Buying your first home can be a little daunting. ‘Where do I begin?’ ‘What can I afford?’ ‘How do I do all the math?!’cartoon-stressed-out-man


The best thing to do first is gather your team together to help you. Find a real estate broker and a mortgage broker you like and trust to get you through the beginning steps. Here’s what they look like:

Step 1- Get pre-approved! Browsing late at night on housing websites looking through pictures for hours is lots of fun but you run the risk of falling in ‘love at first sight’ with something that isn’t in your budget. The pre-approval that you get from a licensed mortgage broker gives you an idea of exactly what you can afford while taking into account mortgage payment, taxes, insurance and assessments if any.

Step 2- Armed and Dangerous / Make a list- You’ve been supplied with your pre-approval. You’re armed with the letter and ready to pull the trigger on the first house you see. STOP! You still have to decide what you want!!! Take the time to write out your wish list. Order it according to priority of your ‘must-haves’ first, and keep in mind how long you plan to own your first home and what will fit your lifestyle during that period. I.E. Will you have pets during that time? Adding a spouse? Adding a roommate? Adding a child? You want to be sure your house has room to grow with you if your life might be growing in that time that you live there. Ask yourself questions like – “Am I willing to remodel or do I want new?” These types of questions help you narrow your focus from the start and have a more productive search.

Step 3- Virtual Showings- Ok now you are ready to browse to your hearts content online. Use whatever site you like best to search homes in the areas you like. However, be sure you like the site before you give your email address because you will end up on the e-mailing list until the end of time!  In addition, reach out to your Realtor with your list and have them be looking for pocket listings and homes not yet on the mls or online. This is especially helpful in competitive markets to be ‘in the know’ and the first through the door.

These are just a few of the steps to home buying. I want to invite anyone who might be considering their first purchase to my first time home buying seminar. Details below. And if you are not able to attend, don’t hesitate to reach out to me personally and ask any questions you like. I am always here as a resource to help you get started!


Cathy Kozlarek FTHB Seminar Postcard

Easter Egg Hunts in Chicago and North Shore

You may have been hoping to go to the Chicago Botanical Garden’s hunt this year but sadly they are already SOLD OUT! Here are some other fabulously fun options to go to with the kids and grandkids!

Right here in Evanston, IL at Ladd Arboretum, from 10:30am-3:30pm. Must Pre-register. Click the photo for more info.

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The annual Maggie Daley Hunt!

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This is a cool one- Egg hunt in the Chocolate Factory. A real life day of Willy Wonka!

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Lastly, if you are missing the Lincoln Park zoo they do a beautiful Easter event.

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3 Fun Holiday Events this week

The Thanksgiving Day parade- this year presented by McDonald’s. Click the photo for more info and to see the parade route.


Right here in Evanston there is the annual flying turkey 5k! A great way to be prepared for all the holiday eating! Click the photo for sign up info.

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Just a few days later in Skokie there’s the Holiday Fest and Candy Cane Walk. A great way to kick off the month of December and put you in the mood to celebrate!

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Fun Places to go This Fall in Chicagoland

Looking for places to take a date? Or something to occupy the kids this weekend? There are some really exciting places to go enjoy Fall activities this year! Here are just a few ideas :

A great place to go with kids or without is the Apple Festival in Lincoln Square October 3rd, 2015. There is a kid zone for activities and crafts, local musicians, and local vendors selling every kind of apple you can imagine!

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Gospel Brunch at House of Blues Sundays Oct 4-Dec 27, 2015 – Southern buffet and joyful singing will start your week off right! Click the photo for more info!

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Beer Tasting in the Garden – October 8, 2015  6-8pm at Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe 

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Pumpkin Festival – Highwood October 9-11 2015 – parade, pet costumes, a 5K, hayrides, pumpkin carving- something for everyone!


Boo at the Zoo – October 17-18 and 24-25 at Brookfield zoo 

Info from their site:

  • Can you find your way out of the “Craized Maize” corn maze?
  • Cheer for the pumpkin or cheer on the “Pumpkin Smasher”
  • Take a spin on the “Creepy Carousel” *
  • Watch professional pumpkin carver create giant jack-o’-lanterns
  • Hop on the “Haunted Hayride” and go behind the scenes for a hauntingly good time *
  • At 1:00 p.m. the popular Costume Parade commences on the North Mall, goes around Roosevelt Fountain and concludes on the West Mall.
  • Participate in the Costume Showcase at 1:30 p.m. Prizes for best animal theme, scariest, most original and best group.
  • Build a scarecrow at the Hamill Family Play Zoo *
  • Great photo ops at several pumpkin patches
  • Watch animals enjoy their very own pumpkins


Apple Picking at County Line Orchard – They feature a kids farm with animals, do it yourself apple picking, a maze and more! Season ends November 1st and until then you can pick daily 9-5pm!

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