What you Need to Know About: Agent’s Visual Inspection Disclosure (AVID)

As one of my favorite brokers once joked, an agent visual inspection disclosure (AVID) is a visual inspection that an agent can do in heels. The point being that both individual sales agents in a transaction (the listing agent represent the seller and the selling agent representing the buyer. If it is dual agency, both individuals must still produce their own visual inspection disclosures, if one individual is representing both parties, you would only expect to see one AVID form) are required to perform a visual inspection of the property, but neither is expected to show up in overalls, ready to crawl through crawlspaces or stick their head in attics or in downspouts.

// This post is a part of our series: Your Guide to a San Francisco Disclosure Package. //

The Agent Visual Inspection Disclosure (AVID) is a *property specific* disclosure. Read it as soon as it is available.

AVID - Agent Visual Inspection Disclosure Form
AVID – Agent Visual Inspection Disclosure Form

Here’s the thing to remember about an agent’s visual inspection: We aren’t licensed contractors, which means we aren’t qualified to diagnose what we see. Our job is to note what we see at the property that is unusual or stands out to us – the idea being that since we see lots of homes as part of our job, the things that stand out might be important things for the buyer or seller to be aware of.

That said, at every risk management seminar I’ve ever been to I’ve pretty much heard the same instructions/advice from a variety of real estate attorneys: describe, don’t diagnose. Which means a good AVID will state things like “cracks visible along wall” instead of something like “hairline cracks caused by settling visible along wall.” An agent isn’t typically qualified to diagnose the underlying cause of a visible issue.

It is also important to remember that an agent doesn’t move furniture, look underneath things, move piles of stuff or otherwise try and take apart the home.

An agent’s visual inspection is not a substitute for an inspection by a contractor or other licensed home professional – it is simply a “once-over” list of things that were readily apparent to the agents involved in a residential real estate transaction. It is also important to remember that if you are purchasing/selling a condo home, the AVID does not include any of the common areas – it covers the condo home itself, not the common areas that accompany ownership of the condo.

What You Should Know About: Seller’s Supplement to the Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement

The Seller’s Supplement to the Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement is a local supplement that works in conjunction with the Transfer Disclosure Statement (TDS). It varies by area in California, here in San Francisco we use a local supplement that is created by the San Francisco Association of Realtors.

// This post is a part of our series: Your Guide to a San Francisco Disclosure Package. //

The Seller’s Supplement to the Transfer Disclosure Statement is a *property specific* disclosure. It is designed to be read in conjunction with the Transfer Disclosure Statement (TDS) and we absolutely suggest it as one of the most important documents you review in a disclosure package.

Page 1 of the San Francisco Seller's Supplement to the Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement
Page 1 of the San Francisco Seller’s Supplement to the Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement

Section A of the seller’s supplement to the TDS asks additional questions about the property and neighborhood, and just like the transfer dislcosure statement it consists of a series of “Yes/No/Don’t Know” questions, with space provided for the seller to provide narrative detail when the answer to the question is “yes.”

Section B has additional questions about the property and improvements made to the home, including questions about permit history, animals, deeaths on the property, and other items.

Section C is an area where the seller can list additional home reports that are available. Even when additional reports are available, in San Francisco the seller may or may not remember to list them in this section. The cover page of the disclosure package in San Francisco is the best index you can typically use to keep track of reports provided by the seller.

Section D of the seller’s supplement to the real estate transfer disclosure statement has questions that pertain to homes that are in condominiums, cooperatives, common ownership or neighborhood associations. It contains some general questions, and then also questions that are specific to property type.

Section E is dedicated to the property eviction history, because in San Francisco eviction history can play a key role in helping determine the value or desirability of a home for sale.

Section F is for multi-unit or tenant-occupied properties, and contains additional questions that pertain to local San Francisco landlord/tenant laws.

Section G, the last section of the San Francisco seller’s supplement to the real estate transfer disclosure statement, is a free-form response area that a seller can use to provide any additional comments, notes, or information about the home they are selling.

What questions do you have about this document or SF disclosure packages?


What’s in a Typical San Francisco Disclosure Package?

At some point during the home buying process in San Francisco, you’ll most likely find a home that you like a lot. As in, you like it so much you could see yourself living there! In San Francisco, in strong seller’s markets, most of our property disclosures are provided to buyers prior to their submission of an offer. The disclosures are contained in a “Disclosure Package” which contains all of the various disclosure documents (almost always as a PDF file, when I first started they were paper… tons and tons of paper!). This is what people are talking about when they say they are “asking for disclosures” or are advised to “review disclosures prior to making an offer.”

A sample cover page from a San Francisco disclosure package.
A sample cover page from a San Francisco disclosure package.

The documents that are contained in a disclosure package vary based on the property type (condo, single family, tenancy-in-common), the type of sale (regular sale, short sale, trust sale, probate sale, bankruptcy sale, etc.), and several other variables (the age of the building, for example, affects whether or not some disclosures are required – examples would be lead-based paint and earthquake hazards disclosures). We are going to walk through a typical disclosure package for a single family home in San Francisco, explaining all of the documents as we go along.

To make all of this a little more concrete and a little less hypothetical, we are going to use the disclosure package for a recent listing of ours at 119 Bridgeview in the Silver Terrace neighborhood.

Below is the table of contents for the disclosure package – click on each document to learn more about it (and if the item doesn’t have a hyperlink, the article hasn’t yet been written. This is a work in progress for now!)

Disclosure packages generally start with a table of contents that potential buyers are asked to sign. Depending on the property and agents involved, you may be asked to return the entire disclosure package with your signatures, or just the cover page with an agreement to return a fully executed package upon acceptance of your offer.

For our purposes, I’m going to classify the documents into two categories: Property Specific and General Disclosures. The documents that are property specific are often the *most important* because they contain information that is specific to the property you are interested in. Documents that are general disclosures are still important, but provide more general information that is usually applicable to real estate transactions and may or may not apply to the specific home you are interested in purchasing. While it is important to review all disclosures, if you find yourself with limited time, our advice is to always start with the property specific disclosures.

300 Ivy Welcomes Ground Floor Shops

The commercial/retail spaces at 300 Ivy in Hayes Valley are transforming into bustling bursts of retail activity! Above the 63 homes of 300 Ivy are three retail/commercial spaces. Two of them are already occupied, with the corner location currently empty as of this writing (August 2014).

The restaurant space is home to Monsieur Benjamin by James-Beard-award-winning Chef Corey Lee. The restaurant describes itself as, “a modern restaurant and bar in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley that is inspired by the great Parisian bistro culture and traditions of French cooking.” As noted by Food and Wine, “Monsieur Benjamin will stay open till 1 a.m., serving the kind of food that a chef rigorously trained in the French system, like Lee, might cook for friends on his night off.”

Immediately next door to Monsieur Benjamin is the made-to-measure men’s clothing shop of  Klein, Epstein, & Parker. The menswear boutique offers, “high-quality made-to-measure fashion items like jackets, pants, suits and shirts. Personalized fashion that looks AND feels great.” towards a vision where they “democratize made-to-measure fashion! Liberate men, giving them a chance to wear what they want and look and feel great. Escape the horror of pre-canned, off the rack, over-priced and mass-produced “stuff”.”

What are your thoughts about these two new additions to Hayes Valley? Have you had a chance to eat at Monsieur Benjamin yet or pick yourself up some snazzy threads from Klein, Epstein & Parker (which sounds more like a law firm than a clothing store?!)? We’d love to hear your thoughts, or any scoop you have about the final initial retail tenant. Leave us a comment or get in touch via FaceBook or Twitter.

Say My Name! (with SF Street Signs)

I have to admit that I’ve been burning up with jealously lately. Why? I can sum it up with a quick picture:

Can you spell your name with San Francisco street signs?

The street sign at the intersection of Visitacion and Britton is located in Visitacion Valley (no surprise there, right?) and the street sign at the intersection of Jackson and Cherry is located in Presidio Heights.

I can’t spell my name with San Francisco streets – as far as I know, there is no Fuller street in San Francisco, nor is there a Matthew or a Matt street either. The Jackson/Cherry sign was the inspiration for my photoshop project from 2011 where I created the Jackson/Fuller street sign by photoshopping out the Cherry (I picked the sign since it had the same number of letters as my last name) and replacing it with my own.

So there’s your Friday morning I’m-not-yet-ready-and-don’t-feel-like-working distraction! Have a great weekend, and if you can spell your name with SF street signs, let us know in the comments what neighborhoods we’d be likely to find your name in.

And for the record, no, we don’t have a new team member named Visitacion Cherry.

Climate Change and SF Housing

A tip of the hat to the fine folks at The Verge for their catch of a Washington Post article about how climate change is affecting homes in Chicago. It finally motivated me to get some thoughts down on paper about climate change in SF.

Climate Change affects housing in Chicago
Climate Change affects housing in Chicago

This summer I’ve been watching the Years of Living Dangerously on Showtime with my family, and in a nutshell the show is about the fact that climate change is happening now and is already impacting the world. The days of climate change being on “the horizon” are gone, and we are now living in a world where human activities have impacted the climate on a global scale.

It isn’t if.

It isn’t when.

It is now.

What can we expect in San Francisco because of climate change? Is the current drought we are in the “new normal” or will more extreme cycles of wet/dry be the norm? After several dry years, if we were to have a wet year how many homes would be ready for the sudden arrival of copious quantities of rain? How many recent home buyers would have flooding they didn’t expect?

Will climate change make SF cooler in the summer (because our marine layer of cool air is driven by hot air rising in the central valley of California)? Or, will our average temperature go up? Will climate change bring new pests that will start to eat our homes or lawns that weren’t previously an issue in San Francisco? When sea level rises, will SF be ready, or will low lying neighborhoods find themselves slowly submerged?

Climate change is real. How do you think it will impact San Francisco homes?