House Hunting in San Mateo County

Raziel Ungar

Raziel Ungar

November 9th, 2022 - 4 min read

Buying a home is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make, it’s often emotional and time-consuming, and can feel like you just spent a ton of money. In my opinion though, it doesn’t have to be like that: there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be fun.

Having represented hundreds of nice people buying homes over nearly two decades, I’ve figured out what to do to make it a pleasant buying experience for our clients. It’s simple: manage your time effectively and judiciously, be kind, thoughtful and patient, follow your lead, ensure you pay a fair price, and treat your purchase like it was my own.

I developed a three-step system to manage your time efficiently in the beginning.

  1. Once we determine your goals, I combine my deep insider knowledge of the area with a data-driven approach to identify the homes that are right for you. Throughout the home-buying journey, I will guide you every step of the way so that the process is as smooth and seamless as possible.

  1. During our initial consultation, we will discuss your trade-offs and deal breakers while giving you space to decide what feels right for you. We will look at all the factors that are important to you and consider your purchase price range. This will allow us to create a simple model for how likely it is to get what you want in the neighborhoods you are likely excited about. We can then schedule a tour where I take you to view neighborhoods of interest.  

  1. Then we will eliminate the areas that you feel aren’t compelling, and focus on the neighborhoods that you like, even down to certain streets, that may appeal to you. This will help you save a ton of time on the back end. 

A more traditional approach for agents, in the beginning, is to show you a bunch of homes and ask you for feedback to learn your preferences that way. While that can work, my process is much more efficient.

In my experience my clients typically focus on these criteria:

a. Location - city(s)/neighborhood(s)

b. Floor plan

c. Neighborhood feel (tree density, utility lines, cul-de-sacs, etc.)

d. Walkability

e. Privacy

f. School district (if of importance)

g. Size, Sq. Ft., Bedrooms

h. Backyard space (pool, flat, etc.)

i. Condition (recently remodeled, fixer-upper, turn-key)

When you’re ready to see the homes on your interest list, there are various ways to do that.

Private Showings vs Open House: They Both Have a Purpose

In general, we will want to tour homes for sale as soon as they come on the market, either the same day or by the next day, at the latest.

If the home comes on the market on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, let's make arrangements to see it as soon as possible. The sooner we see a home that might be a candidate for purchase, the more relaxing your home-buying experience will be. We can get the disclosure package and begin reviewing it looking for any red flags or things of concern, and have enough time to get the answers we need so you feel comfortable with the condition of the home, and the neighborhood.

If the home comes on the market on a Thursday or Friday, and you're having a crazy day at work, for example, and plan to go see it over the weekend, that's fine. Just give us a heads up that you're going to see the house - the last thing we want is for you to see an awesome home on Sunday and let us know Sunday night that you're super interested as you could feel a little rushed with the offer date potentially coming up very soon. While we will get the ball rolling then, we would rather you give us a heads up once it goes on the market so we can find out when the offer date might be, and get you a disclosure package to start reading through. 

Private Showings

For private showings, we will make an appointment for us to see the home together, outside of public viewing times, like open houses, and twilight open houses (not common, but sometimes on weekday evenings). Most of our clients see homes at private showings, and since we’re typically pretty efficient, we’ll make sure we are only seeing homes that are the most serious candidates. Some homes are vacant and therefore easy to see, but some might be appointment only, so more advance notice is required. Whatever it is, we'll make it work!

Open Houses

Open houses are a great way to see a home on your own. Many of our clients enjoy checking out homes on the weekend as their plans may be up in the air, but you know you'll have time to check it out. The open house may also be an opportunity for you to get a gauge on the interest level in the home, as well as to make a positive impression on the listing agent, should they be holding it open personally. The open house also allows you to have a several-hour window relaxing at the house so you can take your time, rather than at a private appointment where we may have less time due to the seller's schedule or other showings (usually though we can take our time at private showings and not be rushed). 

Broker Tour

Every Tuesday morning we have a broker tour. It is an open house for Realtors®. Generally, I use this time for my general market knowledge, and to see homes that are on the market that I do not have clients interested in. For homes you might be interested in, we'll usually see it ahead of time in a private showing or at an open house. If a home comes on the market on a Monday, a good first time to see it might be during a broker tour if having a several-hour window to visit is convenient for you. Some tours are hosted by the listing agent, and some are on a lockbox (only accessible to Realtors®); if hosted by the listing agent, we can send you by to take a peek, and just mention we sent you by. 

Off-market Properties

You may have heard of the phrase “off market” or “pocket” listings. Almost everything that applies to a property “on market” is the same for “off market”. The only difference is that the seller has chosen not to advertise the property on the Multiple Listings Service which is the main way that real estate agents find available properties for their buyer clients. The seller does this for various reasons but the main one would be that they do not want a lot of attention on the property. In this case, the listing agent would have to spread the word in more discreet ways--word of mouth, Compass Coming Soon, Private Exclusives, Top Agent Network, and personal/broker email lists. All of which we have access to and should consider in your home search.

Getting ready to begin the search for your dream home? Reach out to us to help you get started.

This article is copyrighted by Raziel Ungar and may not be reproduced or copied without express written permission.

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