Life is full of exciting ‘firsts.’ Your first day of school, your first job, your first car… now you might be thinking about buying your first house. While it’s tempting to dive right in, buying a home isn’t something you should rush into. In fact, you should probably spend more time on it than you think.
From the very first steps to closing day, StartingPoint Realty will guide you every step of the way. In the meantime, do these five things before buying your first Chicago home.
1. Check your credit score
And improve it if you need to. A healthy credit score will you get the best rates on the market, whereas a low credit score could result in sizable fees or a larger down payment.
2. Know what you can afford
Knowing how much house you can afford starts with knowing how much you spend. In order to do this, start tracking your spending. When putting it on pen and paper (or into a spreadsheet) most people discover they spend more than they think. Consider your monthly spending habits and how a mortgage payment fits in. Ultimately, how much you can afford will depend on what type of loan you’re using. For starters, use an online mortgage calculator and add other expenses like taxes, insurance and utilities.
3. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
Credit score in check? Have an idea of how much house you can afford? Good! Now you can take the next step in buying your first home – getting pre-approved for a mortgage. In fact, you should do this before you even start searching for homes. Most Chicago real estate agents will agree it’s best to have your finances in check before your first walk-through. This ensures that you’re seeing homes that are realistic for your budget and lifestyle.
4. Consider different property types
Before you can truly determine what type of home will work for you, ask yourself these questions:
- How long do I plan to live here?
- How often will I be at home?
- Who will live in the house?
- Would I purchase a foreclosure?
Firstly, the home you buy should fit into your five-year plan. Why make an investment in something you’ll grow out of in a couple years? Secondly, think about how much time you’ll actually spend at home. If you travel often, a low-maintenance condo or townhouse could be a great fit. Then again, if you’re living with other people or plan to expand your family, a single family home is something to consider. Lastly, how much work are you willing to put into a home (if any)? Fixer-uppers are a great way to own property for a lower price, but if time isn’t on your side you can look for something more turn-key.
5. Connect with a reputable agent
Truth be told, you don’t want to work with just anyone. Every real estate agent is different and brings unique specialities to the table. For example, StartingPoint Realty specializes in first-time homebuyers, so we have a better understanding of your needs before we even meet. Speak with several real estate agents before choosing ‘the one.’ A great way to do this is by visiting open houses in your area. There is always an agent on site, and you can chat them up to see if there’s a connection.
StartingPoint Realty – dedicated to first-time Chicago home buyers!
Always feel welcome to contact us for help with your Chicago home buying questions!
Ryan Gable Broker/CEO Starting Point Realty
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