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It’s not your father’s real estate market. Tighter lending guidelines, bidding wars, condo buildings with drama - these make up the new real estate reality. Buying a home is trickier these days. You need an agent with local insight, armed with cutting-edge technology and supported by strong industry contacts.
Hi, we're Access Chicago Realty. Nice to meet you.
What to know when buying a home
Access agents are experts at clarifying your questions. Here are some of the ones we get all the time.
Do I need a 20% down payment to buy a home?
No, in fact, about half of our buyers put down less than 20%. It's very common for buyers to secure conventional financing for 5 or 10% down. Your Access agent can advise you of the pros and cons of each kind of financing and introduce you to a great lender.
How long does it take to buy a home?
About 90-120 days, start to finish. Most people find a home within 2-3 weeks of serious searching. Once under contract, it takes 30-60 days to secure financing and close.
What is earnest money?
Earnest money is a deposit you make with the seller's attorney or real estate agency when you sign a contract. It let's the seller know you're serious about your offer and that you have some skin in the game. In Chicago, buyers usually put down a small ($1,000 to $2,500) deposit when the seller signs the contract, then a larger deposit (up to 5% of the purchase price) after the attorney review and inspection period is over.
Why do I need an attorney?
Most real estate contracts are standard forms with only slight variations from transaction to transaction, and most mortgage documents aren't up for negotiation. So why hire an attorney? Because every home purchase is different. And that form you're signing is committing you to the largest investment you'll likely ever make. You might want to have an attorney - one who's done hundreds of closings - give it a once over, eh?
Can I get my earnest money back?
Short answer - Yes. Usually. The contract you'll sign has several contingencies that must be waived, including inspection, attorney review, and mortgage approval. If your inspector finds major issues with the home that the seller can't correct, your attorney can cancel the contract and request the return of your earnest money. The same goes for any major issues you find when you learn more about the condo association. Finally, if you can't get approved for a mortgage under the terms specified in the contract, you can usually cancel the contract without penalty.
What if I just plain change my mind? Can I bail on the contract and get my earnest money back then?
What happens if my home appraises for less than I agreed to pay for it?
This isn't fun. But it happens. In this lending environment, there is tremendous pressure on appraisers to be very conservative when valuing homes. If an appraisal comes through two low, we'll have three options 1) Pay the difference out of your pocket, 2) Ask the seller to lower their price to the appraised value, or 3) Split the difference. In some cases you may also be able to restructure your financing.