Frequently Asked Questions

Buying

Is it better to buy or to rent?

This depends on your individual situation. If you don’t plan on being in a place for more than a few years, renting may make more sense. If you’re in an especially hot, rising market, you may be able to buy, do some updates, and sell for a profit in a few years.

You also have to consider if you’re ready for the responsibilities of homeownership. There are a lot of items that you’ll need to maintain now, with no landlord to call. However, in the long run, it is always better to buy as rent prices will continue to rise at a faster rate then your monthly PITI payments which will rise fairly slowly (depending on property taxes, or if you refinance at some point).

Do I need to be pre-approved before looking to buy?

While it’s not an absolute must, most people aren’t aware of how much buying power they have when looking for a new home. Or, the overestimate what they think they can afford before taking into consideration other debt obligations.

I always recommend all buyers to get pre-approved before seriously looking for a home. Feel free to look at some open houses while feeling out the market. But if you’re in a position where you could make an offer if the right place comes along, you’ll want to have that pre-approval handy as most agents will want to see one before presenting the offer to the sellers.

The other important reason to have a pre-approval is so buyers don’t waste any time looking at places that are above or below their actual budget. You could miss out on the ideal place!

When is the best time to buy?

Chicago real estate is extremely seasonal with the majority of the properties coming on the market between Super Bowl Sunday and Memorial Day weekend. This is not to say this is the only time to buy. This is also when there is the most competition with other buyers. So while you have a greater inventory to choose from (generally), it may be harder to secure a property if you’re in a multiple bid situation or someone gets their offer accepted first.

However, the best time to buy real estate is when YOU are ready, willing, and able. It’s a process not to be rushed, and you should be financially stable while knowing you plan to stay for at least 3 to 5 years in your next home.

Renting

Is it better to buy or to rent?

This depends on your individual situation. If you don’t plan on being in a place for more than a few years, renting may make more sense. If you’re in an especially hot, rising market, you may be able to buy, do some updates, and sell for a profit in a few years.

You also have to consider if you’re ready for the responsibilities of homeownership. There are a lot of items that you’ll need to maintain now, with no landlord to call. However, in the long run, it is always better to buy as rent prices will continue to rise at a faster rate then your monthly PITI payments which will rise fairly slowly (depending on property taxes, or if you refinance at some point).

When is the best time to rent?

As with buying, Chicago is very seasonal with renting apartments. They fly off the shelves in May, but linger in December. It’s simple: no one wants to move in the winter unless they have to. Add in the holidays and the fact that most people graduate school in May, and you can see why there is a skew toward the spring/summer.

If you can get on a winter leasing schedule, you stand to save a lot of money over the long term. Not only can you get significant discounts on rent in the winter months, but often you can get a month or two free, six months free parking, or other incentives. Rent prices can vary by 20% or more sometimes when you compare the average price in May vs. December. It’s simple supply and demand.

So if you can swing it, aim for a December/January/February lease date and stay on that cycle until you’re ready to buy.

Selling

When should I sell my home in Chicago?

Thinking of selling your home? Market timing can greatly determine the success you see. General rule of thumb is after the SuperBowl but before Memorial Day in Chicago. February-April will be the busiest months for listing homes with the most buyers (and qualified buyers at that) out searching. The amount of new homes on the market will gradually tail off through summer and be fairly low through fall and winter.

Only those in a “must sell” situation should put their place on the market during these low seasons. While there are always buyers out looking, you want to put your home in a position to capture the largest sale price possible, and this means when there is the most competition amongst buyers, aka February through April. However, every situation is unique and you’re best off to have a consultation with me and my team to decide what will work best for you.