Answers to your top questions


FAQ About Selling

Preparing your home for sale can be very stressful. Remember, paint is your friend. Outside and inside, a little paint can dramatically refresh the look of your home. Make sure the yard is neat and the garden flowerbeds are weeded and trimmed. Eliminating clutter inside your home is very important. Remove family photos and personal knick knacks. If you have major repair items, such as a leaky roof or an HVAC system that is on its last legs, you may need to replace or repair them. Try to look at your house the way a buyer would. Ask a friend to take a look at it and give you their opinion. Hire a stager if your home is considered luxury.

Selling a home yourself can save you money in theory. A study by the National Association of Realtors shows that using an agent versus selling your home by yourself nets you an average 25% higher price. On a $200,000 home that amounts to $50,000. Real estate professionals can help you price your home effectively for your market, they know the legal aspects of selling a home, they help negotiate, they can let their broker networks know that your home is on the market, and they know the most effective sales and marketing strategies. On the whole, you are better off hiring a broker to sell your home.

Pricing your home so that it reflects its true market value is crucial for a successful sale. Most real estate brokers agree that the biggest mistake that sellers make is pricing their home too high. Your broker will create a Comparative Market Analysis for your home that shows other homes similar to yours in your market that are for sale and have recently sold. Based on market activity, they will recommend a price range that makes sense where you can choose from a high, low and middle price range.

The Chicago area has seen the median price of a home rise 10.3% in the last year, making 2024 a great time to capture the equity in your home and trade up. As always, the right time to sell your home is when you want or need to. But if you have been thinking of trading up or retiring to a warmer climate, now may be the time.

The first step to figuring out what price you might get for your home is to work with a local real estate broker who will do a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). A CMA is a detailed look at the market in your area showing similar homes to yours (in terms of size, features, and rooms) and what they have sold for or are currently listed for. Usually, a Broker will use homes that have listed or sold in the previous 3 to 6 months. From this information, a range of possible prices can be established, from low to high. Your broker can advise you on the right pricing strategy based on current market conditions.

FAQ About Buying

There are several components to this question. First, what is your motivation for buying a home? If your family is growing and you need more space, then the answer is yes. Moving for practical reasons or because your lifestyle is changing makes sense. We are now in a sellers’ market. Inventory is low and prices are rising. But we are seeing the inventory of homes increasing and many economists forecast that price increases will slow down to a more “normal” market. Mortgage interest rates are at historic lows, making buying attractive. Buying now also allows you to capture the appreciation that the housing market is experiencing. You must do what is right for your situation. But we have over 600 experienced brokers who can help. Contact us and we will be glad to put you in touch with one.

It is common to say that when you are renting you are paying your landlords mortgage. One of the biggest positive aspects of buying a home is building equity. But there are good reasons to rent as well. If you don’t have a big enough down payment and will be cash strapped once you buy, it may be a better idea to wait and save more for your down payment. Renting gives you greater mobility and if there is a maintenance problem your landlord pays for it.

Closing costs typically range from 2% to 5% of the purchase price. These costs vary by county so it is best to talk to a Starck broker to get a more accurate estimate.

You can change your mind up to the point when all contingencies are removed. But changing your mind at the last minute is very stressful for everyone involved in the transaction. The best way to avoid this situation is to know the neighborhood and what type of home you want to purchase. If you find a home that meets your needs and desires you are more likely to want to follow through on the purchase.

The minimum FICO score to buy a home using a conventional loan is 620 and with a VA loan 580. However, before you decide not to buy talk to a loan officer. There are many types of loan programs and it is easier to qualify than you think.

Interest rates are currently much higher than they have been in years. This is because of inflation. The Federal Reserve Bank started raising interest rates to slow the economy and fight inflation. Inflation reached a high point in July 2022 and has been steadily coming down. As inflation comes under control, mortgages will become more affordable. Home prices continue to rise so waiting for interest rates to fall may not be the best strategy because you can miss out on equity gains. If you are in the right financial position and want to buy a home, now may be a good time.

Mortgage loan insurance protects the lender against default in payments by the homebuyer. If the buyer has a down payment of less than 20 per cent of the purchase price, the lender will purchase default insurance and pass that cost on to the borrower.

All economic signs indicate that the housing market will remain strong for the foreseeable future. The housing crash of 2008 was caused by homeowners overburdened with debt and with little or no equity in their homes. A study done by CoreLogic showed that the average American now has over $200,000 worth of equity in their home, for a total of $21 trillion. The high level of home equity protects owners from falling prices. The bellwether of the housing market is employment and the US economy has seen a steady improvement in employment numbers. But the biggest reason homes will not fall in value any time soon is the lack of inventory. This puts upward pressure on prices. Challenges remain in the economy and market corrections are inevitable. But in the next year, a housing market crash is seen as unlikely.

FAQ About QuickBuy®

If you would like to receive an immediate offer for your home in a few simple steps and avoid listing your home, showing your home, preparing it for market or maintaining a showing-ready home, then a stress-free QuickBuy® Offer may be the ideal solution.

There is no cost to receive a QuickBuy® offer.

Contact your participating real estate agent.

Enjoy the professional guidance of a trusted agent as well as the certainty of a reliable cash buyer. If you’re planning to buy a home as well, QuickBuy® gives you the advantage of making a non-contingent cash offer on your next home.

You may also save on the following:
• Carrying costs while the home is listed, such as utilities and taxes
• The time and expense of preparing the house for market
• Home-staging fees
• Duplicate mortgages if your home doesn’t sell before you buy your next home

Since the QuickBuy® offer is based on accurate market research, not internet “guesstimates” or algorithms, it typically takes one to two business days for your agent to present the offer after the home visit.

FAQ About Mortgage

The answer will depend upon many factors, including your goals in buying a home and your current financial situation. For example, you may have a low down payment, so you might want to consider government programs like VA or FHA. These allow for down payments ranging from 0% to 3.5%. Be aware that down payments under 20% require the purchase of mortgage insurance, which will be added to your monthly mortgage. If you are buying a luxury property you might be looking at a jumbo loan if you need to borrow more than the conventional loan limit of $548,250. If you are in good financial shape with a large down payment you may want to consider a 10 or 15 year conventional loan. If you are seeking a lower payment, you may wish to consider an adjustable-rate mortgage. These typically have lower interest rates, so your payment will be lower. The best place to start is to ask a mortgage professional what type of loan will work for your circumstances.

Today’s real estate market is very competitive, with multiple offers being the norm. In order to be considered by home sellers you need to show that you are ready to close quickly. Getting pre-qualified also gives you a budget when you search for a home. This will allow you to focus on those homes that fit your financial circumstances.

Federal law requires all lenders to determine whether a property is in a special flood hazard area as determined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). If your property is included in a flood hazard area, you will be required to have flood insurance coverage. Should this occur, your lender will contact you directly to go over what is needed.

The closing will take place at a title company. You will sign several loan documents and the sellers will sign immediately after you. Between the signings, you will exchange keys, garage door openers, etc. Normally, the attendees at the closing are the buyer, seller, both the selling and listing brokers, attorneys representing the buyer and seller, and the lender. Buyers have their down payment wired to the title company. The documents you will sign at the closing are:

  • Closing Disclosure – this comprehensive document lays out the loan terms, estimated total closing costs, and includes any applicable disclosures.
  • Note – this is the document you sign to promise to repay your mortgage loan. The note will provide you with all the details of your loan such as the rate, principal and interest payments, length of loan, etc. It also explains the penalties if you do not make your payments as agreed.
  • Mortgage – this document is recorded at the courthouse and places a lien on your home. The mortgage will state your rights and the lender’s rights in case of default as well as restate the terms of the Note.

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