Buying a Home in Today's Market

Buying a Home in Today's Market



Buying a home today is intimidating, especially for the first time buyer.  Terms like Short Sale, Foreclosure, Underwater, REO, HUD and VA Foreclosures can create a sea of confusion when you're trying to determine which type of property you should buy.


Working with a FULL-TIME professional real estate agent is the best way ensure you're making a commitment to purchase a property that will work within your budget and the time frame you have allowed for your move-in date.  The reason we stress you work with a full time agent is that you need someone who is available when you are and can be available for timely negotiations.  If you are considering purchasing what we call a "Distressed" property which would be one of the types listed above, you want to make sure your agent can clearly explain what you can expect during the process.


If you work with someone who isn't reachable or available at reasonable times, you may run the risk of missing out on a property that you were interested in.  Although there are many homes for sale, there is a smaller quantity of properties that are priced right and in good condition that are not in a distressed situation.  This can create competition among buyers for the same few properties, so if you're not able to get your offer in quickly you could miss out.


What's your first step? Get your financing in order. Whether a property is owned privately or by a bank, nobody wants to see your offer to purchase unless it's accompanied by a pre-approval letter.  The pre-approval letter shows the seller that you've already gone through the necessary steps to ensure your ability to buy.  This is important to a seller because once they accept your offer, their house is not likely to be considered by anyone else, meaning their home is pretty much off the market.  That's a big risk for them to take if they're not sure you are qualified.


Now what? It's time to figure out the type of property that's best for you.  Single family or townhome/condo?  When you consider a townhome or condo you need to include association dues into the monthly payment, which reduces the price of the home you can afford.  You can purchase a more expensive single family home with a similar monthly payment.  Do you want to live within walking distance of stores and restaurants or closer to nature with bike paths and forest preserves?  If schools are important review local "School report cards" to decide what's best for your children.  How about expressways? If you need to commute you want to be sure you're close to major highways or the train.  A good "discovery" session with your Realtor will help you figure all of these things out.


It's time to look! If you're not sure which neighborhood to choose, why not select a couple from each of your top 3-4 neighborhoods to get a feel for which one you like best.  It's a great idea to drive through neighborhoods on the weekend when people are home and likely doing things outdoors.  It's not unheard of to introduce yourself to potential new neighbors to see if they're people you'd like to live next door to.


As you view properties be sure make notes of what you like and dislike about each property.  When you see a variety of homes in one day the details can become blurred, making it difficult to remember which homes possessed which features.


Once you've decided which home to make your offer on your Realtor will prepare a contract.  This is when all the wheels start rolling toward your purchase.  Our next blog will review the steps you'll go through as you make your home purchase.

The Watsons are active in local communities and have lived in the Northwest Suburbs for over 40 years. Their knowledge and experience will get you the results you want! ~ Jayne Smith, Palatine, IL