Intero Real Estate Services
Sophia Delacotte
Realtor in San Jose




Tips for International Home Buyers and Real Estate Investors

How to Buy a Home in Silicon Valley When Living Abroad


We live in the mobile age: we do most of what we used to do with our phone from taking picture to recording video, finding our way while driving or walking, shopping, finding the right home and even a job!

Being mobile is also a requirement for most employees and employers today, probably a truer statement than everywhere else in Silicon Valley in the Bay Area.

Over the past few years, I have had the pleasure and the privilege to help relocate international executives for some of the top Silicon Valley companies and assist them in their search for their dream homes in Silicon Valley.

I thought I would share my experience with those of you still abroad but who are considering a job in Silicon Valley and might be interested to know more about the intricacies of buying a home in Silicon Valley from abroad.

Note that this blog is not meant to be exhaustive but to provide tips and answers to the most frequently asked questions about buying a home in Silicon Valley from abroad.

FAQ #1: How To Make an Offer for a Home

When buying a home in Silicon Valley, pretty much like anywhere else in the world, you will need to put an offer in writing on the property. For that purpose you will sign a Residential Purchase Agreement defining your rights and duties to the sellers and vice-versa.

Your Realtor will be responsible for presenting the offer to the seller's agent (aka the listing agent) along with the following documents:

  • The Disclosure about the Real Estate Agency Relationship stating who your real estate agent is;
  • The Proof of Funds for the initial down payment (aka the initial deposit)
  • A Pre-Approval Letter from your lender(s) if you are financing your acquisition with a loan.

These documents are required to prove that you are first and foremost a “ready, willing, and able” home buyer.

FAQ: #2 : What to Do if Your Offer is Accepted

Once the purchase offer presented by your Real Estate Agent is accepted, here are some important steps not to miss if you want your offer to go through, minimize your liability to be at risk and/or cancel the contract if necessary.

Step #1 : Determination of the date of the Close of Escrow

The date of the close of escrow (aka COE) is the date on which the property will be legally transferred in your name by being recorded in the State public records.

If you finance the acquisition of your home with a loan, the COE usually take place within 30 to 45 days maximum after the acceptance of your offer.

If you pay cash, the COE can take place as soon as 15 days after acceptance of your purchase offer.

Step #2:  Payment of Initial Deposit

You should know that you do not need to open a bank account in the US to buy a home in San Jose or anywhere else in Silicon Valley, even from abroad.

For the payment of the initial deposit, you just need to wire the funds directly onto the account of the title company chosen by the sellers within 3 days after acceptance of your offer.

The title company will provide you with international wiring instructions in order to transfer legally the money from your country to the US. Typically, the initial deposit equates to about 3% of the total amount of the purchase price.

Step# 3: Removal of Contingencies

A contingency is a provision in a real estate contract that specifies that the contract would cease to exist upon the occurrence of certain events.

There are 3 types of contingencies in the Californian Residential Purchase Contract, namely the property, loan and appraisal contingencies.

  • The "Property contingency is to be lifted by the buyer within a maximum of 17 days of the acceptance of the purchase offer. In practice, the removal of this contingency is usually made between 7 and 10 days after acceptance of the offer.  During this period of time you are able to conduct any investigation you want in order to assess the physical condition of the property. The most common inspections include pest inspection, roof inspection, general inspection, the chimney and pool inspection if applicable. If as the result of these investigations you discover issues that you want to be addressed before to close escrow, you can either ask the sellers to pay for the repairs (unlikely to happen if buying  a short sale or a a foreclosure) or bail out of the transaction without losing your initial deposit.

  • Both "Loan" and Appraisal" contingencies must be removed within a maximum of 17 days after acceptance of your offer. To remove these contingencies your lender will have to confirm that the loan will be granted (aka final loan approval) and that the amount you intend to borrow to purchase the property is justified based on the bank's appraiser report.

Remember that these 3 contingencies are your only way out to the contract.

You should also be aware that you will need to notify the cancellation of the contract to the seller(s) before the expiration of their deadline. If you don't, you are at risk to lose your initial deposit.

Step #4: Final Signing and Payment of the Balance of Purchase Price

Once all the contingencies have been removed by the buyers and all disclosures pertaining to the property have been signed by both parties, buyers and sellers will sign the final documents at the place of business of the title company.

If you are unable to attend the signing in person, you will need to go to the nearest US Consulate and/or Embassy in order to have a specific Power of Attorney (PoA) notarized by a US representative in your country. The PoA will allow a third party to sign the final documents on your behalf.

It is highly recommended that at least one of the buyers be present in person at the final signing.

The balance of the purchase price will need to be wired directly onto the account of the title company at the latest 3-5 days before the scheduled date of the Close of Escrow, either by the lender or by the buyer when the property is paid in cash.

FAQ #4 : How should I correspond with my US Realtor / Agent ?

The first step is to have an initial conversation with your Real Estate Agent over the phone or in person if possible.

Topics I would be looking to address during this initial conversation include among other things:

  • required or nice to have features of your dream home,
  • differences between buying a single family home, a condo, a townhouse or a multi  residential family home,
  • differences between buying a short sale, a regular sale or a Real Estate Owned home (aka bank-owned homes)
  • being pre-approved vs. pre-qualified,
  • trends of the real estate market in your area of interest in Silicon Valley,
  • recommended search strategy,
  • resale value of your property.

With answers to the above mentioned questions, I will be able to initiate a customized home search and share relevant properties that fit your criteria on a daily basis.

I will also provide you with a simulation of buying costs as well as information regarding the different ways to acquire title in Silicon Valley.

Finally, please bear in mind that all tax implications of your real estate investment(s) should be assessed by your personal tax advisor in your country and/or a local Certified Public Accountant with experience in international real estate transactions.  You may also want to hire the services of a local Silicon Valley attorney to understand legal implications of purchasing real estate in the US.

I look forward to assisting you with your relocation and any of your real estate needs in Silicon Valley in the Bay Area.

Do not hesitate to contact me or call me (+1 408 717 2575) should you require any additional information about the home buying process in the Bay Area.


What my clients are saying  

Sophia Delacotte is an outstanding real estate professional. She brings great understanding of her clients' needs, diligence, and taste. I highly recommend Sophia for any endeavor within her scope of expertise.


~ Michel R.

Sophia has gone above and beyond in regards to helping my wife and I find a new home for our expanding family. She is very informative in all aspects of buying a home! I highly recommend her!


~ Josh M.

Working with Sophia was a great experience. She is not only a trustworthy person, but she also always had my best interest in mind. She showed me various condos and explained the pros and cons of all properties which made my decision to choose the right condo easier. She constantly followed up with all the parties involved to make sure the home buying process went smoothly. This is evidenced by the fact that we closed right on time! She even made sure all the repairs were completed to my condo before I moved in. I would recommend Sophia to anyone who wants a realtor that will fight for them every step of the way.


~ Sean M.

I worked with Sophia Delacotte several times of the last 18 months. She sold my home with suave and suggested some another great agents remotely for my relocation. There was: honest and frequent communication; clear expectations; and fairer than average rates from the start; no sandbagging; a watchful eye and excellent management of all aspects of the process and contracts. Other realtors in the last decade had really left me with a negative opinion of agents, but Sophia made a name for herself and removed my bias. I'm also glad for Sophia's eagle-eye for legal trouble, so when it came to here recommendations for covering ourselves, I followed them without hesitation. Suggestions on what needed fixed, and encouragement for transparent disclosures is important in California. Buying and/or selling a home can stressful, but it was fun with Sophia for myself and my family


~ Kyle B

Sophia Delacotte is thorough, knowledgeable, and helpful. She assisted me with the sale of my townhouse in San Jose. It sold after one open house, and I received multiple offers. Sophia screened all of the offers and recommended the offers which would close with the least amount of hassles or surprises. She is extremely knowledgeable about the real estate market. With her legal background, she is a strong and effective advocate for your side of the transaction. Sophia always kept me in the loop, was clear with what she needed, and the timing of the response to what she needed. She is a pleasure to work with, responsive, and committed to making the entire process go as smoothly as possible. I highly recommend Sophia and would definitely work with her again in the future.


~ Bonnie B.

Sophia has been very professional throughout the process of my house purchase. She was very patient as I was quite particular about what I want with the budget I have. Sophia was also very helpful and very knowledgeable. She is a very good realtor.


~ Jackson T.

When we met Sophia for the first time, on a Sunday afternoon, we were immediately struck by her professionalism and competence. With skill and patience, she navigated us through the complex and confusing steps of getting pre-approved for a loan, viewing the house, putting down an offer, and learning when to walk away. As first-time home owners, we were nervous and uncertain. Sophia gave us invaluable advice and encouragement during the ups and downs, and her knowledge of the real estate business and housing market always led us in the right direction. One of our favorite things about having her as our agent was that she made herself constantly available. She met with us every weekend for three months to check out houses we liked, and she was always savvy about the state of the house and what might appear on the disclosures. She struck the perfect balance between giving advice and allowing us to form an opinion ourselves.


~ Maria J.

Sophia was a dream to work with. She handled a very difficult short sale for my wife and I. Without her help we would have been lost. She was a great negotiator and partnered with us to help explain every piece of paper that we had to sign as well as assisting us gather proper documents an information all the parties needed. I can't recommend her more highly.


~ Nate M.

Sophia helped my wife and I during our house search this summer. She was incredibly diligent, honest and forthright. Unlike a typical agent she actually advised us against couple of houses due to issues she discovered in the disclosures (she reads every word). As first time buyers we were easily seduced by appearances but Sophia kept us grounded! Definitely look forward to working with her again and would definitely recommend her services to friends.


~ Sarang R.

Sophia has a sign in her office which reads "tenacity" which describes her commitment to her clients and her ability to follow through on a transaction. She's a great (full time!) agent to work with, and as a first time home buyer. I can't express how important it was to have her by our side to help us every step of the way. She's straight-forward (former lawyer), and french (former Parisian city girl), which only adds to her charm. Beyond her great work ethic, she conducts herself by the book with an uncommonly high degree of professionalism. Sophia will look out for your interests, and protect your privacy. While I'm happy to have a home (thanks Sophia!), my wife and I will miss having her as our agent.


~ Stephen R.

I am so thrilled that I chose Sophia Delacotte to handle the sale of my condo. Having had my first sale fall through two years ago at the fault of my realtor and title company, I was very nervous about going through the process again.Sophia’s confidence and ability was unwavering. She is very thorough and detailed, and her great follow-through skills assured me that nothing would slip by unnoticed.Everything went smoothly with the sale, even with my many unconventional secondary loans. Escrow closed on time, and I received my funds quickly. I would recommend Sophia to anyone buying or selling a home.


~ Radel S.

I was a first time home buyer in the US market, and Sophia has been fantastic helping me understand the whole process. I am so glad I hired her as my agent. She made every step go really smoothly and I have now found my dream house in the Bay area! She has been very responsive and quick to react when I needed offers to be put together. I strongly recommend Sophia for a Bay area acquisition, especially for non US citizens who are not familiar with local practices.


~ Sylvie B.

Sophia Delacotte is thorough, knowledgeable, and helpful. She assisted me with the sale of my condo. The condo sold after one open house, and I received multiple offers. Sophia screened all of the offers and recommended the offers which would close with the least amount of hassles or surprises. She is extremely knowledgeable about the real estate market. With her legal background, she is a strong and effective advocate for your side of the transaction. Sophia always kept me in the loop, was clear with what she needed, and the timing of the response to what she needed. She is a pleasure to work with, responsive, and committed to making the entire process go as smoothly as possible. I highly recommend Sophia and would definitely work with her again in the future.


~ Laurie O

I had to sell my house fairly quickly because of a move and imminent wedding. Sophia proved to be the best choice I could have made. She was extremely resourceful and guided me expertly through paperwork and expectations. The house sold after only two open houses, and we received multiple offers. I was also very satisfied with the price obtained. In addition, she made the whole process as painless as can be. Sophia provided very solid support, and her legal background was very helpful to navigate the documents required. I was glad she was on my side! I highly recommend Sophia Delacotte as your real estate agent.


~ Yves E.

It was wonderful having Sophia help my mother sell her house. She went above and beyond our expectations, and was very patient when addressing my mother’s concerns, making the process as smooth as possible. The house sold on the first open house, and we received multiple offers. Sophia screened all offers to make sure the one we chose would close without any surprises. I highly recommend Sophia to anyone needing a great realtor.


~ Phil R.

We used Sophia again this Spring as we had to move to reduce my commute. Sophia not only helped us to sell our house in record time but also was very diligent in managing the multiple offers market - she carefully analyzed all the options and helped us dot the i's and cross the t's with choosing the right offer and family. When it came to finding our new home Sophia pulled out all the stops to ensure we got the home we wanted. Sophia built a strong relationship with the selling agent and ensured that our interests were protected. Staying up late into the night negotiating she secured the home we were looking for. Sophia also advised us throughout the process and made sure we did not just settle on any home - someone we can rely on with strong values a great work ethic and her customers interests being number 1.


~ Amin D.

We have Sophia as our realtor for close to 3 years and think she is really awesome. She makes it a point to understand our needs and gives us good advice on the market swings and how to offer on the properties that we were interested in. She doesn't push us and respect our thoughts and looks out for us. She always makes time to see us even if it is at the very last minute and helps us through the whole process from inspecting the house and seeing if it fits our needs and personality, to thoroughly asking the buyer's realtor and being absolutely professional in giving a good image to the seller and his/her agent. We bought our new home in 2014. Sophia stayed with us throughout the whole process till escrow was completed and was always still available to help us after.She is well connected and referred us to a great loan agent who gave us the best interest rate and helped us close in 14 days. We will definitely ask her to assist us again if we are going to buy or sell in the future.


~ Stan A.

Sophia is the kind of person who makes your house dream come true. That was our case. Sophia listens to you and suggests places that work for you. She tailors time and resources for your special needs. Since we met her the house hunting was accurate and in a few weeks we were able to bid and get our dream house. After many years of house ownership, my wife and I feel very lucky we met her.


~ Angelo M.

It's really hard to find an agent who is looking out for you and your needs. Sophia cares for her clients deeply and understands what we want. She will go above and beyond to assist us in meeting the deadlines and helps us with understanding the intricacies of offering and the market trends.


~ Surt A.

Sophia Delacotte was the selling agent for our home in San Jose, California in September 2013. We were in contract for the sale in about three weeks. Sophia was a consummate professional from our first meeting, to our open house and through to our move out of state. She is extremely knowledgeable about the real estate market and, with her legal background, a strong and effective advocate for your side of the transaction. She is also a pleasure to work with, very responsive and is committed to making the entire process as stress free as possible. I highly recommend Sophia as an agent who is head and shoulders above most others in the profession. I feel we were fortunate indeed to have had her as our agent.


~ Kathy D.

Because of Sophia's clever strategy we made our offer sight unseen. We are now the proud owners of a Condominium. Because of her tireless efforts she made the whole process seamless. Thank you Sophia for all your hard work!!


~ Margie A

Sophia made my short sale purchase as easy as it could be. Honest, tough, does what you ask. I was very pleased. She Made sure I had all the right inspections to protect myself.


~ Paul B.

As a mortgage originator for over 15 years, I have worked with hundreds of real estate professionals. Sophia is actively involved with the purchase from the time of pre-approval to closing. However, it does not end there. She maintains a business relationship with her clients and is there to assist with any needs from service providers to home information. Her clients are her priority and they are fortunate to have such a fine professional representing them.


~ Camille D.

Great advice , incredibly efficient! Sophia successfully guided us to buy a house in a very competitive market, and helped manage the transaction every step of the way. You'll want her on your side!


~ Caroline M.

I have found Sophia to be a thorough, ethical, and extremely competent real estate professional. Her knowledge of this challenging real estate market and her passion to advocate for her clients is remarkable. I have worked with many realtors and I count Sophia at the very top of her profession. I have complete confidence that if you are looking for a no-nonsense real estate professional, you will find one in Sophia Delacotte.


~ Marc A.

Sophia is the most honest, ethical and loyal realtor I have ever worked with. To this day, I remember her telling me that if the sale wasn't in my best interest, she wouldn't feel comfortable representing me. It was very refreshing to know that the client's best interest was her foremost concern. She stands by her clients from the beginning of the process until the ink is dry on the final document, and follows up after the sale to ensure no hidden obstacles have emerged. She is diligent in her efforts to manage the process of a home sale with all parties involved. She keeps her clients informed every step of the way and works tirelessly to forge a positive outcome. Sophia is also like a member of the family. She displays a true and genuine concern for the welfare of her clients and displays this not merely through words but through her actions. Without hesitation I would recommend her to anyone in need of a realtor that is transparent, ethical, and a true professional.


~ Greg Z.

Sophia is very thorough, knowledgeable and helpful. The short Sale process is confusing and worrisome but Sophia was able to help me navigate the paperwork, deadlines and legal jargon. She was respectful, responsive and most importantly, she delivered results! I recommend her.


~ Ann A.

I will relocate with my family from Europe to Silicon Valley in summer 2012. Early in my quest to find a home, I was very fortunate to identify and work with Sophia Delacotte, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker in Almaden San Jose. Her help has been invaluable every step of the way from presenting our offer to the close of escrow a few months later. She has been remarkably helpful in particular with regards to dealing with all financial complexities attached to a cross border transaction. Thanks to an amazing sense of attention to details, she masterfully coordinated the entire transaction with all stakeholders and parties involved and made us feel completely safe about buying our first home in the USA. She has clearly exceeded all my expectations and provided a level of service largely beyond the call of duty of a regular real estate agent. I highly recommend Sophia to anyone looking to make a real estate investment in the Bay Area.


~ Nadia K.

My wife and I met Sophia socially, and she offered to advise us in our search for investment property in another city. Since then, she has been incredibly generous with her time, and has given us precious recommendations on what deals to go for, or run from. We are very grateful and wish her the greatest success.


~ Michel B.

Working with an agent like Sophia is like a breath of fresh air. She is diligent about providing information when requested and quick to respond to needs, or concerns. Her dedication to her transactions, from beginning to end, helps to insure quick and timely closings.


~ Heather C.

Sophia helped us purchase our first home, she was patient and addressed all our concerns. She's very responsive and I couldn't have picked a better real estate agent. She is the best!!!


~ Sal C.

Sophia is a straight shooter. I learned very quickly that it is of essence to have a Realtor who is bullish and will help you get what you need. Sophia was always keeping us in the loop, very clear with what she needed, the timing of it and the why she needed it piece. The short sale process if very confusing and frustrating for a buyer and yet she seemed to make it as seamless as possible. I would recommend her to anyone that is looking to sell!


~ Cindy L.

We met Sophia at an Open House and immediately clicked with her. We have worked together for several months now on various property and development projects. As her clients, we find her exceedingly smart, dependable, and thorough. On our very first collaboration with Sophia, she worked long and hard, carrying us through every detail. She had our back the entire time so we had peace of mind throughout. She's a real pleasure to work with; any client would be lucky to have her in their camp


~ Nora N.

Buying a home is stressful, meeting Sophia was a blessing. With our busy schedules she kept us focused and worked too many late nights with us "sorry Sophia" with us on offers. She was the calming factor for us during inspections and negotiations. When we did find the right house, we had a great team, but if it wasn't for Sophia overseeing everything and keeping everyone in the loop, I know we would have had undue stress that we didn't need. Sophia truly goes above an beyond. We owe her a lot


~ Lisa B.

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