The very first thing you should do when you are ready to seriously start your home search is to reach out to a trusted and well known loan agent (or two) to begin the formal pre-approval/full credit approval process. It’s important to work with a lender who is known in the local marketplace, has a track record of delivering on their contractual timelines, and regularly closes real estate loans in San Francisco and/or Marin County. Ideally, you want to work with a lender/financing institution that has a brick and mortar location in San Francisco or Marin. Out of town lenders who are not known in the local marketplace and who can’t compete on contractual timelines (finance contingency or close of escrow timelines that are the norm in our marketplace) will not put you in the most competitive position, especially when you are competing with other buyers.

Once your pre-approval/full credit approval process is complete, you will have certainty about your purchasing power, and that will inform our real estate search, both in terms of price points and product types. Additionally, it is standard practice in San Francisco and Marin to submit your pre-approval/full credit lender approval letter with your offer; this demonstrates to the seller that you are not just a serious buyer ready to move forward and close escrow, but that you are also a qualified buyer. We are happy to assist you with lender recommendations.

It is standard practice in San Francisco and Marin that the minimum down payment is 20% of the final sale price. However, our market is very competitive and it’s not unusual for buyers to put down more than 20% (especially when competing with other buyers, including those writing all-cash offers). With that said, Salma & Company has a proven track record of representing buyers who write winning offers with 20% down, beating out other buyers coming in with higher down payments. We’re here to advise you on how to formulate a winning offer.

We will open escrow and ensure your earnest money deposit is made within three days – though most deposits are placed in the escrow account within 24 hours (a great way to start the escrow process, as it shows motivation and good faith). Next we work through any contingencies (inspections, appraisals, financing conditions) and keep you abreast of everything that is happening. If there is a new material fact about the property discovered once escrow is in process, we present this information immediately and strategize about next steps (likely to include a renegotiation of the escrow).

In addition to the purchase price of the home, you will also pay lender fees (usually the greatest percentage of your closing costs), as well as escrow fees, property insurance, property taxes and – if you decide to do your own due diligence inspections (contractor’s inspection, termite inspection, etc.) – inspection fees. The seller, not the buyer, pays real estate commissions.

Property taxes are calculated by multiplying the assessed value of the property by the real property tax rate for the county in which the property is located. For example, the secured property tax rate in San Francisco for Fiscal Year 2022-23 is 1.1797%. The assessed value is initially set at the purchase price and the tax rate changes annually. Since 1978, when Proposition 13 amended the California state constitution, homes’ assessed value can increase up to 2% per year.

In addition to secured property taxes, there may also be special assessment taxes owed. The special assessment tax amount is dependent on the property and is usually a much smaller amount than the secured property tax bill.

The State of California property tax year is July 1 through June 30. The property tax collected by each county is payable in two installments. The first installment is due on November 1 (and considered delinquent on December 10), and includes taxes owed from July 1 through December 31. The second installment is due on February 1 (and considered delinquent on April 10), and includes taxes owed from January 1 through June 30.


SF Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) – Water & Sewer
(415) 551-3000

Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) – Power Utility
(800) 743-5000

Recology – Refuse & Recycling

  • San Francisco customers are serviced by three companies:
  • Recology Sunset Scavenger
  • Recology Golden Gate
  • Recology San Francisco

Call (415) 330-1300 to start service and sign up with the company that services your neighborhood area.

Telephone, Cable & Internet Services (Residential)


Marin Municipal Water District – Water & Sewer
220 Nellen Avenue, Corte Madera, CA 94925

Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) – Power Utility
(800) 743-5000

Marin Clean Energy (MCE) – Energy Utility
(888) 632-3674

Marin Sanitary Service – Refuse & Recycling
(415) 456-2601

San Francisco Planning Department

San Francisco Department of Building Inspection

San Francisco Records Management Division

San Francisco Office of the Assessor-Recorder

San Francisco Rent Board

Marin County Planning Department

Marin County Building Inspections

Marin County Assessor-Recorder-County Clerk

S.F. Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA)

Residential Parking Permits (Residential & Commercial) and Other Transit Authority Needs

San Francisco Unified School District

Marin County Schools – Public & Private

Great Schools – School Ratings