Buyer Checklist:

Before Buying Process:  

◊Get pre-approved from a reputable local lender vs playing Russian Roulette on the internet (Ask your realtor for a referral).
◊If you have a good realtor, they should have a lender with whom they do multiple deals a year with. Ask for a referral.
◊Have your lender run your credit right away to see if there are any surprises. If problems arise, do an immediate credit cleansing.
◊Be where, there are many credit fix it shops out there that will take $150 a month from you. Get a reputable referral.
◊If financing your home you’ll need a written pre-approval and proof of funds (POF), If Cash buyer just POF.   
◊A preapproval letter from your lender will demonstrate your viability as a buyer (good edge, when you bid or have a bidding war).
◊Determine what you NEED in your next home versus what you want and include the following information:
    Price range, Town(s), House, Style, Schools, SQ Ft, Bedrooms, Baths, Basement, Garage, Lot, Updated, Rehab candidate.
◊Consider your Area(s) commute to work, how close to Family, babysitter(s), school(s), special needs, train, town, parks etc.
◊Determine if you should use a realtor. A Realtor can send you properties direct, show you comparable sold properties before  
    you offer & negotiate, provide insight into the neighborhood, and help you choose the right location for your short and long term
    Goals. Realtors have years of experience and can help you have a stress free and enjoyable experience.
◊Interview your realtor to represent you as a Buyer’s Agent (see “Buyer’s Agent Interview Questions”).  Look for a professional with
    years of experience that is big on communication and has chemistry.
◊Have your Realtor set you up on a direct Multiple Listing Service (MLS) search that emails you properties with your criteria every  
   12 hours. MLS has the most accurate and up to date (live) data available. Public sites like Zillow are useful but often lag behind
   Hours or days compared to the MLS data your realtor can provide.
◊If you don’t have a realtor, you can use other websites to search for homes such as:,,,  
    RE/,,, etc.
◊Save the properties that interest you and do a little research on the area(s) to see how they fit your plans.
◊The great properties sell to the buyers that get to them first, So keep an eye on properties twice a day (take action).
◊When you find one you want to see up an appointment through your agent ASAP.
◊You’ll know the right property because it will talk to you immediately. Ask as many questions as you want.
◊Ask your realtor to send you comparable sold properties so you can establish the right offer on the one you want.
◊You can do a safety check on for a crime and safety report on the area you’re considering.
◊Make a list of things that need to be replaced or repaired in the home. If you have a realtor, they can assist you in determining
    additional costs associated with the items on your list, upkeep, and maintenance. Traditionally a home inspection is done after  
    you get a sales contract signed.
◊When you find the right home your realtor will have you sign and initial a Sales Contract & property disclosures.
◊Your agent should package your offer, disclosures, Pre-approval and POF with an email cover letter selling your offer.
◊Negotiations usually take a few hours to a few days based on the listing price and your offer amount.
◊One note about negotiations is the lower the price you offer the longer the negotiation, and chance for another offer to come in.
◊You can use to view any property from a cool aerial view and see the area.
◊Research utility costs for a property. Just call the utility company like ComEd or Nicor for an average monthly bill.
◊Research moving companies and ask your realtor for a local moving company referral. (Get availability and pricing).
◊Do research on any special or proposed assessments that are attached to the property you are looking at.

During Sale Process:

◊Once your offer is signed by the seller your 5 day attorney approval starts and you need to move swiftly.
◊You should have a copy of the fully signed contract and riders sent to you, your lender and attorney immediately.
◊You have to set up your home inspection, finalize your mortgage and make sure your appraisal is ordered.
◊A home inspection is a road map for the future maintenance of your home. Never purchase a home without one.
    A great home inspector will be able to look through walls to determine if there is insulation and any moisture, check all your  
    electrical outlets and panels to see if there is anything that can harm you, examine your furnace and hot water heater, look for
    carbon monoxide leaks, etc.  You should receive a 20-30 page comprehensive report with photos. The report will serve as a legal
    document to get things fixed by the owner or as a credit for repairs at closing.
◊Do you need a termite inspection or lead paint inspection on the home?  Ask your home inspector for his thoughts.
◊Talk about and negotiate any inspection items with your agent / attorney that you feel should be fixed in the home.
◊If you’re buying a condo or town home ask for the HOA President, bi-laws, budget, newsletter, meeting minutes etc.
◊If schools are important call the schools & district office to confirm that the schools are what is stated in the MLS.
◊Research any proposed special assessments on the home you are buying so there are no surprises (shouldn’t you know
    these things prior to making an offer?).
◊Call your lender twice a week and ask what else they need for a “Clear to close” then get it to them immediately
◊I can’t stress it enough to contact your lender and keep a log two times a week. They need things constantly.
◊The #1 delay of mortgage approval and closing on time is lenders needing and getting documents from a buyer.
◊Ask your realtor for a great insurance agent to get a homeowners policy with a paid receipt 2 weeks before closing.
◊Call your attorney once a week to touch base and give them your loan information update.
◊Coordinate your moving company with your closing date and include your realtor in your timing and plan.
◊Once you get a “Clear to close” from your lender you’re ready to schedule your closing through your attorney.
◊ Schedule your Final walk-thru with your agent usually the day of closing when the house is empty.
◊Call all utility companies and have them bill you through the day of closing (buyer utilities start the day after close).
◊Partial list to change over Gas, Electric, Phone, Cable, Sewer, Water, Subscriptions, Online shopping address.       
◊Your lender or attorney will give you the final figure that you need to get a cashier’s check for, the day before closing.
◊If closing is 10am schedule your walkthrough for 8:30am to 9:00am and use our “Final walkthrough checklist”.
◊During your walk through make sure everything is the same as you saw it and any repairs have been completed.
◊Bring all your paperwork, cashier’s check and paid home owners insurance policy to your closing.
◊At your closing you will sign all your documents with your attorney and realtor by your side.
◊You should leave your closing with a HUD1, a copy of all the documents you signed, a survey and your new home!

After Sale Process:

◊Make sure your realtor gives you an awesome gift basket thanking you for your business and friendship.
◊Keep in touch and ask us if you need an electrician, plumber, handyman, etc., we have resources!
◊Protest and get your property taxes reduced by hiring an attorney to do it. Your realtor should be able to refer some to you.
◊Your realtor should keep you informed on housing trends and give you an annual updated market analysis.
◊Before doing any major post-sale renovations, get multiple opinions from people close to you and live in the home for a minimum
   of six months. You don’t want to jeopardize long-term value on a whim.  The bottom line is, take your time and do your research.  
   There are many resources available online that will help you determine whether or not a renovation is a good investment. ◊Congratulations! The challenge for finding a new home is over! Pat yourself on the back and enjoy life.