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If you’re preparing to start the search for your first home in Chicago, there are some key strategies that can help buyers make the process smoother and less stressful. Whether you’re just starting to browse listings in your area, or you’re ready to put in an offer, paying attention to these important aspects of the process can help first-time buyers succeed. Let’s dive in:
Know What You Can Afford
It seems obvious, but often a list price or down payment isn’t enough to help first-time buyers understand what they can afford. Consider what your current monthly expenses are now, and use that as a way to gauge what you can afford going forward. Looking at things on a monthly level can make it easier to understand how those numbers will impact your day-to-day life. The key when making these estimates is remembering that there are expenses beyond the list price to factor in. In addition to closing costs, first-time buyers need to be prepared for the maintenance expenses that go along with owning a home. Factoring these into what they can afford is an important step in the planning process.
Assess Your Priorities
Starting the searching for your first home can be overwhelming. With so many options, it can be difficult to know how to narrow your focus. My recommendation for this is to assess your priorities first. Which things are most important to you in your home? For many, price will come in at number one. Knowing what you can afford and sticking to that is important. From there, what else is important to you? Are you set on a specific Chicago neighborhood or suburb, or perhaps it’s features and design that will make a place feel like home? Getting clear on these things first can help make your search more efficient.
Consider Your Timeline
Another way to streamline your search is to get clear on your timeline both short and long term.
For the short term, when do you want to move by? Can you take your time in the house-hunting process, or is there a deadline motivating your search? For the long term, is this a home you plan to grow into, or are you looking for a starter home that you plan to sell several years down the line? Having a road map for yourself is a great tool to help you navigate the buying process.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you’re a first-time buyer, chances are that many things are new to you, and that’s ok! The most important thing is that you get the information you need to make an informed decision. So, talk to your realtor, loan officer, and anyone else involved in your home-buying process and get the information you need to feel confident in your decision.
Are you a first-time buyer in Chicago? What are the biggest challenges you’re facing? If you already own a Chicago home, what’s something you wish you knew before beginning the buying process? Please share your thoughts with us!