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The Key to Buying a Home This Year: Questions to Ask Your Real Estate Agent

Katie Foss

As a lifelong resident of the great city of Chicago, I am passionate about turning my clients real estate dreams into reality...

As a lifelong resident of the great city of Chicago, I am passionate about turning my clients real estate dreams into reality...

Feb 9 6 minutes read

If you are thinking of purchasing a home this year, you are not alone. In today’s competitive market, when it comes to buying a house, you must have an “in it to win it” mentality. You need the right people on your team and the right leader in charge of your game. Without a doubt, having the right real estate agent, like me, is the key to successfully landing the home of your dreams.

One of the best things about employing a real estate agent is that you can get a straight answer about anything you need to know regarding purchasing a home. Here are a few examples of common questions that many people ask their real estate agents.

What’s the First Step to Buying a Home?

Before you get too excited and start hunting around for a home on the Internet, the first steps you should take before buying a home are threefold.

It should begin with you checking your credit score, to give you an idea of what type of home loan you might qualify for. Next, you need to take an honest look at your finances and calculate how much house you can afford.  Talking to a mortgage lender and getting pre-approved for a home loan is an absolute necessity.  

After you have a solid figure in mind, allow the real estate agent that you have chosen to help guide you through a list of possible homes within your price range. Be sure to select a real estate agent that you trust and communicates well.

Discuss with me what aspects of your ideal home are most important to you. Perhaps you desire a specific neighborhood or school district. Or, you might wish for particular aesthetic characteristics. Whatever the case may be, I specialize in locating what you desire, and making magic happen for you.

Can You Recommend a Good Lender, Inspector, or Appraiser?

When purchasing your home, you will need to utilize various professionals during the process. Real estate agents have an extensive network of connections.

If you haven’t already gotten a pre-approval letter, getting a recommendation on a lender from your real estate agent may really help bring you up to speed.  Many sellers appreciate when the buyers agent and lender have a relationship, as they know it won't be a problem getting the deal done. When you find a home you are interested in, it will be very helpful to have both an inspector and an appraiser ready to go - especially in this hot market!

What Are the Closing Costs on a House?

Some people don’t realize that a down payment isn’t the only thing they need to bring to the table when purchasing a home. Closing costs are also part of the equation. They are essentially processing fees that you are required to pay to your lender. Closing costs may comprise as much as 3% to 6% of the cost of your home. This money owed is separate from your down payment.

Common types of closing costs include lender fees, appraisal, escrow deposits for taxes and insurance, attorney and inspection fees. 

How Do I Compete to Win in a Bidding War?

Many buyers wonder what to do when they have found their ideal home but find themselves in a bidding war over it.

To begin with, if possible, offer the seller cash over financing. If this isn’t a possibility for you, make sure you can show proof that you are pre-approved to buy the home.

Another thing you should do is assess and remove any contingencies that you have included in your offer. Contingencies are essentially clauses in your contract that allow you to back out after signing. One common contingency is that the house must pass an inspection. While some contingencies are needed to protect yourself as the buyer, there are some that we may be able to do without.  There are several removable contingencies or other enticing options we can offer to the seller such as their ideal closing date or renting back after closing.  I am able to advise on the best path forward to make your offer as attractive as possible.  It isn't always the best price that wins.  

What Are the Next Steps After an Offer Is Accepted?

Logically, after your offer was accepted, you may be ready to jump for joy! Before you do, let’s get real about what could happen next.

First of all, don’t be surprised if everything doesn’t go exactly as planned. You need to prepare yourself for the possibility that the house could have issues, you can’t obtain the type of financing you want, or your house was not appraised high enough to justify its price. Being prepared for possible outcomes will help you overcome any challenges that may happen throughout the process.

With that being said, here is what the schedule is like after your offer is accepted. To begin, your earnest money is deposited. Next, all inspections on the home will be completed. Your lender will then choose a certified appraiser to assess the property.

Your loan approval deadline will then approach. You will do the final walkthrough of the home, followed by signing all of the documents and transferring the rest of the down payment. In the final step, the property deed is stamped and the house legally becomes yours.

Now it's time to celebrate! 

Buying a home this year can be quite a complicated and arduous task. Trying to navigate the waters of home buying on your own is not something that anyone should attempt. Having a real estate agent on your side to guide and negotiate for you is an absolute necessity.

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