Tips for Home Buyers & Sellers

Buying and selling a home are both important decisions and require different requirements. Below are helpful tips for both buyers and sellers to help you prepare for what lies ahead in your search for, or sale of, your home.


Whether you are looking to buy a condominium in San Francisco, a quirky home in Marin County or something in between, there are some basic things you can and should do to increase your odds of success.

  • The first step... get pre-approved. Looking for a home is futile unless you know how much you can afford and what kind of a financial offer you can make. Find a credible lender/mortgage broker, preferably a local/Marin-savvy resource. Your credibility as a buyer depends on it.
  • Do not make any large purchases six months prior or during your purchase as it will affect your FICO score when acquiring a loan.
  • Don't be afraid to shop for homes in the winter; some of the best deals happen around the holidays marked by less competition searching for a home, and motivated sellers who are eager to move on. You might also find that vendors are less expensive and have more time to assist in moving, inspections, and getting things done around the house.
  • Write a wish list for your home -- location, style, amenities, bedrooms/baths and type yard you desire, and price point.
  • Find an online resource that will allow you to search for homes in your area; most realtors have a service for you to use that will allow them to follow along with your search. We use RealScout which is awesome, so if you want to get signed-on, just let me know. Set up your search criteria, save your favorites, and visit daily. Today's buyers are very tech savvy and the good homes move fast, so be nimble and be prepared!
  • Don't over commit yourself -- it is prudent to have some dollars left over after the sale in case of emergency or for unexpected repairs.  We suggest a home warranty for all sales, just in case. You might even get the Seller to throw that in as part of the sale -- a great insurance policy for them as well.
  • Be prepared to write your strongest and best offer... don't be afraid to write offers often if you need to.   
  • Decide if you're buying a home or just looking for a home. You have to be "in it to win it" and passivity in this market just doesn't cut it.
  • Know your key non-negotiables, as well as where you can be flexible (what do you need versus what do you want?).
  • Realize that there are no "perfect" homes. Many may come close, but really identify your top three to four buying criteria as "must haves" and realize your other five to six criteria really need to be viewed as secondary.
  • Work with an agent who has your best interests at heart; you'll be able to tell quickly.


As for sellers, it is equally important that you understand and are ready for the listing process. The below are tips to guide you through what to expect as well as what to do when selling your residence.

  • Really understand what your goals are up front and work with an agent who can help you strategize about your game plan to achieve those goals. Do you need to move quickly? Downsize? Upsize? Are you emotionally ready to move on? All important questions to ask yourself.
  • Be smart about the prep work you do…don't overspend on items that won't provide a solid financial return. Repair, paint and refresh your home. Kitchens, bathrooms and improved curb appeal are your best bets for a quick spruce up!
  • Have a home/pest inspection prior to putting on market and take care of anything outstanding; you don't want to leave any room for further negotiation after you've accepted an offer. If it's all out there and the buyer knows up front, that's what they'll make their offer based upon.
  • Be realistic with your timelines and expectations. It could take as much as six months to a year to prep your home for sale, so work with your agent to build a timeline and adhere to deadlines. 
  • Don't expect your home to sell immediately! Yes, it's a hot market with low inventory, but buyers are being more cautious and are no longer willing to pay for more and get less. In today's market it's not uncommon for a property that is not completely turn-key to sit on the market longer -- sometimes buyers just need to wrap their heads around the home you've known intimately for years.
  • Don't be greedy; understand the ebbs and flows of the market when pricing. Tour with your agent in your neighborhood to learn market, so that you can price your property fairly. Overpricing could lead to ultimately getting a lower price for your property in the long run.
  • Simplify or declutter prior to putting on market; better yet, hire a professional stager to create a look that excites and thrills buyers. First impressions are critical, and if you can create an emotional bond with a prospective buyer right away, you're one step closer to selling your home!
  • Make sure your photographer captures the best aspects of your home and brings your property to life. In this age of online home shopping, if your photos aren't really strong, the buyer will move on to the next listing, and may never revisit! 
  • While most people are searching online these days, it's also important to have your home available for showings. Open houses are great, but also don't hesitate to allow your realtor to invite the neighbors in. Let them host a neighborhood preview before you bring your house on the market. Twilight tours also work well for those who can't view the property during the day.
  • Take the emotion out of it. You've made the decision to move on, so the sooner you can emotionally detach from the way the house looks the better. I know it's a tall order, but think of it more as a transaction vs. a home full of memories. Easier said than done, I know, but it is, after all, time to move on!

Whether you are buying selling or investing, The Costa Group provides extraordinary service to elevate your life and bring you home.