Many home buyers and sellers have questions about the many areas or real estate. Here we attempt to address some of the more common questions. If you have a specific question, we welcome you to call us at (415) 515-0515. We’d be happy to answer any questions.

How does a real estate broker get paid?

Typically, a listing broker gets paid by the seller on an agreed-upon commission. The buyer’s agent signs an agreement with the listing broker representing the seller when an offer is received that splits the commission in a predetermined amount.

Who pays the commission in a “for sale by owner” arrangement?

This is usually negotiated with the seller if she is not a licensed real estate agent. A buyer can also write in her purchase contract that the specified commission amount or percentage shall be paid out of the sales price.  Alternatively, the buyer can pay the real estate agent a commission directly.

Some sellers will pay a variable commission- a certain percent if the agent brings in a certain price, and a bonus or higher percent if the offer is over a certain price.

I’m a first time home buyer. Why can’t I just go online and find a property to buy?

A seller hires a real estate broker and signs a listing agreement, which spells out the broker’s compensation, typically as a percentage of the sales price. The listing broker may or may not represent the buyer in the transaction as well. Typically, the compensation is divided between the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent.

A buyer’s broker is commission-free to the buyer, and focuses on her buyer 24/7. Most buyers have a full time job, and cannot spend the time to do a thorough search.

Typically, desirable properties today have multiple offers. Buyers need to be quick and strategic in how they offer to purchase a home. A good broker is a skilled negotiator in the transaction and can provide winning strategies that a first time buyer may not think to do.

A good buyer’s broker, once she knows what you are looking for, will not waste your time with properties you cannot afford or will not like.

Buyer’s brokers are often aware of properties not on multiple listings (or other online websites) that may be of interest to their buyers.

There are many potential issues with homes that may not be up to code, or have red flag warnings (like dry rot and termite damage) that a real estate agent will be familiar with, and will know the questions to ask.

Reading the many disclosures that may be presented with a seller’s package can be overwhelming and confusing for those who are not familiar with them. A professional realtor helps you navigate between what is important and what is not.

On line sites often have properties on them that have already been sold and/or contain incorrect information, including price and conditions. A realtor checks with the listing agent for accurate and important information of use to the buyer.

There are many good brokers out there. Why should I hire you?

When choosing the right broker, you want someone with experience and knowledge about the area in which you are looking. At Lewellen Fine Homes you are getting two real estate professionals who have represented both buyers and sellers in many transactions, and who have lived and worked in the bay area for over 50 years combined.

As a licensed mortgage broker and bank lender for 30+ years, Nancy Lewellen is well qualified to assist buyers and sellers with financing options, often providing creative solutions to difficult financial situations.

If you are looking to purchase multiple units, many brokers do not have the experience to assist you with the questions revolving around the many aspects of living in a home where you are also renting property to others, or are buying multiple units with a partner or multiple partners. Our realtors have been property owners of multiple homes and apartment buildings, and bring a wealth of experience in knowing what to look for and what to watch out for.

As a licensed and practicing real estate attorney, Nancy Lewellen has the added benefit of being able to help clients with their purchase contracts from a legal perspective, and can offer practical solutions to contract issues.

What is escrow and why do I need it?

Escrow is a procedure by which a neutral third party, usually a title company or escrow company, assists a buyer and seller in their sales transaction by holding the buyer’s deposit and other money in an escrow account according to the terms of the purchase agreement.  They do not release funds to the seller until all the terms of the purchase agreement have been fulfilled.  If the parties decide to end the contract, they hold funds until both buyer and seller agree to whom the money should be released.  They protect buyers from unscrupulous sellers, or sellers from buyers who breach the contract.

What is title insurance and why do I need it?

Title insurance protects the homeowner by insuring that the homeowner has good clear title to the property he/she is buying, and that there are no unknown or unrecorded deeds or liens showing someone else owns the property or has not paid off a loan secured by the property.  Lenders require a specific form of title insurance before they will lend money on a property.  This title insurance will show that the lender has a loan against the property, as well as who is the owner of record title.  Even if you are an all cash buyer, title insurance protects you from unknown or unrecorded liens against your property.

Nancy Lewellen helped us set up financing and was our mediator/attorney who was instrumental in helping us obtain our property from a sour business partnership. She is competent, trustworthy and a fighter for her clients’ rights as a real estate attorney.We found her to be progressive, forward thinking, thorough, and she looks for solutions outside the box. As a real estate agent, we would endorse her wholeheartedly.


Timothy Muhrlin and Lawrence Mortensen


My husband and I recently bought a town house that we were renting. Adriana was our agent, and she helped us negotiate with a very difficult seller. Her perseverance, energy and enthusiasm got the job done. We are very happy.


Paul and Claudia