By Charese David

How is the Chicago real estate market changing? It's shifting from a seller's market to a buyer's market. 

Looking to buy a home?

Take your time. This is a big decision and not something you want to rush into. Get organized, do your prep work before you start the process. Meet with a mortgage broker to provide insight on interest rates and what you can afford. I can recommend a few good mortgage brokers, if you’re looking for one.

Interview real estate brokers. Check out broker reviews as this will provide good insight. Zillow and Yelp reviews are great to browse, along with references from past clients. Research their credentials to determine if they are a good fit for your home buying goals. This real estate professional should have a wide range of knowledge about the Chicago market. They will help you understand the nuances of the property values.

When buying a home, your real estate broker can share information about the history of the area, zoning restrictions (for fixer upers), local commerce and community events and media. They can tell you if an area is sleepy community or one that has a more social atmosphere. And even if you have your neighborhoods narrowed down, your broker may offer suggestions in alternate neighborhoods where you can get more bang for your buck and possibly a bigger return when you go to sell years down the road. 

Research the neighborhoods that you would like to live in. You can start by searching prices online to find properties that fit within your budget. Once you’ve narrowed down the area(s), spend time in the neighborhood(s) at various times of day. Hang out in coffee shops, wander the retail and grocery stores, eat lunch or dinner in the restaurants, grab a drink at a local pub and explore public transportation. 

Get a good sense of the type of people and establishments in the area. How safe is the neighborhood? Ask around, research online - real estate brokers are technically not allowed to discuss safety issues, making it important to get a feel for the community as a whole. 

If you have young children and you’d like to enroll them in school, check out the CPS (Chicago Public School) website for school rankings. Call the school and ask specific questions about the teachers, classroom size and community involvement. Go on a school tour so you can get a feel for how it operates. Then map boundaries so you know where to look for a home. 

Buying a home doesn’t need to be overwhelming if you’re working with the right broker. Real estate is my passion. I am dedicated to gathering knowledge and am committed to building client relationships. If you have questions or comments, please contact me at (312) 399-1271 or charese@menardjohnson.com.