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I was working with a couple, both young hi-tech execs, who had been renting in San Francisco for some time.

They found a property, as many of my clients do, through the accurate and up-to-the-minute online listing report I generate. It comes from a subscription-only service I use to save my clients time and give them an edge in the market.

The couple discovered a 2-story building across from a newly renovated park, and I agreed that it was a home with endless possibilities. It could be configured as a duplex or a 4-bedroom home, and had a nice yard and balcony.

Unfortunately, there were two big obstacles:

  • A tenant in a rear room of the building
  • Lack of documentation on a major foundation repair

A bit of detective work
The seller claimed the City of San Francisco had replaced his building’s foundation, but he could not produce evidence to back up the claim. He said the repair came after a City crew damaged his foundation during seismic retrofitting in his Mission District neighborhood. Sounded reasonable, but we needed details.

I went to the Public Works and Building Department offices for confirmation. I found nothing. Not willing to leave my clients in the dark, I called in an engineer and a contractor to check into the condition of the home and foundation. We also needed to confirm the feasibility of some upgrades and their related costs.

The news was good. Evidence showed the foundation had been partially replaced, bearing out the seller’s story. And the engineer gave the structure a thumb’s up, saying it had a lot of structural integrity. The buyers could make the renovations they wanted because the “chassis” of the building would support it.

Solving the tenant complication
I advised the buyers to move ahead carefully, as we couldn’t tell if the home would be delivered vacant or whether the unit was even legal. No estoppel or lease documentation was provided.

But the tech couple had their hearts set on the house. So we made an offer conditional on the seller guaranteeing the tenant would vacate before the new owners got the keys. The seller agreed and that’s exactly how it happened.

Information is power
If seller doesn’t provide the information you need, you have to sleuth it out. Enlist the right pros so you don’t put yourself at risk for costly surprises. If there’s a detail you’re uncomfortable with, put the responsibility on the seller and their agent to supply the answer.

Because the market has been so competitive, buyers sometimes feel they’re asking too much when they pose hard questions. But really, to make one of the largest purchases of your life, you have to ask everything.

Homebuying made easy
The most direct way to find a home is through my online subscription of very current listings. I give you the login, and while you’re doing the initial legwork, I stay out of your way. You can call or email me questions any time — about a property’s value, lifestyle appropriateness and potential. When we settle on a winner, I work on negotiating a smart deal for you.

Ready to find your home? Let me help.