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A good homebuyer is always prepared

If you’re a first-time buyer or you’re upgrading to a new home, your motto should be “sooner rather than later.”

It is never too early to start doing your research, whether it’s on the internet or taking that late night drive through a desired area. Some internet sites offer detailed information on school districts, taxes, dining, parks, and much, much more.

To surround yourself with a knowledgeable team, you also have to do your research. That team should include a Realtor, loan officer, attorney and home inspector. A Realtor can assist you in finding homes along with pricing and recent sales data within your desired area. The loan officer will assist in securing funds for your purchase. There are attorneys that specialize in real estate, and will provide information on the legal aspect of the purchase. Many times, these individuals will have a Facebook page or can easily be found online by simply entering their full name into a search engine.

“Cash is King,” so start saving now! Most buyers don’t realize when purchasing a home that you’ll need more money than just your down payment. Although the down payment makes up the bulk of the funds needed to purchase, you’ll also have closing costs that could add up to thousands of dollars, and most of the time these funds cannot be financed. You’d be surprised how that morning cup of joe for $5 can add up on the course of a year. That money could go toward an unexpected repair or that new entertainment center you’ve been eyeing!

Many buyers overlook their credit reports until it’s too late. Paying your bills on time, all the time, and never co-signing for someone else’s cell phone, credit cards, or other loans are all keys to establishing a firm financial footing. So many times, a loan officer will hear the excuse that an outstanding bill is not yours because you just co-signed for a friend, ex, or a relative. To that, I say, “You’re wrong!” In the end, it’s your responsibility. On the other hand, you don’t want to eliminate credit completely. Do not cancel any cards or pay off any loans until you meet with a qualified loan officer.

If you are looking to purchase a foreclosure or short sale, give yourself a minimum of six months. Make sure you consider potential repairs, since many of these are distressed properties and are sold in as-is condition. Your Realtor can help you make an informed choice regarding which type of properties to target based on your needs and budget.

Finally, start getting your current residence ready. If you rent, let your landlord know your plans. Also, people often throw away items that they believe to be junk as they gear up for a move. Instead, plan early and have a yard sale and put a little extra money in your pocket. Remember! One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!

Remember, you can never do enough research and planning if you want your journey toward homeownership to go smoothly.

About Giuseppe Zerillo

Giuseppe Zerillo is the managing broker and owner of Zerillo Realty Inc. He is active on many boards, serving as sergeant-at-arms for the village of Harwood Heights and corporate secretary for Casa Italia. In 2011, he received the IANU Foundation’s 2011 David Award for outstanding promise in the field of real estate, and in 2012 he was honored by the Illinois State Crime Commission for his community outreach. Constantly seeking opportunities to give back, he donates to several charities and raises money for children with disabilities.