The first step is to locate and speak with an experienced mortgage banker or broker so you’ll know what you can afford to buy. The broker can assist you in determining the financing option that’s best for you as well as provide you with information on monthly payments of principal, interest, private mortgage insurance, tax escrows, real-estate tax, and homeowner insurance and/or monthly assessments cost projections, etc. Obtaining a loan pre-approval from the lender is also important. The pre-approval says you’re approved for the loan — all you need to do is find a property that you like.
Once you have the pre-approval for financing, you need to locate a Realtor to assist you in the process. Make a list of the things you absolutely must have in your new home (number of bedrooms, bathrooms, size of garage, size of yard, location, amenities, features, etc.). Categorize your list by “needs” and “wishes” and, if possible, narrow your search by area before you actually start looking at specific homes. Do some driving around and know the areas that would work for you. Your first meeting with your real-estate agent should be to exchange information. You’ll share your “needs” and “wishes” lists and your preferences as to the areas you like. If there’s time, perhaps you’ll see a few homes in the areas you’ve selected. If not, you’ll schedule another time to preview properties.
As you go through each step of the buying process, be sure to keep a list of any questions you have so that when you next speak with your mortgage broker or real-estate agent, you’ll get the answers you need.
Georgia S. Pierini, CRS, ABR, GRI, is a broker and Certified Relocation Specialist with Baird & Warner Residential Inc., serving Chicagoland.