lender and when the escrow company has everything they “release” the file to record with the county. To flush it all out, the steps look like this…
Property taxes are 1% from the state plus local ad ons from bonds + Mello roos which is another local thing.  In SF they are about 1.14% of value every year and it can fluctuate based on city investments (bond yields) to be as much as 1.18% or as little as 1.12%.  Property taxes can go up as much as 2% per year on the assessed value based on the 1978 Jarvis Gann initiative known as Prop 13, also called rent control for home owners.  
Jennifer’s Analysis of the Daily Stats for San Francisco from the SF Department of Public Health webpage published daily
A bit about Escrow and Title Insurance …
There are many parties involved in buying a home.  You are already familiar with your Realtors (hopefully us!) and your lender if you are buying a home.  When you have a ratified contract on either the buyer or seller side, the next person you will meet is your escrow officer.  Opening escrow is the happiest moment in real estate, other than someone getting a lot of money wired to their bank account or getting the keys.
The below is based on my experience as a real estate practitioner. It is not legal advice and if you are considering renting out an unwarranted space I strongly recommend you ask me for a referral to a qualified real estate attorney. What is unwarranted space? What is an “In-Law” Unit? 

January 2020 changes to San Francisco Rent Control
SF has expanded our rent ordinance to include eviction control for every property. Previously, properties built before 1978 were entirely exempt from the rent ordinance. If you have any situation with a tenant occupied property whether in SF or elsewhere, I urge you to seek legal advice before speaking with your tenants. I am here to provide referrals for this so please reach out.

2019 Statewide Rent Control Ordinance – CAR Quick Guide
What is the Tenant Protection Act (TPA)? Effective 1-1-20, the TPA establishes, throughout all of California, a maximum amount an owner may increase a residential tenant’s rent in a 12-month period. The cap is 5% plus inflation, not to exceed 10%. There are exemptions.

Live/Work Lofts versus Regular Condos
Back in the 90s, some clever developers working with the City came up with a way to build condos with higher density than would have otherwise been allowed, in locations previously not zoned for residential and with a different set of standards than regular condos required.

What is COPA and how will it affect my 3+ unit ownership, sale or purchase?
COPA is another attempt of the City of San Francisco to regulate the free market and prevent units from being converted from rental to owner occupied use.

Why is the value of tenant occupied property in SF so low compared to the rest of the market?
Why is tenant occupied property harder to sell and less valuable than vacant property in San Francisco? There are a few different factors making tenant occupied property less valuable and/or harder to sell.

Sales with Court Confirmation Explained
Some sales state that they are subject to “court confirmation,” or you will see a “1st overbid” price stated. What does this mean?

A few words about equity sharing programs …
Last year, Mark Zuckerberg got a lot of press for his “philanthropic” funding of a company called “Landed” to help “teachers buy houses.* It is a good idea, but it is not philanthropy to co-invest funds with a home buyer in exchange for a portion of their future equity.

Pricing Strategies, Offer Timing and Pre-Emptive Offers FAQ …
In most real estate markets, sellers put their hopeful sale price on a house and wait for a buyer to come along and make an offer. In some of the most active markets, many homes are sold by pricing them just under value by a few thousand dollars to draw attention. But in San Francisco, and some of the most attractive parts of the Bay Area, homes are almost arbitrarily priced far far below value and sellers invite the buyers to compete. Many times this results in the best possible sale price and terms for the home.