10 Steps to Buying Your First Home

Buying a home, either in Chicago or elsewhere, is a big step that involves a lot of financial and market research. There’s a whole new vocabulary of words and acronyms to learn. For mortgages alone, there are endless resources dedicated to the many details and varying types.

If you are just beginning the process, here is an overview of 10 steps to buying your first home.

  1. Ask yourself: are you ready to buy?
    • Be realistic about your long-term financial and personal goals to see if buying makes sense for you.
    • Start researching early, and take your time.
    • Get a sense of housing trends in specific areas.
    • Check your credit report and score
  2. Check your credit report and score
    • By law, you can get one free credit report annually. You can expect a good mortgage rate with a credit score at or above 720.
  3. Start gathering for a down payment
    • Historically, 20% was the benchmark for most individuals, but currently, down payments as low as 3% are common.
    • Determine how much you can afford before you start your home search, and remember to consider how much your monthly payments will be.
    • Start shopping for a home
  4. Find the right partners
    • Your real estate broker will be your lifeline. Take your time to find the right fit, and ask a lot of questions.
    • Finding the right lender is also important, so make sure to shop around before making your choice.
  5. Get pre-approved by a lender
    • A mortgage pre-approval means that a lender has looked into your credit history, income stability, and current finances, and is tentatively prepared to loan you money for a house.
    • A mortgage pre-approval is usually good for up to 90 days.
  6. Start shopping for a home
    • It’s important to not only be informed about new listings but to be able to see listings as soon as possible.
    • Our experienced brokers recommend seeing between three to five listings in one day.
    • If you see too many at once, specific properties may start to blend together.
  7. Make the offer
    • Every property is different, and therefore, every offer is different. A trusted agent will help guide you in the right direction based on the present market.
    • When making the offer, it’s a good idea to include all signed disclosures and your pre-approval letter.
  8. Get a home inspection and appraisal
    • A home inspection determines if there is any damage or issues with the home in need of fixing, while a home appraisal determines if the home is a good investment.
  9. Close on your new home
    • At closing, you sign all of the paperwork required to complete the purchase, including your loan documents.
    • It’s important to have a good mortgage broker and attorney who can advise you on what you need to bring and how much your closing costs will be.
  10. Move-in & consider various post-closing tasks
    • As you settle in, it’s helpful to think about tasks such as changing the locks, updating your address, and informing the necessary parties of your move.
    • Maintain an emergency savings fund to give yourself a comfortable cushion for any unexpected expenses.

Looking for a more in-depth guide? Click the button below for our First Time Homebuyer Guide!

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