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It’s no secret that Chicago is one of the most desirable places to live in the country, and many first-time buyers — from all over — want it to be their home base. If you’re just beginning the house-hunting process, it can feel a little daunting. Luckily, with some organization and prior planning, finding the perfect Chicago home doesn’t need to be difficult. Here are some tips for first-time buyers that can make your transition to homeowners a bit easier:
Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
This is an important initial step with many benefits — it allows you to find a lender you trust, it helps your Realtor focus their efforts, and it communicates to sellers that you’re a serious buyer. Finding a lender you trust is crucial. Ask friends and family for recommendations and prepare a list of questions in advance. You need to have complete confidence in their abilities before moving forward. The preapproval process will allow you to establish a connection and rapport that will be a great foundation for the mortgage process down the road. A pre-approval is the first big step of the homebuying process, but it isn’t a commitment, it’s just preparing you for an eventual mortgage application and letting you know how much you’ll be able to borrow.
Define Your Budget
While getting pre-approved lets you know how much you can spend, you don’t necessarily need to use the full amount you’re pre-approved for as your budget. Spend some time looking at your finances and determine what you can actually afford, then base your budget on that. Once you’ve established a budget, you need to stick to it. Being firm with your budget will make difficult decisions easier, and it will ensure you make a commitment that you can comfortably meet.
What Are Your Must-Haves?
I’m sure the list of things you’d like to have in your first home is long, but your must-have list should be significantly shorter. Just like with your budget, defining these before you start shopping is key. Make separate lists for the things you’d like and the things you’re not willing to go without. This not only makes the process easier for you, it also puts your real estate agent in the position to work at top efficiency. It will save you from touring a string of houses that just aren’t right for you, and it will help you narrow down your choices.
Find the Right Realtor
Having the right Realtor as a partner — one who is experienced and communicative — will definitely improve your house-hunting experience. You’ll have someone in your corner to offer support and advice and make sure you’re moving in the right direction. Just like when you choose a lender, you need to find someone you trust. Again, ask family and friends for recommendations and ensure you’re confident in their abilities before moving forward. You should feel comfortable communicating and asking questions, and know that they understand your specific needs.
For first-time buyers in Chicago, prior planning is the key to success. When you’re proactive, find the right professionals to help you, and get clear on your specific parameters, you’ll be off to a great start.
If you’d like to talk more about finding the right home, or if I can help you with a mortgage pre-approval or a Realtor recommendation, please get in touch. I’m always happy to be of assistance.