Buying your new home in Chicago is a good move. An analysis by U.S. News ranks Chicago as the 79th leading place to live in and 56th best area to retire in. So, if you get a house in Chicago, you’ll stay in a high-potential city that many home seekers desire.
However, buying a home isn’t always straightforward. It requires adequate time and effort. You must consider several factors to ensure your money doesn’t go down the drain. Look into the current real estate market, prevailing prices, and what’s trending. At the same time, you must only work with professionals to avoid fraudsters who are out to swindle you. With that in mind, below are six tips for purchasing your new home in Chicago:
1. Consider the location
The location is always a crucial factor when buying a home. Chicago has numerous neighborhoods, each with unique infrastructure, culture, growth potential, and price ranges. You can check property reports for details about the different communities, such as growth projections, demographics, and psychographics, to ensure you pick a place that matches your dreams.
Additionally, websites that list houses for sale in Chicago usually have comprehensive information on the area’s characteristics. Whether you want a home in Randolph, Lake Shore, Columbus, Monroe, Watterson, Pearson, or Pensacola Avenue, you can find data that’ll help you make an informed decision.
Consider the pros and cons of each area and pick the one with the best balance. You’ll typically have to compromise on some wants, given that no place will perfectly meet your needs. Also, select a neighborhood with an excellent rating to ensure that if you resell your home in the future, it’ll be at a significantly higher price than when you bought it.
2. Consider your needs
Homeowners have varying long-term or short-term needs. Perhaps you want a home in a suburban area with a calm environment where you can access necessary amenities and be close to your workplace, school, public transport routes, grocery stores, police stations, or parks. Buying a home near such amenities simplifies life.
On top of this, consider the kind of feature you’re looking for in-home, whether it’s the design or the size of the patio, bedroom, or kitchen.
Online home listings reveal the most popular features homebuyers currently look for. For instance, in a recent survey, open-concept homes garnered the most attention with 1,900 views, followed by homes with large kitchens (1,800 views) and houses with new roofs (1,720 views).
Homeowners are also keen on complete gyms, city views, an outdoor pool, and double-pane windows. Knowing the exact features you want in a home helps you quickly narrow down potential choices and find a suitable one.
3. Prepare your budget
The average home value in Chicago is USD$276,299. And that implies you can get one at a slightly higher or lower price. Thus, home-hunting with these sale prices in mind is best.
Knowing average home prices can help you prepare for the down payment. The downpayment should be at least 20% to avoid higher-than-average premiums and interest rates. Aside from the mortgage, keep in mind that you’ll also have to pay property taxes, home maintenance, utilities, and insurance. All these can add up to your monthly home expenses.
A detailed computation of all financial requirements ensures you don’t get strained after making the down payment. It also helps you know the loan amount to request if you aren’t paying from your savings.
4. Seek a pre-approved mortgage
A mortgage will help decrease your financial burden since you’ll be paying for your home monthly over a long period. Mortgage pre-approval helps a lender know whether you qualify for a home loan, the suitable loan programs, and the interest rate you’re eligible for.
So, gather your financial documents like W2 statements, paystubs, bank statements, and tax returns, and improve your credit score if it isn’t sufficient. Then, fill out pre-approval application forms with suitable service providers. With a pre-approval letter, you can quickly convince real estate agents that you’re willing and able to purchase a home at the current market rates.
5. Hire a real estate agent
Real estate agents have extensive knowledge of the housing market in Chicago. They know what homes are currently selling and which one you may be interested in, depending on the features you describe and the budget you set. They’re also perfectly conversant with negotiating sale agreements and can fast-track the closing process.
Consider looking for a local real estate agent who operates in your desired residential area. They’ll get the right house based on your budget and features. They can help you connect to homeowners who are not aggressively advertising their homes. A realtor can also check all offers, inform you of house interest rates, give feedback on your questions, and help you get a loan.
6. Inspect the home
Before you move into your new house, conducting a thorough home inspection is best. Sellers can hide the truth about their home’s condition. The images used in the listing may look perfect, but it doesn’t guarantee the house’s real condition.
You must visit every shortlisted home and inspect all critical features. Check the HVAC systems, bathroom, kitchen appliances, walls, plumbing, electrical wiring, and foundation. If possible, tag along a professional inspector who can go beyond the aesthetics and evaluate the house’s structural integrity. If you find any issues, you can speak to the owner and negotiate a lower price since you’ll have to do repairs. But if there are too many problems, it’d be best to look for a better one.
Approaching the home-buying process with adequate information can make your journey smooth. Always seek help from industry professionals with experience in the Chicago housing market. Doing so gives you an easier time finding the right home that matches your needs.