My husband and I started to look for a house a few months before leaving Italy.
We got in contact with a Realtor who asked us a lot of questions on what we were looking for: from price range, to room number, to schools needed. She also provided us with a complete list of the documents needed and supported us all through the process; and all for free, as Realtors are paid by the seller, once the agreement is reached. In this article, I`m only going to describe the way we got to choose our house. The complete financial and bureaucratic procedures to purchase it will be explained in the second part of this blog, stay tuned.
As in every other part of the world, house prices in Silicon Valley vary a lot from one area to another, and they keep increasing every day. It is important to know that prices are greatly influenced by the local school district: all American public schools are rated, and the higher the school level, the more expensive the area. This means that if you are interested in having good schools for your children, you are supposed to get a house in an area with all high-rated schools: it may happen, in fact, that the school you choose is full and your child will be enrolled in a neighboring institute. It took us several months to really understand this point: at first, we were only looking for houses we liked and we could afford. And when we showed them to our Realtor, she kept saying: “no way!!”
We were given a list of good school districts and we started to visit them all: some areas looked too manicured for our European style (the kind of “everything-is-so-perfect” neighborhoods!), while some others were too far from my husband`s workplace. Some others were simply too expensive! We finally found a house in a canyon, a cottage-like house with a beautiful view.
Due to the huge request, houses are sold through a blind auction: prospective buyers present their offers and the sellers, supported by their own relator, make the final decision. Offers are often much higher than the base price, never lower. Once the offer is accepted, the buyer has 15 days to give a deeper look at the house, make all necessary controls and then decide whether or not to confirm the offer. In order not to lose time and money, some sellers may decide to accept a lower offer but from people who can prove to be really interested in the house. Your Realtor may suggest you to attend all open house days, meet and talk to the seller and to the seller`s Realtor, even write a letter describing your deep and sincere interest in their property.
Except for the letter, we actually went through all those steps. And we actually managed to buy the first house we liked at the price we offered, even if most people take months, even years, before they can get what they want!
Not ready to buy a house but still looking for a place to stay? Check out our blog on finding an apartment.