By Charese David, Chicago Real Estate Broker
Take your time. Buying a home 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 determine a price range you’re comfortable with. I can recommend a few very good mortgage brokers, if you’re looking for one.
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.
Your real estate broker can share information about the history of an 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.
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. Then map boundaries so you know where to look for a home.
If you have any real estate questions, please contact me at (312) 399-1271 or firstname.lastname@example.org.