Buying a Home in Chicago


How to buy your first home

The process of buying a home can be both exciting and overwhelming. After all, it’s the biggest purchase most people will ever make. Enlisting the help of a qualified real estate agent can make the entire home buying process flow much more smoothly. These professionals can comfortably guide you through the process of buying a home by knowledgeably assisting you every step of the way.

In Chicago especially, the most important thing new home buyers can do is choose an agent who understands new construction. Most first-time home buyers look at the model and the upgrades, and they do not look at the soundness of the building. They need an agent with an awareness of which developers have good reputations because it is hard for the first-time home buyer to be aware of these things.

When meeting with a prospective real estate agent, buyers should seek to ask questions about the agent’s track record and for referrals, as well as detailed information about the market, such as resources, statistics, inventory and sales history.

What are you looking for?

You cannot start to look for a home until you know what you are looking for. Figure out what kind of home you want to live in, what location your prefer and what kinds of features and amenities you want to have. Your agent can help you identify your preferences.

For instance, CENTURY 21 S.G.R. takes clients through a targeted exercise to uncover priorities and criteria that buyers may not have considered. CENTURY 21 S.G.R., also interviews buyers to find a location that is best suited to their lifestyle and where they work. It tries to identify the best product that fits their lifestyle.

Do your homework before searching for a home

You will want to know how much home you can afford before you start seriously looking. There is no point daydreaming about homes that are not within your budget. By working with a mortgage lender, you will know what price range to be exploring, and you will be viewed as a serious buyer by sellers and their real estate agents.

You should get pre-approved right away. In fact, CENTURY 21 S.G.R. agents are instructed not to work with a buyer unless he or she ahs a pre-approval letter. Often times, the price will define the product you can buy, such as, a condo or town home, or single-family home. There is a protocol to be followed: it is just common sense.

When you are ready to check out some listings, the Internet is a valuable and convenient resource.

These days, the Internet is being used for initial searches. People are identifying their own properties and their own locations, but they should still hire an agent. You want their expertise and you want them to represent you in the negotiations, and refer you to other professionals.

CENTURY 21 S.G.R. is enhancing its Web site,, to focus on information about neighborhoods, school systems, new developments, and hints on buying new constructions, and more. The site also features an e-mail Q&A feature,, where an agent will answer your questions within one business day.

Home tours

After you have gotten your financial ducks in a row, you are ready to start physically looking at homes for sale. To get a feel for what is out there, try to attend open houses as often as possible, especially in communities you like. Even if the home you view is not entirely what you want, you may pick up some good pointers about what to look for in the future, or ideas about features and considerations you had not thought of.

How many properties should an agent show you? An inexperienced agent will show many more than as necessary. It is the obligation of the agent to look at every property and eliminate those that do not fit the standards in construction or reputation. An experienced agent will show a lot fewer properties to a first-time home buyer. That makes the process more efficient.

What to look for when buying new construction

When you are looking at new construction, the thing to look at is the structure itself. Do not focus on the decorations of the model. Instead, focus on the quality of the roof, the windows, sound abatement qualities and the exterior materials. You want a builder who that is using all stone and brick.

With a condo or townhouse, transmission of noise is important. Many builders just use drywall between the units, and it is a poor sound abatement vehicle. You want a building that has concrete block separation between the units. You also want to look at the vertical separations: is it just wood joist, or is there some concrete there?

Avoid buying a building with too much concrete block on the exterior. It is open to penetration of water if not installed and treated properly. Besides, if the builders are using inexpensive materials on the outside, they might use inexpensive materials on the inside too.

How-To Tips for buying a home

The National Association of Realtors offers this advice when considering a home purchase.

  • Find out how long the home has been on the market. If it has been listed for more than a few months, find out why. There may be defects that are not immediately visible, or it may be priced too high.
  • Ask why the owners are selling. If they are in a hurry to sell due to relocation or are in escrow on another property, this may influence your chances of buying the home.
  • Are the appliances and/or any of the furniture included in the purchase price?
  • For the sake of comparison, find out about other recent home sales in the neighborhood.
  • What ancillary costs are involved in owning the home, such as home owner’s association fees, flood zone insurance or property taxes?

Nine mistakes to avoid when buying your home

The home buying process should be an exciting time in your life. This handy list of what not to do is our way of making sure the process is smooth and stress free.

  • Do not allow creditors to check your credit. By having your credit checked with other companies, it may result in a lower credit score and affect your approval.
  • Do not wait to get homeowners insurance. Most people make the mistake of waiting until just before closing to have insurance. By calling around sooner you can have time to find the best insurance for you.
  • Do not allow any negative bank drafts or balances. You may be asked to supply recent bank statements, please check to make sure all payments have cleared and your accounts maintain a positive balance.
  • Do not make large deposits or transfer funds. It is best to leave your money right where it is. Moving your money or making large deposits can cause confusion with the verification process and you will be asked to explain any large deposits made into your accounts over the last 3 months.
  • Do not make late payments. Due to the probability of having to re-verify your credit history prior to closing, you should always pay all bills when due, without exception.
  • Do not increase your credit balances. Avoid increasing the balance on your credit cards because this will increase your minimum payment due and may have a negative impact on your overall credit score.
  • Do not change jobs. Changing jobs before or during the loan process can create a real problem in qualifying you for the loan.
  • Do not make any large purchases. A large purchase can affect the amount of home you may qualify for and during the loan process it can make it extremely difficult to get your loan approved.
  • Do not pay off your bills. Your loan officer will advise you if it is necessary to pay off bills in order for you to qualify for a loan. He or she will also show you the best way to pay off bills to make sure you have the evidence needed to verify the bill has been paid off.