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Finding the right house is a process, and in Chicago’s buyers market, you’ll likely have a few options. While some people find the house-hunting process to be stressful, others find it exciting. Much of your experience will depend on how you prepare. If you want a smooth process that leads you to your dream Chicago home, here are some things to consider:
Getting pre-approved is important for several reasons. First, it helps you determine how much you can afford. While you’re going to want to look at what you’re comfortable paying on a monthly basis, you also need to make sure you’re approved for that much. Getting pre-approved will help you narrow down your price range to what’s right for you. It also gives you the chance to establish a relationship with a lender. It’s great to have that foundation in place when you begin the mortgage process down the line. A good lender will be able to answer your questions about the mortgage process and explain your options. Finally, getting pre-approved tells your agent and sellers that you’re a serious buyer. It can be especially helpful in cases where there are other parties interested in the same property.
Work With an Agent
Just like a good lender will be able to help you navigate the financial part of the homebuying process, a good agent will be able to help you navigate your search. Be open with your agent about your specific needs, desires, and concerns. Make sure you work with someone who asks questions and who makes communication easy. This person can be an invaluable resource in your search, so it really pays off to work with someone you trust.
Narrow Your Focus
Chicago is a big city. To allow your agent to better assist you, and to maximize your own efforts, it’s useful to narrow down your search to a few neighborhoods. If you’re newer to Chicago or maybe just haven’t explored many neighborhoods, head out to do some investigating. Try out different neighborhoods by visiting their coffee shops, restaurants, and nightlife. These things can give you a great sense of an area’s community and vibe. Going in person and walking these areas on foot can really help you determine if you could see yourself living there. Many prospective buyers get frustrated when they find the right home in the wrong area. Determine how important location is to you and get as specific as you can with your search.
Make a List
Actually, make two lists. Start with a list of everything you (and your partner, if you’re buying with someone else) want in a home. Then make a list of the things you need in a home. What are your non-negotiable items? Keep this list realistic. You’ll use both of these throughout your house-hunting process, and that ‘needs’ list can be a huge aid in your decision making. Many prospective buyers find themselves hemming and hawing over a house that they’re not sure about. When you have a list of must-haves, it can make that decision much more black and white. If a home doesn’t have what you need, why waste time deliberating? Your list of ‘wants’ can help guide your search and rank the places you do find, and your list of needs can smooth out the decision-making process.
House-hunting in Chicago can be an exciting process if you prepare for it. Take the time to find the right lender and agent to help you navigate the ins and outs of buying a home, and get clear with yourself about exactly what you’re looking for. When you do these things, you’ll find that perfect Chicago home in no time.