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Frequently Asked Questions About Buying A Home

(Don't see your question here? Let me know!)

Do I have to pay money to use a Realtor to buy a house in the MLS?
No. In the state of Illinois, the home seller pays the commission to both of the Realtors involved in the transaction: 1) the Seller's agent who listed the property, and 2) the Buyer's agent who sold it. As the buyer of a home in the MLS, you get to enjoy my services free of charge.
What is the MLS?
MLS is an acronym that Realtors use when referring to the Multiple Listing Service. The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is the central database that Realtors use to find out about properties currently for sale, properties that are pending, and properties that have sold.
If I see a home I want to look at, I need to call the phone number on the sign out front, right?
That all depends on whether or not "Mariya Vandivort" is that name. The name and phone number that you see on the sign represents the agent who is working for the seller in selling that house. When you work with me as a buyer, I can show you any home in the County, no matter whose sign is in the yard. I will also represent your interests 100%, and do my best in ensuring that you find the perfect home, at the perfect price. When you call the name on the sign, you may run into a "dual agency" situation.
I heard from a friend at work that interest rates are headed up/down. Does that make this a good time to buy a house?
The interest rate is the cost of borrowing money. A low interest rate (borrowing money is "less expensive") will let you afford more home for your dollar. When interest rates are high (borrowing money is "more expensive"), people tend to save their money. However, if you don't want to rent, don't let higher interest rates preclude you from buying your dream home. If interest rates drop, you can always refinance at a later time.
I heard from a friend at work that it is a buyer's/seller's market. Does that make this a good time to buy a house?
All other things being equal, everyone would like to buy when the prices are low, and sell when the prices are high. Often, though, home buyers don't have the luxury of waiting for a "buyer's market". There are always people needing to buy, and there are always people needing to sell. No one knows when the current market will change. If you're finding yourself going out of your way to rent longer, hoping that prices will come down more, perhaps you should think about buying.
How long does the home buying process take?
The buying process starts when you make an offer on a house and ends at "closing", after which you have the keys in-hand. On average, the buying process takes from 30-45 days. During this time, all price negotiations are done, all inspections take place and any issues resolved, and the lender has committed to loaning you the money for the home.
Should I get a home inspection?
Yes. There are several reasons why getting a home inspection is a smart choice. First, a home inspection will help determine the overall condition of the home. If there are any repairs that need to be done, it is best to uncover them prior to closing, so that you can negotiate with the seller for a repair or a credit. Second, a home inspector will inform you of necessary maintenance that you will need to do as a new homeowner. If you are a first-time homebuyer, there is a lot that you will learn! A home inspection is a very valuable tool to orient you to all of the features of your new home.
What is a pre-qualification/pre-approval letter?
A pre-qualification letter is a rough estimate of what loan amount you will be able to receive. It is based primarily on your gross income, and does not take into account your debts and expenses. For this reason, I recommend that you obtain a pre-approval letter for a more accurate assessment of what you can afford. A pre-approval letter is a document that you receive from a lender that takes into account both your income and your expenses. Having a pre-approval letter from a specific lender does NOT obligate you to obtain your home loan from that lender. Another benefit of a pre-approval letter is that it makes your offer stronger. You may have a slightly lower offer than someone else, but if the seller sees that you can obtain a loan for that amount, they may accept your lower offer because of the lower probability that the deal will fall through.