Buying / Selling Real Estate

Zoning Restrictions

How many people can live in your unit? Can you run your business from home? These questions are answered in part based on the zoning restrictions as they pertain to your property.  Zoning restrictions exist throughout San Francisco and vary greatly by neighborhood.  The buyer of a property is responsible for confirming the applicable zoning restrictions of that property.  Sellers are required however to supply the buyer with copies of reports pertaining to use of property.  Zoning restrictions do change though so every buyer is urged to inquire as to the current restrictions as well as any that are pending.

Transfer Disclosure Statement

Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statements are statements provided by the seller to the buyer that disclose any known problems or pertinent issues pertaining to the property.  They are applicable for property with 1 to 4 dwelling units.  The statement has four sections. One is to identify supplements, one for the seller to complete, one for the broker of the seller to complete, and one for the buyers broker.  

Title Insurance

Generally speaking, title insurance indemnifies the property owner and their lender against loss due to: 1. Recorded Liens, 2. Defects in the Title, and 3. Lack of access to and from the land. The most common policies used by residential property owners are the California Land Title Association (CLTA) standard coverage policy, the American Land Title Association (ALTA) residential policy, and American Land Title Association (ALTA) owner's policy. CLTA policies generally offer the least amount of coverage.  

Title and Deeds

Title refers to the ownership. Deed refers to the actual document noting the ownership.  A deed must be signed over and delivered to a buyer as well as recorded in government records.


State and local law often requires that residential property be retrofitted with various devices in order to bring them “up to code”.  The devices include smoke detectors, water conservation devices, and other safety or environmental protection devices or improvements.  It is customary for the seller to bear these upgrade costs –including new inspections, notifications, and reporting- prior to ownership transfer.