Buying Your First Home? Start Here.

Buying Your First Home? Start Here.

Purchasing your first home is an incredible feeling, as years of hard work and planning finally come to fruition. However, if you are not entirely financially prepared for this purchase you could find yourself in over your head quite quickly. A home is by far one of the most important purchases, and the most expensive, you may ever make. This means you should make every effort to ensure you are ready for this step; a bit of extra preparation before purchasing allows you the confidence to enjoy your new purchase for years to come. 

What Can You Afford?

You may have mastered the world of renting, but homeownership is a whole different ball game. It’s important to take the proper time to make sure what you are buying is affordable given your current financial position. 

Take the time to pay off as much debt as you can. This step not only improves your savings but also increases your credit score to help get a better interest rate on your mortgage. Remember, being a homeowner isn’t just about paying a mortgage. There are other additional costs associated with homeownership to consider. Take the time to calculate real estate taxes, homeowner’s insurance, HOA dues, and any home improvements that may pop up unexpectedly. Once you’ve mulled over these factors, you can honestly evaluate your bank accounts to see if you have the funds to pay for your home, extra costs, and still have enough to feel comfortable. 

Do Your Research

You may have found the perfect home at the perfect price but is it a perfect location? There are plenty of considerations to make before rushing into any home purchase. You can make a more confident decision if you do your research before and during the purchasing process.

Drive around the neighborhood and the others close by. Make sure you are comfortable with the location, would you feel safe out for a walk or playing in the yard? Are there parks nearby or park district facilities? How are the school districts, do they have good reviews, are they close to the home? What about shopping, can you walk to the shops or will it be a long drive? Make sure you are purchasing a home that has the amenities and neighborhood that best suits your current and future needs.

Get a Good Team Together

Since this is by far the most important (and expensive) purchase you may have made to date, it is important to have professionals at your side to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible. Finding a seasoned realtor can help ensure that you are getting the best deal you can find. A realtor can find you exactly what you want, taking into consideration your expectations and what you can afford. A good realtor also helps with mortgage questions, interest rates, and loan types. 

Having an experienced real estate attorney at your closing can give you the peace of mind that all documents will be ready and that each step will run smoothly and efficiently.

If you find you are ready to purchase your first home give the professionals at Bell Law a call. There is always someone available to answer any questions you may have about the buying process and can help make this life-changing step as easy as possible.

Should I Have an Inspection Prior to Putting My Home on the Market?

Should I Have an Inspection Prior to Putting My Home on the Market?

While it may be commonplace for the buyer of a home to order the inspection after putting an offer on a home or property, some sellers are choosing to invest in an inspection before putting their home on the market. Having a heads up on major issues can help improve the sale of your home and increase the time in which it takes to close.

What Do Inspectors Look For?

Most home inspectors have seven major items they inspect in a home during the inspection process. Those include water damage, structural issues, electrical issues, plumbing, pest infestations, roof damage, and HVAC issues. 

The main goal of an inspector is to identify any health, safety, and major mechanical issues. They will inspect both the interior and exterior of the home, so it is important to remember that proper yard maintenance can play a big part in maintaining your home as well.

How Can an Inspection Help a Seller?

When you have decided it is time to move on and put your home up for sale, you may already have your next perfect home picked out and waiting for you. If you could cut the time it takes to sell and most importantly close on your home, why not try. 

Having a pre-inspection can give the seller a heads up regarding any major issues that need to be addressed in the home before putting the home on the market. This can allow you to have any issues corrected in advance of the sale which can allow you to list for a higher amount and cut out most of the time it takes to haggle about home issues with potential buyers. Not only can this be beneficial for the seller, but it also sends a message to the buyer that the homeowner cared for the home and was on top of any potential issues, making the buyer more confident in their decision.

Selling your home can come with many challenges and it can be helpful to have professionals to turn to with any concerns and questions you may have. This is where the friendly experts at Bell Law come in handy. They can guide you through the selling process and advise you as to what steps would be most beneficial to you to help get your home sold fast and efficiently.

What Does a Real Estate Lawyer Do for Buyers and Sellers?

What Does a Real Estate Lawyer Do for Buyers and Sellers?

If you are in the market to purchase or sell a property, even if you have done it before, the process can be overwhelming, time-consuming, and downright confusing. Sure, it is exciting as well, but the truth is that you need to be confident in making the best decision possible. Most homeowners and future homeowners don’t know the ins and outs of real estate law or expectations. 

It is imperative that you find a team of professionals who can give you the information you need while expertly guiding you through the process. While most people know to include a Realtor on their team, too many forget the importance of partnering with an attorney. It is incredibly beneficial to have a real estate attorney to guide you through the process.

Benefits to Sellers

A real estate attorney is there to protect your best interests and make sure all bases are covered as you sell your home or property. It is easy to get overwhelmed and stressed out during the sale of your property, but having the right real estate attorney on your side can help ease this burden and get you to closing quickly. For sellers, the real estate attorney is there to make sure all necessary paperwork is in order, from signing the contract to closing. They ensure the selling process runs smoothly with no surprises. If there are surprises, your attorney will guide you through it and provide advice that puts your interests at the forefront.

Benefits to Buyers

Oftentimes, buyers carry the brunt of the work in the home buying process. A real estate attorney is there to protect one of the most important, and expensive, purchases of your life. They are responsible for ensuring all documents are in order, and that title searches and transfer of funds are completed correctly. They can also help during the inspection process, should there be any issues. Further, having experienced legal representation at closing can help ease your mind that your purchase will be done correctly and in a timely manner.

real estate attorney is a definite asset for both buyers and sellers. At the end of the day, if something goes wrong on either end, you have a professional ready to take care of any problems and get the process back on track. 

If you are finding yourself looking to buy or sell make sure to give the experienced professionals at Bell Law a call. They are available to answer any questions or concerns you may have to get the process started the right way.

How Coronavirus Is Affecting the Real Estate Market

How Coronavirus Is Affecting the Real Estate Market

Life as we know it has taken quite an unexpected turn due to the coronavirus pandemic. All aspects of daily life have been affected in one way or another, including the ability to buy or sell a home. Fortunately, the real estate market has seen tough times before and, in some ways, has been better prepared for this than many other businesses.

National vs. Local Market

While some areas have been hit quite hard by this pandemic, the local market seems to be adjusting quite well. In Illinois, real estate has been classified as an essential business, but otherwise, normal business operations have changed immensely.  

Once known as a very hands-on, face to face, profession, the market has shifted to contactless video tours and drive-by showings. However, local realtors are still optimistic that once the stay at home order has been, lifted things will quickly return to normal. 

Even though Chicago based realtors have seen the number of homes available to sellers decrease, they have also noted that motivated buyers are taking advantage of low-interest rates to get the dream home they may not have had the opportunity to get before. Not every city is as lucky as Chicago though, as New York City is struggling to get any sort of transaction going. Since most of the real estate in New York City are apartments and condos it has been virtually impossible to have any kind of showings. To complicate matters further,  most virtual showings must rely on previously shot footage that wasn’t necessarily meant for that purpose, which doesn’t give the best impression of the property for sale. To make things worse, some buildings will not allow brokers or buyers into the property for any reason. This has made any transaction incredibly difficult.

Buying and Selling During Questionable Times

It’s no secret that purchasing a home is a huge undertaking in the most normal of times. While there is always the chance for some surprises during your purchase or sale, no one could have predicted this global pandemic. 

Just before this pandemic hit, many buyers and sellers were merely days away from closing. Unfortunately, they learned later their closing fell through due to changing mortgage rates and complications. Some lenders have gone out of business due to the pandemic as well, leaving buyers and sellers in limbo with no option but to cancel or start the process all over again. 

The uncertainty of what the future may hold is scaring off many buyers as well. With unemployment at an all-time high, it is difficult to be confident that your job is secure enough to get a mortgage. This has also put sellers in a hard position not knowing if it is worth it to keep the house on the market or wait until things improve.

While things may seem grim, the silver lining is that the real estate market has been hit before and bounced back. The same will be true this time around. Buyer and seller confidence will continue to increase over time. Real estate has always been about patience and timing, two things we all have plenty of these days. 

If you find yourself in the market to buy or sell do not hesitate to reach out to the professionals at Bell Law for any questions or concerns you may have. We are here to advocate for your during the process.

What Happens During a Real Estate Closing?

What Happens During a Real Estate Closing?

Congratulations you bought a house! Homeownership is exciting every time, whether this is your first house purchase or your tenth. However, along with the excitement comes a lot of uncertainty. Will the home pass inspection? Will the paperwork process go smoothly? Will the closing be easy? 

Closing on a house is certainly an exciting time. However, it can get frustrating if you aren’t properly prepared. Knowing the steps involved, documents needed and time it will take can make the whole process run more smoothly. You’ll also feel more confident the more you know about the process.

The First Few Steps

You’ve found your dream house and agreed with the seller on a price. But what happens now? The time you are under contract for a home purchase to your closing date can take 4-8 weeks to complete. That can seem like an eternity when all you want to do is move into your new home. However, you and the seller need this time to prepare for the transaction.

During this time, you will want to set up a third-party escrow account to cover closing costs and the down payment. This time prior to closing will also be a time for the home inspector to visit the home and make any recommendations. You’ll have time to negotiate the findings as well, asking the seller to make any repairs as needed.

Approaching the Closing Date              

As the big day approaches you will need to ensure all home inspections have been completed and passed. Any repairs that the seller had agreed to must be done to your satisfaction, as per any negotiation. 

As the closing date approaches, it is time to revise or increase your home insurance policy. If you haven’t owned a home before, you will be starting from scratch. If you have homeowner insurance currently, you will need to work with your agent to adjust the parameters for your new home.

Finally, during these last few weeks prior to closing, be cautious with your spending. Avoid any major purchases or opening any new lines of credit. Lenders and sellers do not typically like abrupt changes and major financial activity can cause a delay in your closing. 

The Day of the Closing

The final walkthrough is finished, all repairs are done, and now it’s time to close. Be sure you are prepared with a cashier’s check for the down payment and any closing costs. You will also want to bring along your checkbook for any additional fees or costs that arise during the process.

The closing process can be confusing, and there is a lot of paperwork involved. You can feel more confident that your best interests are taken into account when you work with a real estate attorney. At Bell Law, we excel at real estate transactions, meaning our clients have no surprises during their closing dates. We are there during the closing process to make sure everything runs efficiently and to explain what is happening to our clients. Our team is also there to negotiate any additional fees or costs that pop up during the process.

You don’t have to wait for your closing or contract to work with our experienced team of attorneys. Instead, call us as you begin your home search so that we can advocate for you throughout the entire process.

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