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Showing posts from May, 2008

Are You Ready?

If you find the right home - are you really prepared to make an offer?

You need to be pre-approved for a mortgage, so we know what price range to shop in and to be confident that you will qualify for a home mortgage.

But outside of the financing, have you prepared yourself mentally to make an offer on a home?

Buying a home is typically one of the largest investments a person will make. You need to be sure that this is what you want to do. I am always happy to take the time to discuss the home buying process with you - or the value of buying a home.

If you are a buying a home with another person, you also need to make sure that you are of "one mind" and on the "same page" with each other.

Occasionally I meet couples where you can tell that one person is ready to buy, while the other person is not fully committed to buying a home yet. This can lead to disappointment and frustration for one or both of you.

Give the home buying decision some serious thought, make sure you&#…

One (1) Home Instead of Two (2)

If you need to sell your current home while you are buying your new home, should you go ahead and buy?

Although each situation is unique, it is generally NOT a good idea to buy another home before your first home is sold, in our current local housing market.

I have been in many vacant homes over the past months, where the sellers have moved on to their next home without their first home being sold. Usually, this is a very stressful situation for the sellers. Many sellers have bought new construction homes and thought their home would be sold by the time their new construction was complete.

Additionally, you do not want to lose or forfeit any earnest money you put down on a house, because you were unable to sell your own home.

As a seller, you may need to sell for less than you'd like. But you will make up the difference with your new home purchase. You will end up with a good deal on your buy.

You will also have more buying power with a home close contingency versus a home sale conting…

Risk Factor

When you make an offer on a home - do you need to worry about the appraisal?

If you are buying a home and getting a mortgage, an appraisal is part of the mortgage approval.

A common concern for buyers is that they do not "overpay" for a home. Although it is not expressly stated in the purchase contract we use in the Northern Illinois area, as your buyer's agent - we can write into the contract that the home must appraise for the contract purchase price.

You may also ask your real estate attorney to add this clause to the contract during the initial five day attorney approval stage.

If the home does not appraise for the contract's purchase price, you have several options:

1. You can try to renegotiate the contract for the new appraised price.
2. You can work on cancelling the sales contract.
3. You can consult your mortgage lender about putting more money down on the house - in order to secure the home mortgage despite the lower appraisal price.

With home prices fluctuating,…

Change in Status

Depending on which Internet sites you are using to search for homes, you may find that many of the homes you like are already sold!

Here are the basic status possibilities for a home listed for sale in our Northern Illinois Multiple Listing Service:

Active - Home is available, actively for sale.

New - Home is new on the market, just listed for sale.

Reactivated - House was either under contract, the contract has been cancelled and is now back actively for sale, or was temporarily off the market and is now available for showings again.

Temp - Home is temporarily off the market, unavailable for showing appointments at this time.

A/I - Home is under contract with the contingency of attorney approval and home inspection.

HS24, HS48 or HS72 - Home is under contract with a home sale contingency. If another party wants to make a non contingent offer, notice is given to the first buyer and they must decide if they can (or want to) change their offer to a non contingent offer within 24, 48 or 72 hour…

Easy Moving Tips


Change your address online at, once you know your move date.

• Email Confirmation
• Fast, Easy & Secure
• Exclusive Mover Savings


• Get binding estimates from at least three moving companies.

• Take a photographic or video inventory of household furniture and belongings.

• Check with your insurance agent to ensure you are covered during the move.

• Make sure you have packing supplies handy: boxes, marking pen, bubble wrap, newspaper and tissue, tape, scissors and a tape measure.

• Pack one room at a time. Label each box and indicate: (a) Which room it goes in (b) If it is fragile (c) If it should be unloaded first.

• Contact gas, electric, phone and cable companies at least two weeks prior to your move.
• Arrange to have the services up and running at least one day before you move in.

• Have your utility companies and/or town do a final reading of the gas, electric and water meters.

• Prepare for the first night in your new home by packing items …

Best Time to Buy Is Now


This may be your best opportunity market in years. Mortgage interest rates are low and prices in Illinois are holding strong, making housing a solid long-term investment.

Homeownership builds wealth over time.
A $10,000 down payment on a typically priced home in
the U.S. at a typical home price appreciation of 5 percent
will return $110,000 after 10 years. The same $10,000
invested in the stock market appreciating at 10 percent
annual increases will result in $23,600.
(Source: National Association of REALTORS®)

You have plenty of options.
Those looking to buy now have an advantage with
a large inventory to choose from.

Financing is available.
Conforming loans area abundantly available at historically
favorable mortgage rates for those with good credit.
Illinois has many first-time buyer programs.

The economy is sound.

The Illinois unemployment rate is low and job gains continue.

Prices are right.
Those investing in a home and keeping it for a typical holding period
of six to ten ye…

An Eye for Numbers

Your credit score, not just another ordinary number.

Whether you are thinking of buying a home now, in the future or even if you already own a home - it is a good idea to keep track of your credit score.

A better credit score will allow you to receive a better interest rate on your home mortgage. So, again - if you are thinking of buying a home now or later, you will want to have a good credit score. If you already own a home, you may want to refinance someday or eventually move and buy another home.

Once a year, you can request a free copy of your credit report from the following sites listed below. By law, you may obtain one free report annually from each bureau.


EQUIFAX Information Service Center

Experian Consumer Assistance Center

TRANS UNION Corporation

Jim Starwalt Thinking of making a move? Log onto my website at and search the Multiple Listing Service …

Set in Stone

The closing date - is this date something I can count on?

In the Northern Illinois area, the date that is agreed to (in writing in the real estate contract) is pretty much the closing date that you can plan on.

I say "pretty much" because occasionally things happen where the closing date is moved. The most typical reasons for a closing date being changed are:

1. Your mortgage company is not ready to close on that specific date.
2. The seller has asked for a change in the closing date based on their moving situation.

Depending on your personal situation, if the seller asks for a change in the closing date and it is convenient for you, then there is not a problem. These requests are made in writing between the two parties attorneys. If it is not convenient for you, your response through your attorney would be a "no" and the sellers would need to work out a "Plan B" for themselves.

If there is a delay in your final loan approval and the mortgage company is n…