Archive for the 'Home Buyers' Category

18 Apr
(Relatively) Stress-Free Packing for a Move
Posted On : 04 18th, 2017   By : Debra Anton  |  Home Buyers
It goes something like this. You just spent the day house hunting and think you’ve found the perfect home. You’re all excited — this is it! You come home and relax and as you gaze around your current home, reality sets in: “Wait a second! If we move I’m going to have to pack up all this stuff? Forget it!”
Moving is indeed stressful in and of itself, but the packing that precedes can be absolutely overwhelming. To that end, we offer these can’t-miss tips on taking packing one step at a time.
  1. Clean House First. Seriously, are you really going to move all those board games — the ones your adult children haven’t played with since the late nineties? Ditto on the craft supplies you just know you’re going to get around to using . . . someday. We’re all guilty of moving boxes (that never get unpacked) from house to house to house, but let this move be the one where you end that cycle. Hold a garage sale, donate it to Goodwill, or just pitch it if you haven’t used it in years.
  2. Gather Your Supplies. The Alice Chin Team recently spoke to Steven Bonnischen of Prager Moving & Storage in Naperville, and he offered this suggestion: start with the biggest table in your house and put a protective covering on it, such as a plastic tablecloth. (No matter how large it is, Steve advises not using your dining room table.) Among the supplies you’ll need (other than boxes): a big stack of packing paper, bubble wrap, packing peanuts, heavy-duty packing tape, Scotch tape, thick markers, and scissors.
  3. Pack Room by Room. Start with rooms you use less frequently, such as the living room or the dining room. Pack a few boxes a day, starting well ahead of the move.
  4. Heavier at the Bottom. It may seem obvious, says Steve, but it’s worth noting. Pack heavy items at the bottom of the box and lighter items on top. And always remember to pack heavy items in the smallest box that will fit them. This will reduce the temptation to add even more items, resulting in a box that’s even more difficult to lift.
  5. The Dainty Stuff & the Tough Stuff. Do consider having a professional pack your china, crystal, and that delicate chandelier. Conversely, professionals movers and packers are often the best choice for packing extremely heavy and awkwardly shaped items such as gym equipment or computers and their tangle of cables.
  6. Do-It-Yourself Items. Items that are so personal they’re almost embarrassing? Pack them and move them yourself — if they fit in the car. It’s also wise to put important documents and records, jewelry, photo albums you wouldn’t want to be without, and even house plants in the car with you. You’ll feel safer knowing their within eyesight, whether you’re moving cross country or down the block.
  7. Label Everything. Mark all boxes with a room name and a box number. Steve strongly suggests recording the box number on a box identification log that shows the number of boxes packed per room as well as the total number of boxes packed overall. You can use the log for listing what’s in each box (“Books,” “Coffee Mugs,” Shoes”) or you can write a brief description of content on that boxes themselves.
  8. Fill Boxes Safely. Don’t overpack boxes. Use plenty of packing materials and don’t be skimpy. Don’t stuff too many items in one box. A box under 50 pounds is much easier to move, not only for the movers, but for you, as you move things around in the weeks leading up to the move.
  9. Check Box Bottoms. Make sure the bottoms of the boxes are taped securely and will hold the weight of the contents. Again, overdo it if necessary.
  10. First Night in the House. There are some items you’ll need right away. Canned goods, frozen food, your child’s favorite toy or blanket, even basic cleaning supplies. Make sure these items are clearly labeled and put on the back of the truck (keeping in mind the “last on, first off” rule) or put them in the trunk of your car (not forgetting a cooler for those frozen items!).
Packing and moving may never be fun, but with a sold game plan, the finish line of a brand new home will seem closer than ever.
15 Apr
5 Steps in the Home Loan Process
Posted On : 04 15th, 2017   By : Alice  |  First-Time Home Buyers, Home Buyers
Being a first-time home buyer is exciting . . . but nerve-wracking. And though searching for the perfect home is difficult, there are plenty of fun moments. The loan process itself? Not so fun. There’s an endless list of things to do, arcane terms to master, and personal information to provide.
The best thing you can do is to educate yourself, thereby building a mental road map of what to expect at each step along the way. To that end, we recently spoke to Ben Milam, vice president of mortgage lending at Guaranteed Rate in Naperville, Illinois. He offered the following broad overview of the five main stages that first-time home buyers will encounter as they prepare to finance that all-important first home purchase.

Step One “Get your home loan application underway early,” advises Ben. “Make sure you have your basic personal and financial information at hand when beginning your home loan application. Your credit score, current employment status, debt, and long-term financial goals will all be collected and discussed at this point in the mortgage process.”

Step Two Obtain a pre-approval.  Ben notes it’s important not to mistake a pre-approval for a pre-qualification. “A home loan pre-approval is a mortgage company’s commitment to issue a home loan for a specific property. This will be based off your employment, credit, and debt information,” he adds.

Step Three “The third stage in the mortgage process will involve various documents, such as pay stubs, W2 forms, and bank statements, so please make sure you are as prepared and as organized for the smoothest and quickest experience,” Ben notes. While you may provide documents to your home loan expert at the beginning of the mortgage process, you may also be asked for additional information at any time during the process, depending on your home loan type and financial situation. Be prepared . . . and be patient!

Step Four Once all the documents have been gathered to your loan officer’s satisfaction, an “underwriter” will review your application. “The underwriter wants to make sure that the home and property are in good condition and that you’ll be able to repay your home loan,” says Ben.

Step Five This is the big one, according to Ben. You, the sellers, your home loan expert, and possibly your attorney will decide on a date for a closing. At closing, you’ll sign even more documents. Once complete, you’ll be handed your keys and will have successfully become a home owner!

4 Apr
Real Estate Buzzwords: Buying, Selling, Who’s Who
Posted On : 04 4th, 2017   By : Alice  |  Home Buyers, Home Sellers, Real Estate

This is the first in a series of blog posts in which we’ll demystify the buzzwords of real estate. These terms are familiar to those who work in real estate but may be confusing and contradictory to “civilians” who only buy and sell homes a few times in their lives. Think of this as our version of Real Estate 101. Below are buying phrases, selling phrases, and a brief “who’s who” of all those titles we like to throw around!real-estate-clip-art-cartoons-buy-or-rent-clipart-panda-free-ONrxyp-clipart


Multiple offers: More than one buyers broker present an offer on one property where the offers are negotiated at the same time.

Net sales price: Gross sales price, less concessions, to the buyers.

Offer to purchase: When a buyer proposes certain terms and presents these terms to the seller.

Preview appointment: When a buyer’s agent views a property alone to see if it meets his or her buyer’s needs.

Walk-through: A showing before closing or escrow that permits the buyers one final tour of the property they are purchasing.


Broker’s tour: A preset time and day when real estate sales agents can view listings by multiple brokerages in the market.

Disclosures: Federal, state, county, and local requirements of disclosure that the seller provides and the buyer acknowledges.

Exclusions: Fixtures or personal property that are excluded from the contract or offer to purchase.

Inclusions: Fixtures or personal property that are included in a contract or offer to purchase.

List price: The price of a property through a listing agreement.

Listing agreement: A document that establishes the real estate agent’s agreement with the sellers to represent their property in the market.

Listing exclusion: A clause included in the listing agreement when the seller (transferee) lists his or her property with a broker.

Open house (public): When a listing that is on market is available to the public for viewings and showings.

Relist: A property that was listed with another broker and is now relisted with a new broker.

Showing: When a listing is shown to prospective buyers or the buyer’s agent, in which case it’s called a preview.

Sign rider: An additional sign placed on a brokerage yard sign; it may include the agent’s name, “open Sunday,” “contract pending,” “sold,” the new price, and so on.


Back-up agent: A licensed agent who works with clients when their agent is unavailable.

Broker: A state licensed individual who acts as the agent for the seller or buyer.

Buyer agent: The agent who shows the buyer’s property, negotiates the contract or offer for the buyer, and works with the buyer to close the transaction.

Dual agent: A state-licensed individual who represents the seller and the buyer in a single transaction.

Inside sales agent: A real estate team member who services inbound leads generated from sign calls and other internet sources. Converts these leads to appointments for the team’s sales agents.

Listing agent: The real estate sales agent that is representing the sellers and their property, through a listing agreement.

Mortgage banker: One who lends the bank’s funds to borrowers and brings lenders and borrowers together

Showing assistant: Team member who schedules showings, shows homes to prospective buyers, follows up with buyers after showings, finds new properties to show, and keep tracks of where clients are in the buying process.

Transaction coordinator: Handles all the details of transactions from purchase agreement to ensure an on-time closing. Coordinates title/escrow, mortgage loan and appraisal processes as well as scheduling inspections and coordinating any possible repairs.

30 Mar
Buying New Construction? You Still Need an Agent!
Posted On : 03 30th, 2017   By : Alice  |  Home Buyers, New Construction
After months of delving deeply into every real estate website on the internet — possibly even working with an agent and visiting many, many homes — you’ve come to the sad conclusion that your dream home isn’t on the market. Ah, but that cute new subdivision down the road — the one that’s really close to that good elementary school? There’s one model there that’s just perfect!
So what do you do? You stroll into the model home that also serves as the builder’s sales center. You’re greeted by a salesperson who reminds you a little bit of that agent you were working with. So warm! So friendly! So knowledgeable! And oh, the fun of all those selections! What cabinets do you like? Which lot? Best of all, which elevation?
You’re already to sign on the dotted line when . . . STOP! What are you doing? Are you actually thinking of making the most important and expensive purchase of your life without professional representation? Tsk, tsk, tsk!
Remember: the on-site salesperson represents the builder. Who represents you?  In order to ensure the best price, make the process run smoothly, and troubleshoot innumerable problems along the way — in short, to make the sales experience a good one — you’ll need expert advice long before you call in your attorney for closing.
Blog - New Construction Agent
Here’s a checklist of things to consider when getting a buyer’s agent involved in your new construction purchase.
  • Real estate agents are licensed professionals, bound by law and professional ethics. A builder’s rep, while certainly not the “bad guy” is not bound by anything — other than pleasing the boss.
  • Ask a few tough questions of the agent you’re thinking of working with. Have they represented buyers in the new home sales process before? The process is somewhat different than a traditional real estate transaction in which the agent takes buyers from home to home, so make sure you’re working with an authority on the matter.
  • Early in the process, let the builder know you’re working with an agent. Make sure they have the agent’s contact info — a business card will suffice.
  • No, the house will not cost you more if you get a buyer’s agent involved.  The builder will pay that standard 3% commission. In fact, in many markets, builders are paying bonuses and incentives to agents above the standard commission structure. Builders are familiar with what they bring to the table.
  • Think builders don’t negotiate? Think again. An agent will know best which points are negotiable — and obviously, they have the necessary skills and training to negotiate since they do it for a living.
  • From the initial sales contract to any riders along the way, do not sign any paperwork without your agent reviewing and advising.
  • An agent can keep written documentation of all upgrades and features you requested — and even remind you to ask for things you didn’t know were available. Along the way, your agent will warn you of any hidden or unexpected costs that may pop up.
  • During the sales process, an agent can ask questions you might not consider. Are prices going up when the next phase of lots is released? Is it possible to use suppliers other than the ones featured in the model home? How are builder concessions being applied? Are additional warranties available?
  • An agent will insist on and manage the process of a home inspection. Yes, a home inspection — they’re not just for older or existing homes. Many buyers of new construction believe that by purchasing a home warranty or compiling a “To Do” list for the builder at six month and one year anniversaries, they’re covered. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Just because a home is brand new doesn’t mean mistakes aren’t being made during construction — possibly, lots of them. A reputable home inspector — recommended by your buyer’s agent — will discover these problems before closing.
  • Along with your attorney, your agent can smooth all the details leading up to the closing by asking who pays for what. Title costs, inspections, warranties, and surveys are all a part of new home construction costs, too.
So have all the fun you want choosing tile, faucets, and siding. Just remember that a buyer’s agent will reduce your frustration and get you the best price possible. And what’s not to like about that?