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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

New Year’s Resolutions for Your Home

Looking for some ideas for New Year’s Resolutions that don’t have to do with dieting? Making some resolutions for your home improve your health, wealth, and lifestyle all in one!

Here are some examples:

Resolution #1 – Reduce Clutter

The most common thing I see when touring homes is clutter. We all have it, even if it’s just the ‘junk drawer’ or the unorganized shoe shelf. Every time you look at it, it can stress you out! Take a day for yourself to go to the Container Store or Hobby Lobby and pick up some great baskets for organizing the closets and shelves. Target also sells some wonderful drawer dividers so you can see your tools and items more easily and make sure that everything has a place.

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Resolution #2 – Spot Checks

It’s easy to put off that furnace service and fireplace cleaning. They’re those not fun expenditures that no one wants to make. But they’re so important to keeping the home functioning well and avoiding more costly problems later on!

chimney sweep

Resolution #3 Re-fresh 1 room

Tackling a whole house remodel can be daunting. Make a budget (even if it’s tiny), do some browsing on sites like Houzz and Pinterest to get some ideas for your room, and go ‘smart shopping.’ Look on Craigslist, at resale shops, or your favorite stores, if you have the budget for it, and give one room a makeover. It will improve the value of your house and give your Winter blues a kick in the pants!

living room

Evanston Market Highlight-$400-600K

$400-600K properties in Evanston have long been a ‘sweet spot’ for sellers. High demand and often low inventory. I am highlighting this market price point this week because it is a particularly good time to sell a property in this range. Take a look at the numbers.

This breakdown shows that the number of properties sold year to date in this range is up 9% and the average days on market is down 11%.

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The two graphs chart the market progress for the year showing that October property sales were up 37.5% from the previous October and Median sale price is up 7.9%!

What tells us it’s a good time to list NOW? Inventory from last month is down 20%! less competition means your property stands out. Buying demand is still strong. Contact me anytime for a free comparative market analysis of your Evanston, Skokie, or North Shore home.

Evanston Market Report

For this week’s blog I thought I would give you all an overall look at the Evanston market. Evanston has remained one of the strongest markets in the North Shore for the second year in a row. Number of properties sold is up 15% from last year and inventory is down 10% from last month. Suggesting now is an excellent time to sell with low supply and high demand. In addition, the price per square foot is up 4% from last year. Good news all around!

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