Before You Begin
People make the decision to buy a home for a wide range of reasons. Some are exciting reasons...a promotion, a new marriage, additions to the family, inheritance, a new job...while others are not. But whatever the reason for YOUR interest in examining the home buying process, whether this is your first purchase or you're an experienced home buyer, our intent is to provide you with the resources you need to make the very best, informed decisions for yourself and your family. Real estate is not a static industry, particularly in the last decade. There have been a lot of changes made in recent years, and no doubt many more are on the horizon. And those changes impact consumers in very real ways.
Before you take the plunge and start looking for a home to buy, there are a number of things you'll want to consider.
Building a quality "team" of partners to help you through the process of assessing your needs, priorities, price range, etc, is probably the single best defense you have against all the potential pitfalls and roadblocks that could potentially confront you! While not everyone on "your team" will be together at day one, it's important to think about who you might want in your corner right from the beginning. Generally, if you select a quality real estate agent to assist you, they'll be able to offer suggestions of other quality team member as well.
Consider your agent your coach, your trusted advisor, your concierge service, your partner. She/he can be a huge asset in helping you make the very best decisions as you move through the process of buying a property. In fact, once you've selected your agent, you'll find they can most likely recommend other professionals to add to your team, services like lenders, attorneys, home inspectors, etc. They'll recommend people who already have a proven track record with them and their colleagues for providing quality services to their clients.
Having the right lender in your corner is HUGE! We've all heard the stories about unscrupulous financial dealings and unfair lending practices. A quality lender will evaluate your financial circumstances and advise you as to which financing altertives will best fit your particular needs. They'll warn you about the potential pitfalls of certain practices (such as negative amortization, or prepayment penalties) so your financial risk is substantially reduced. And that's a GOOD thing!
While real estate transactions may not be conducted with the use of real estate attorneys in every state, they certainly are in Illinois...particularly in the greater Chicago area. And while a particular buyer or seller may choose not to hire an attorney, the reality is the party on the other side of the transaction most assuredly will. In the largest single financial transaction of your life to day, you don't want to give "the other side" any sort of unfair advantage. Protect yourself...find a good real estate attorney (an attorney who specializes in real estate transactions). Attorneys in other specialties may well excel in their areas of specializations. However, far too often they fail miserably in their work on real estate transactions. This could cost you thousands...it could cost you the home of your dreams.
While no home inspection will uncover every single issue in a home (the inspector can't see behind the walls, under the foundation, etc, it certainly will go a long way to expose the sort of issues that might impact your decision to purchase the home. Is the home appropriately wired, what's the condition of the roof, of the foundation, are there leaks, has there been flooding in the basement, what about ventilation, etc.? Your agent can furnish you with names of reputable ASHI licensed home inspectors.