[This is part of a series of posts on the home buying process I'm going thru. To see the full set, visit the house category archives.]
Over the last several weeks I've spent quite a bit of time on-line looking at the Bay Area housing market. Looking at MLS listings, realtor sites, craigslist, and so on. I've been in touch with a few sellers.
There are a few things I've learned so far:
- Many town house and condo properties are For Sale By Owner (FSBO) rather than being brokered thru an agent. I'm really not sure why that is. Anyone know?
- The market is pretty dynamic. I've contacted a few sellers with the intent of going to visit their home, only to find that it had 4 bids just a day or two later. Keeping track of this requires a lot of time.
- There's a wide variety of posts. On craigslist, for example, many folks post very basic ads which leave out critical details (how many square feet?!) and don't bother with pictures. I find it difficult to get interested in those.
Several folks had advised me to try doing this without a realtor. As much as I'd like to be able to chop a few percentage points of the home price, I don't think I can do an adequate job of finding properties quickly, making arrangements to visit them, and then following thru on all the details I'd need to. Plus, there are a lot of documents and considerations that I don't know about and would have to learn somehow--like reading How to Buy a House in California and The Complete Guide to Your Real Estate Closing.
Also, the realtor I used back in Ohio to buy and then sell my house was very, very helpful. I could have done it myself, but it would have required a lot more planning, time, and learning on my part. I have less time for that now than I did then.
With that in mind, I began trying to find a good way to locate a realtor with expertise in the areas in or near where I'm thinking of living. After a few moments, I remembered that this has come up several times on our "for sale" e-mail list at work. And since I archive most of the interesting stuff there, I was able to quickly locate the recommendations. I've since made a few contacts and will link to my realtor's web site after I'm sure that it's going to work out.
I could have shot blindly, but using recommendations is, in my mind, a much better way to narrow down the field. The only wrinkle was finding how much specialization there is out here. While they all claim to deal with the general Silicon Valley area, each seems to have a clear bias toward particular areas. Some were Palo Alto, Los Altos, and Mountain View. Others were East Bay only. Still others focus on the peninsula.
So I ended up finding someone who focuses on San Jose and many of the surrounding areas. My next task is to clearly explain the things that are "musts" and "nice to haves" in the sort of property I'd like to buy: number of rooms, garage, locations, etc. (Some of them are listed here.)
Posted by jzawodn at January 09, 2004 08:51 AM