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Downtown San Diego is a Highly Specialized Market!
Purchasing a home or investment condo in Downtown San Diego can be a stressful process, but working with a professional that has extensive knowledge of the neighborhood will help reduce the stress. The 92101 market is very complex and prices differ drastically from one neighborhood to the next, as well as from building to building. Not only do you have to worry about finding the right home at a reasonable price, you also need to know what new projects are going in around you, if the building is in litigation, the owner occupancy percentage, and whether or not the homeowner’s association is financially healthy! You need to work with someone that understands the market and can give you honest guidance along the way.
Recommendations To A Smooth Purchase:
- Use An Agent with a Strong Understanding of the Downtown Market: I briefly touched on this above, but it is extremely important to use an agent that has a very good understanding of Downtown’s market and buildings. Each neighborhood and building has it’s own personality. Working with someone who understands that, can save you time and money while finding exactly what you want. I have heard people make comments like, “I looked a year ago, but the agent I was using kept showing me stuff I wasn’t interested in. They must have just wanted to make a sale.” The truth is, they probably showed you stuff that was irrelevant because they didn’t have the knowledge to do otherwise. If you tell me you want views, I will only show you floor plans with views. If you want a loft building, we will be looking in M2i, Parkloft, Doma, Aperture, etc. The part you don’t see, is how long it took me to acquire the knowledge to eliminate all of the irrelevant options.
- Find Someone Who Likes Negotiating and Has the Knowledge to do so: You want someone with strong negotiation skills and the knowledge to back your offer. It is more than just looking at comps. It is the ability to understand why “X” sold for $500,000 while “Y” sold for $550,000. It’s about reading between the lines and coming up with data that tells a story. It isn’t about treating people like the competition, but rather professionally proving your point. Often times, people try to “argue price” which is all wrong. Once there is a sour taste in the seller or listing agents mouth, it is hard to get what you want. Don’t make that mistake. One of my favorite parts of real estate is negotiating. Everyone likes winning and I don’t win until my clients do.
- Before Shopping, Get Approved: There are several reasons this is extremely important. I have worked with several clients who wanted to skip this step. What happens is we are able to find a home that they like and they submit their financials to the lender to prepare to write an offer. The lender calls and says their budget is $100,000 less than the home they like. How did this happen? Banks don’t approve you by what you can “afford”. They look at your financials, take into consideration all of your debt, work, and credit history, and then use the applicable income you can show to determine the max loan amount you qualify for. The key word there is “show”, as it mainly refers to pay stubs and tax returns. If you are self employed, this becomes a tricky process and people often qualify for lower than they expected. Next scenario is we find a home that they love and they want to write an offer. The property has multiple offers, but they can’t submit an offer right away because they are missing their approval letter. They then miss out on the home they liked. This could have been avoided by getting approved up front. The last scenario I will address has to do with work history. Often times, people just start a new job in a field they weren’t in before. They are making good money and want to invest in a home, but what they don’t realize is most lenders require work history in that field. You wouldn’t get surgery without consulting a doctor first. Get approved before looking for a new home.
- Get Pre-Approved with a Lender Who Understands Downtown: If you are obtaining financing, it is equally important that the lender you work with understands the downtown market and the loan process in condominium projects. This is very different from getting a loan on a detached home, as they will also need to qualify the project. They take many factors into consideration, including owner occupancy, financial strength of the homeowners’ association, building insurance, whether or not the community is in litigation, and much more. I often recommend Lisa Coleman with imortgage. She can also do loans in projects with construction defect litigation. Almost 20% of the buildings downtown are currently in construction defect litigation, so using a lender that can’t fund a loan in those buildings will really limit your options.