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A Checklist for First-Time Buyers in Chicago

Aug 30, 2019 | Industry News

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Are you ready to settle down and call Chicago home? Purchasing a home for the first time can be a bit overwhelming and sometimes confusing. Understanding the process and creating a game plan can be beneficial and ease the stress for first time homebuyers. This checklist can get you on the right path towards your dream home:


Define your budget

Determining what you can afford is the first step to being a responsible, first-time homebuyer.  Examine your monthly expenses and compare that to your monthly income in order to come up with a realistic monthly mortgage payment that you can afford. Make sure to take into account not only the principal and interest that comes along with a mortgage but also the additional expenses of insurance, taxes, and an HOA. Once you know what you can afford, you’ll know what properties are within your budget.


Research lenders and loan options

After figuring out what you can afford, you can start looking for lenders and loan officers so that they can get you pre-approved for a mortgage. Your loan officer will be able to provide you with the different loan options that you qualify for and explain the pros and cons of each. You’ll most likely need to provide income and tax return documentation in order to qualify, so having those ready to go is a plus.


Find an agent

Looking at homes online is a good way to narrow down the areas you’re interested in. Also, having a good buyer’s agent will enhance your options and provide you with an advocate for negotiation. They are there to walk you through the buying and negotiation process to ensure that all of your needs are met. Typically in a real estate transaction, the seller will cover the cost of the agent’s commission, so hiring an agent is beneficial to you with zero cost.


Look for houses

Now comes the fun part: looking for your new home. Your agent should provide you with multiple listings for you to browse online. Once you’ve narrowed down the ones you’re interested in seeing, your agent will set up showings. It’s a good idea to print out the listing sheets and take notes on each one. This will help you narrow down your options. Feel free to ask your agent any questions you have; if the information isn’t readily available, your agent can get you the answer.


Submit an offer

Once you’ve found the house you want, talk with your agent and decide how much you want or are able to offer. It’s a good idea to take a look at similar homes in the neighborhood for comparable prices. This will give you an idea of the estimated value. It’s also a good idea to include an appraisal and inspection contingency in your contract, as this will protect your earnest-money deposit should the house have any kind of structural flaw.


Home inspection and appraisal

If your offer has been accepted by the sellers, then you can arrange for a home inspection and appraisal. It’s a good idea to be present for the home inspection so that you can ask the inspector any questions you may have regarding their findings. Once the appraisal and home inspection are completed and submitted to your lender, you’ll have the opportunity to renegotiate your offer based on the findings. If you are comfortable with everything, you can move on to closing the deal.


Close the deal and get the keys

Once all requirements have been satisfied and your loan documents have been signed, it’s time to close the deal, get the keys, pack your boxes, and start your life in your new home.



Buying your first home is an exciting milestone. It can seem a bit overwhelming but by following this simple checklist, you will be well prepared to start life in your new home. Tell us about your first home buying experience. 

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