Tag Archives: homebuyers

Questions to ask when choosing a mortgage lender to buy a home.

When deciding to buy a home, the first step is getting preapproved. With so many mortgage lenders out there, how do you choose? Many home buyers who come to me say the same thing. I just called my bank to get preapproved…they have all my information and my car loan…

Banks who are good for checking accounts or even car loans are not always stellar at mortgages, which are riskier and more complicated transactions. The right mortgage lender can be the difference between getting or not getting a home. In a competitive market where the right homes are going into multiple offers, listing real estate brokers and there sellers may evaluate offers, including which lender will get the job done. If lenders have a bad reputation, it can hurt your offer. And the wrong mortgage lender can definitely cost you a lot of time, heartache and money if they do not get the job done.

Beware – rates are not everything. Mortgage companies that cloak themselves in the best rates are not often the best to deal with. If they can’t get the job done, it won’t matter what their rate is.

So here are 6 questions to ask a mortgage lender to see who will get you into your new home.

1. What do I need for a preapproval letter? If they don’t ask you for tax returns, w2, bank statements and proof of employment income right from the start….and pull your credit report…your preapproval is not worth anything and will be worthless to a listing broker with an offer. Sellers want to know the loan will go through and so do you. They need all this information to ensure you will have a successful loan.

2. Do you do your own underwriting locally or in your office? Underwriting is the key to all loans. Underwriting is where they look at all the documentation and ensure the company/investor is satisfied with a minimal risk of default on the loan. This is very complex and involves a lot of precision but also a lot of subjectivity. If the underwriters are with another company or in another state or even another office, the loan officer will be powerless if anything is tricky with you or the house to ensure the loan gets done.

3. Who do I deal with during the loan process? Service counts for a lot. Companies where you deal with multiple people in multiple locations, states, etc. usually will delay your loan and cause you more hassles. You want a team where the loan officer, the person you start with is still involved and still your point of contact for you, your Realtor and your attorney. Companies who have you talking to a different person every time will just give you a headache and waste a lot of your time. Internet companies are famous for this, you often are pushed from person to person.

4. What are your loan fees? Of course you want to know what the loan will cost you. But just like rate, you should ask the question (and get it in writing) but that should not be the only factor considered.

5. What loans can you do? Not all banks, mortgage companies and credit unions can perform all mortgages. Renovation loans, FHA loans, various grants and programs loans with home buyer assistance at local or state level…if you are looking for a particular loan product or a few, you want to know they can do the job in house and not send out for underwriting and processing.

6. How many of your deals go through? This is a very important question. Some loan officers are salaried (many banks) while mortgage companies typically are strictly commission…they don’t eat if they don’t close loans. If they could care less if you close or not and merely are fulfilling a quota of preapprovals or applications…they are likely not the lender for you. And lenders who don’t close at least 90% or more of all loans they submit preapprovals for…that is a red flag.

The Best Homes for Super Bowl Entertaining

Super bowl is said to be one of the biggest entertainment and gathering events of the year. No other event pits the challenges of food and television more to a host. So, when I am showing a house, I often look at the spaces in the “how can I entertain in this house.” Because even if you don’t entertain, the same principals often apply to everyday use. So here is my criteria for the perfect Super Bowl entertaining house.

1. Space. Space is a given for most entertaining. The more space you have in a kitchen, the more food you can put out and the easier it is for people to “graze” for several hours. This is true of any entertaining and gathering event like holidays and special occasions where you host family and friends.

But coupled with a television event, you also need seating and gathering space for a lot of people to hover around the biggest screen. Space is important and in this case, bigger is better.

2. Open areas. When hosting, it is extremely helpful to have open gathering spaces where people can move and mingle between food and conversation easily. Open floor plans between the kitchen and family room help facilitate ease of not missing out on either snacks or the TV main event. And when even the commercials are important, an open floor plan can mean you don’t miss a minute.

3. Kitchen Island. Kitchen islands are a great invention. They add counter and storage space, can double as a table or snack counter, can elevate small hands and eyes when baking, can be a table for homework. The benefits are endless. But when hosting a food gathering, they can be the main event. The kitchen island can be the place where the food goes. With four accessible sides, it is easy to move around and create your plate or just pop in to snitch something. It also frees your other counterspace for preparation and isolates more of the mess to certain areas.

Sometimes basements are a great space for all this, but family room kitchen combo seem to be the preference. It has everything, your main cooking space, natural light and access to the door for guest coming and going. This house for sale pictured at 648 Larkspur in Matteson, Illinois shows the perfect set up for a great Super Bowl party.

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What you need to know about using an Attorney in a Real Estate Closing

Many of my clients ask if they have to use an attorney when buying or selling a home. While the answer is no you don’t have to but you need to use an attorney when buying or selling a home and here is why.
1. Who is going to explain all the paperwork to you at the closing? By law in Illinois, only an attorney can explain the mountain of paperwork from the mortgage note to the deed to the closing charges to ensure that you are getting what you paid for and that you understand everything you are signing. So unless you want to just sign a bunch of papers you don’t understand, you need a real estate attorney there with you when signing.
2. If you are selling property…there are a myriad of paperwork that needs to be completed for transfer taxes and there are documents to be reviewed like the title, survey, deed. If you don’t understand every word and paragraph, how do you know it is completed properly? How do you know that your error will not put you in future litigation?
3. Dealing with the other attorney…In Illinois, most sellers use an attorney, so if you are a buyer, you would have to deal directly with the attorney on everything, inspection repairs, extensions, title problems and review? While these things are not rocket science they do require a level of knowledge and experience to be successfully achieved. If the other side has it and you don’t…you are putting yourself at a disadvantage.
4. Are you sure you are protected and getting what you are entitled to? Buying and selling a home is complicated. The deed and title need to be reviewed to ensure there are no liens. The survey needs to be reviewed. Real estate taxes and exemptions can expose you to paying more taxes out of pocket than necessary. A real estate attorney will review all these items and protect your interests now and in the future.
5. Make sure it is a real estate attorney who has experience in real estate. You would not have a cardiologist perform brain surgery. Both doctors, but specific knowledge and experience are required. Same with attorneys, there are nuances that only attorneys who practice in real estate will know and recognize. This could be the difference between preventing or solving a problem or something you will have in the future.
6. Where do you look for a real estate attorney? Your Realtor and/or lender are great resources. They work with attorneys every day and can give you a personal recommendation. Then you should talk to them and ensure you feel comfortable with them. It is important that you feel comfortable asking questions and ensure they have time to help you and will communicate with you.
7. What should I expect from my attorney? Some attorneys are the “just see you at closing types.” You are better off with someone who is with you every step of the way, not just on the day of closing. They should review all the paperwork, communicate with the Realtors, lender, title company and other attorney. They should answer all your questions and keep you up to date. They need to protect your interests and do what is best for you. And they should work well with all the parties involved to make a smooth transaction. If they seem difficult to work with, they are likely not the right choice. Real estate transactions have a lot of moving parts, all parties need to work together to ensure a smooth and successful experience. And keep in mind, while an assistant or paralegal can do a lot of the paperwork, they should not be the one answering your questions and explaining paperwork. That is what your attorney is for.

8. What should you pay for a real estate attorney? You usually pay a flat fee, not by the hour, phone call or retainer for a real estate transaction. It is paid at closing. You can negotiate the fee, especially as the seller of the property, but again it is more important to get a good attorney than save a few bucks.

Simply said. You don’t know what you don’t know. In every industry there are experts that people rely on to protect, educate and inform them. Doing it yourself you could miss something that will cost you money, hassle and more in later years. Unless you understand all the paperwork and laws…get an expert. After all, this is not only your home, but your largest investment.

How to Win or Lose Multiple Offers when Buying a Home

I hear this all the time from home buyers, especially first-time homebuyers. I am tired of losing a home in multiple offers. With buyer demand, low interest rates and inventory shortages, multiple offers have been a standard in the home buying game, especially in competitive marketplaces and in the first-time buyer more affordable homes category of the market.

Home buyers never win in a multiple offer or bidding war. You don’t know what the other buyers are doing, what their financing is, how many of them are there. It can get very discouraging for home buyers. But, if you want a home and are in it to win it, you can’t be discouraged. You just need a strategy.

Timing is everything. Home buying in a competitive environment is no exception. The cream of the crop homes don’t last long. Beating other offers to the punch could make the difference between a sole negotiation with you and the seller and a multiple offer, so you need to know what is out there and go see it right away. Get into the home right away, even if it is inconvenient, do it. Keep abreast of the market by having your Realtor send you updates on the multiple listing service MLS 2x per day, morning and afternoon, that way you have the most accurate and updated listings available.

And you need to be ready to make a quick decision. Be prepared with your preapproval letter ready. Have all the decision makers attend the first showing. Waiting for your parents to come even the next day and you could be behind the eight ball. While it is important to make a wise unhasty and considered decision, you need to know your marketplace, do your homework and consult your Realtor expert so you know when the right thing comes along.

Don’t submit a low ball offer. That is the first way to lose a home to multiple offers. If you are offering on a fast-moving in-demand home, don’t try to negotiate too much and go really low. Home sellers can consider other offers up until you have a signed (not verbal) contract. If you low ball to try to get the price down, you will lose the home – guaranteed. If another offer comes in, you will definitely pay more to get the price. In a multiple offer, the list price usually becomes the rule, so you sometimes need to get right on it, close to it or over it to win the house.

Again, timing is the biggest factor. Homebuyers always need to consider the market, but not over consider. Remember, if you are getting a loan, and most people are, the home’s value will need to appraise. As a homebuyer, you can never overpay for a home. If you think the price is too high, much better to have no competition in negotiating after an appraisal than keep missing out. Yes, homebuyers do need to pay for the appraisal, so there is some chance of loss, but most times sellers will negotiate once they have a buyer. If you are not sure, have your attorney extend the inspection period and do the appraisal right away, then you can reduce potential risks and losses.

Other terms of the purchase can also be a way to win in a multiple offer. Cash maybe king, but the price is the main consideration to most home sellers. The only way to beat a cash offer is to outbid them. But if you are a cash offer or put more money down, that can be appealing to a seller. Conventional financing is usually more appealing than FHA financing.

Home seller concessions like closing costs, surveys, termite inspections, home warranties and percentage of tax proration can be another way you can beat out the competition. Down payment assistance or relative gifts can be one option other than seller paid closing costs. You can get your own termite inspection, survey and home warranty or do without them. Most financing options no longer require termite inspections and survey. Established homes with obvious boundaries do not necessarily need a survey. And unless your inspection reveals an potential issue with termites, you may not need. VA loans still however need a termite inspection, but it can be provided by the buyer.

Tax prorations are usually a small consideration, but combined with others above, it can win. Depending on the current exemptions, assessment and tax increases and since your lender escrows your taxes at closing and each month, you may not ever have a dime out of your pocket for a tax proration at 100% vs. 5 or 10% over the last tax bill.

Offering to buy the home “as is”. You should always still have an inspection and you still have the inspection contingency in place in a contract, so if you say you will purchase as is and there are deal breakers at the inspection, you can always renegotiate. With other buyers moving onto other deals by then, you may be on your own. You shouldn’t go into the deal with this plan to about face on this term, but you still have options.

There are always pitfalls with the appraisal or as is back up plan though. Backup offers could be in place, so the home seller may just go back to that, but other buyers may not wait around and move onto other homes.

Other terms like favorable closing dates or post-closing possession may suit the home sellers needs and favor your offer.

And if you are tired of the multiple offer game and don’t want to play anymore, there are other options. Very few times does a diamond in the rough have multiple offers. Could be the home a little old lady lives in that is in good condition, but is not updated, could be a foreclosure home. You can get a rehab loan to fix up the home the way you want. You still get your dream home and often a better price and less frustration.

Housing Trends…in-law arrangements in homes have made multigenerational buyers more common

Home buyers looking for in-law arrangements in homes have experienced sharp increases in demand putting sellers with the potential for in-law arrangements and suites in a great marketing position.

Parents are aging and sometimes costs of care and other complications require adult children to take them in. But on the other side of the generations, high cost of renting, divorce and difficulties finding jobs have resulted in necessity for in-law arrangements adult children and sometimes their families to live with the folks too.

In many cultures, multi-generational living is commonplace, but it is new to the masses in the US.
What multi-generational buyers are looking for are ways to have a complete or partial living arrangement for either side of the familial spectrum, while maintaining a comfortable separation, when needed.

Older parents coming out of their own living arrangements are often the most difficult to accommodate. They are used to living on their own, so “downgrading” to something less than what they had on their own can be a sore subject.

They will at minimum want as much of their own separate space as can be provided. Private bedroom with on-suite bath (usually no tub), decent-sized bedroom and closets, sometimes a sitting area and sometimes a kitchen. And usually no stairs.

While basements can often accommodate all this and more, older parents usually can’t or don’t wanted to be relegated to the “dungeon” – even with a chair-lift to handle the stairs. And they want to feel comfortable in the space to live as their own home, not like they are intruding.

Buyers looking for this kind of accommodation will likely have to do some renovation to make this happen. Renovation loans can be obtained in order to make changes, even moving walls, etc. They require a higher level of and come with a bigger interest rate, but the money in the mortgage is cheaper than credit cards. Sometimes the sale of their home can be used for this extra money. But don’t look for sellers to be ok with 2 home contingencies to buy a home. Not going to happen.

However, additions are more expensive and a lot more hassle. Looking for homes with extra 1st floor rooms, like a den, sunroom or 1st floor master bedrooms often can be a perfect in-law suite. Adjacent living rooms can be tapped to make a suite where parents can have privacy to have friends over, etc. If utilizing the 1st floor master, enough space has to be made to accommodate a 2nd master on the 2nd floor.

Many “in-law arrangements” are basement suites. While this will not often suit older parents, it is often perfect for young couple, single or young family needs. They can benefit from the proximity of parents for potential babysitting and save a lot of money with no rent payments, and sometimes better schools and area than they could afford. And they also have a completely separate retreat and living area, which both parents and adult children alike appreciate.

Depending on the family dynamic, the in law may not the final decision maker, but they may have a say in the final plan. Need to plan ahead to ensure you don’t ruin the space so it can not be reasonably reverted if necessary by a future buyer.

Sellers who have this type of feature in their homes or can even offer an idea of how it can easily be done, can certainly market that feature to capture some of these new buyer needs and put their homes ahead of others in the marketplace.

Selling and Buying a Home with Home For Sale or Close Contingencies – Facts and Fiction

If you are selling you home, do you buy a new home first or do you wait until you sell and risk two moves and being homeless. It can be a dilemma and can be exacerbated by complications of a large family or work schedule, schools, transportation, etc.

Once upon a time, buying a home contingent on the sale of your home was normal. When the housing slump occurred, sellers did not have enough confidence in the market that the buyer could sell their home to risk taking their home off the market. Since 2015, that is beginning to change. Sellers are having more confidence in the market, but not total confidence. Here are some facts for buyers and sellers about contingencies.

Buyers:
. You can not purchase a foreclosure or short sale home contingent upon the sale or close of your home. And banks will not give you months to sell and close on your home.
. A purchase contingent on sale or close is a big seller concession, they need to be compensated with a better offer price to risk losing market time.
. Best time to ask for contingent on sale or close is during the winter months. Sellers are not risking as much. . You have better chance and price negotiation on that – still no foreclosures or short sales.
. Do the inspection up front, but not the appraisal. Yes, the inspection costs money but you need to show the seller good faith that you are serious about the deal. Inspection items are negotiable and need to be done within the 1st week of any contract so no one wastes their time.

Sellers
. Never take a contingent on sale/close contract over a non contingent contract. Yes, you may get a little money more, but it is not a done deal and wasting precious market time can cost you more than you gain if it doesn’t go through.
. Your house is NOT SOLD. There are no sure things here, there is always a risk. Keep showing it.
. Your agent should do a market analysis of the buyer’s home to ensure their home is saleable or closeable to mitigate the risk.
. Don’t compound contingent on sales. So don’t you get a house contingent on sale/close when your buyer has the same situation. And don’t take a contingent on sale/close deal if the buyer’s buyer has the same. Just like dominos, too much risk, it could all come tumbling down.
. Not all sellers should consider a contingent on sale/close. Contingent on close is better, but if you are in a good market and getting tons of activity…..better not to risk it.

The property ladder can not move without someone taking a risk. Contingencies on sale/close can work, but due diligence is required to calculate the benefits and risks. Many sellers and buyers benefit from this, but both must be realistic.

The RIGHT way to look at closing costs when selling a home or buying a home

Closing costs when selling a home or buying a home seem to always be a tug of war between buyers and sellers. Buyers think that sellers should include closing costs for them. A lot of times when I show younger people their parents or grandparents always tell them “they (the seller) should include closing costs.” Sellers often oppose the idea of including closing costs for buyers, often sellers say. “Why should I pay their closing costs. If they can’t afford closing costs, maybe they shouldn’t be buying a home.” The truth is both parties are wrong. When selling a home or buying a home, closing costs become just part of the equation to make the deal happen. However, the way to look at it is not seller concessions or seller paying the closing costs…it should be seller allowing the buyer to finance their closing costs by making it part of the deal.

Many buyers need the closing costs to make the deal happen. There are a lot of people who just are not savers any more. They may good money but the down payment is about as much as they can do. But buyers need to realize that the seller doesn’t owe them anything. And while every thousand dollars costs a buyer $5 dollars a month in monthly payment, $1,000 dollars is a $1,000 to the seller.

Sellers need to realize that they don’t get to decide who gets to buy a home or who does not get to buy a home. Sellers should not care who is buying and what their financial situation is, as long as they are approved to buy the home and will get the loan and offer an agreeable price.

When buying a home, you should consider financing your closing costs. It can help you get into a home and use your savings for down payment or improvements to the home, moving, etc. it all takes money and if you can finance the closing costs, it can cost you only a few dollars more each month.

When selling a home, you should consider the request to “pay” buyer closing costs as allowing the buyer to finance their closing costs. It does not affect your net. As long as you are getting the amount you want, what do you care if they include the closing costs in their mortgage?

I often negotiate my deals based on the net to the seller. Don’t include closing costs in the initial negotiation, but let the other party know you intend to add the closing costs to the deal once a net to the seller price can be agreed upon. That way it is not an emotional or adversarial issue for the buyer or the seller. It is a non issue and you can focus on the price – bottom line to the seller.

The only time this becomes an issue is when the appraisal does not meet value. Then it becomes a little sticky. Appraisers are supposed to consider the closing costs paid on the contract, but sometimes they don’t and the closing costs become a pawn in the renegotiation.

When buying a home, buyers need to understand that sellers are entitled to get at least the value of the home, as appraised. Remember, appraisals are not always true to the real value of the home. It is based on the recent comparables, so sometimes the home’s value is more, but it is suffering from lack of comparables or neighbors who are giving away homes to get out.

Home Sellers need to understand that appraisals may or may not be indicative of the true value of the home, but the current market value depends on the comparables, nothing else. And while sometimes, the buyer can come to the table with money above the appraisal, sometimes they don’t have that extra money. And often it is difficult to get a buyer to pay above the appraisal price.

Closing costs need to be considered by both parties as a part of the deal and means to the end to make negotiations go smoother.

Rehab 203k loans – do they really exist?

Rehab loans exist mostly via the FHA 203k route which allow buyers to loan beyond the amount of the purchase price to either cosmetically rehab homes or do repairs that allow the home to pass FHA guidelines.

Yes, they do exist and recently more lenders are starting to carry streamline FHA 203k Rehabilitation loans to allow borrowers to loan up to $35k beyond the sales price of the home to pay for rehab work.

So, the pink or 70’s shag carpeting can be replaced, the wallpaper or white or bright walls can be repainted, cabinets updated, new tile or hardwood, granite counters installed, stainless appliances purchased, etc. And all can be done at a fraction of the immediate cost through FHA 203k Rehabilitation loans, basically $50 extra per month for every $10k. Yes, it will cost more over 30 years, but less than credit card interest rates and it will happen a lot faster and easier than if you were to save for it and wait and then live in a construction zone. And you will get a deal on a gem of an outdated house.

FHA 203k Rehabilitation loans are a great way to get immediate gratification on that home that ticks all boxes except is not updated and offers buyers a great way to get a good deal on a diamond in the rough.

These FHA 203k Rehabilitation loans; however, are considered high risk by the lenders, and if you think you have to jump through hoops with lenders on a regular deal – double the amount of time, hassle and hoops and that is what to expect.

You have to get a general contractor with experience and who is willing to do a FHA 203k Rehabilitation loans. Although you can get some things done yourself that require no skill and is allowed by the lender and their inspection liasion. Permits need to be filled out and all village codes obeyed and inspected.

You will need to get a contractor right away and they need to be willing to complete forms and comply with all the lender wishes on forms. Usually only 2 draws are allowed – 50% at closing and 50% after completion. Some contractors will not like that. Everyone needs to be licensed for work and everything has to be accounted. You can hire any contractor you want, but they need insurance and licensing, so Uncle George is not likely going to be able to do the job. They can have subcontractors who are licensed.

You usually have 30-60 days to complete the work after closing and then you can move in. You will not be able to live there during the work, that is important to note. Then the lender liaison will approve the work and you move in…. happily ever after.

However, FHA 203k Rehabilitation loans can be tricky for major repairs. Again, high risk becomes higher risk and lenders usually make it very difficult to get this done. Mold or standing water, structural repairs, electrical and sometimes plumbing repairs, or moving or tearing down walls, etc. are very difficult to get approved under this type of loan. Again, lenders try to reduce or eliminate high risks when making loans with the buyer and/or the property. For these kinds of repairs, lenders may require testing or additional inspections and definitely longer review times. This may make foreclosure sellers difficult to get additional time, etc.

FHA 203k Rehabilitation loans ARE possible, but here are a few things you need to know…

Expect at least 60-90 days to close – again, could cause problems with seller, so be prepared and don’t forget the time to close.
You can’t move walls or include pools, furniture, etc. in the streamline loan. There is another type but major reconstruction is really not advisable with a loan.
There are extra fees for the liaison/inspectors the bank will require.
You will start paying the mortgage the month after the closing, so you may start paying even more you move in.
Contractors will delay you. Some contractors don’t like this type of work because of the rules, paperwork and the strict payment and deadline terms. You need to get your contractor bid in before anything can happen, so get everything as fast as possible.
Make sure you get a lender who processed their own loans and can control the process. Lenders who farm this out lose control of the situation and add extra time.
BE patient. The process is very difficult and can be done, but it will be tedious and sometimes not make sense. Remember whoever has the purse pulls the strings and lenders need to ensure the home is worth the extra work.

4 Bedroom Home in Orland Park with Enviable Outdoor Garden and Living Area

Yes, Winter in Chicago is here and the “white stuff” SNOW is already starting to make an appearance. BUT it is only 136 days to Spring flowers. This 4 bedroom home in Orland Park offers exceptional landscaping with great outdoor space to remind us of warmer days and outdoor living with barbeques, bonfires and enjoying a warm sunny day. This 4 bedroom home in Orland Park is for sale at $509,900 and offers easy ranch living with an open floor plan with 3 bedrooms on the main floor, including the master suite, plus a loft suite with full bath, bedroom and sitting area and a full related living suite with full kitchen, 2nd laundry, two additional bedrooms and huge open living area.

The Outdoor Garden in this 4 bedroom home in Orland Park includes an electronic Sunsetter retractable awning to shade the patio area. The patio area is surrounded by brick paver wall and decorative iron fencing.

Included Planter boxes on the brick wall of this 4 bedroom home in Orland Park can be filled with perennials or colorful annual flowers as seen in this picture.

Perennial plantings in this 4 bedroom home in Orland Park surround the patio area and exterior perimeter of the home featuring multi-seasonal plantings which will give color and look elegant and manicured in every season. This is the back yard everyone wants. It is available in this 4 bedroom home in Orland Park for $509,900 along with a 3,100 square foot upgraded executive ranch home. With granite counters, hardwood flooring, volume ceiling and decorative custom features, this home is beautiful and elegant inside and out. deerpoint garden 14

Downpayment Assistance Programs Make it Easier to Buy A Home in Illinois

What can you do if you don’t have enough down payment or closing costs to buy a home? You can buy a home with $1,000 or less. Here are some assistance programs offered by the Illinois Department of Housing Authority (IHDA). All these programs require that the home be purchased and used as a principal residence for at least 2-3 years. And for many of these downpayment assistance programs, you do not have to be a first-time buyer.

I have heard people say – what’s the catch or I wouldn’t qualify. You need to meet minimum credit score and income eligibility requirements, but you just never know. These programs are designed to get people to buy homes, and often the income requirements meet many people. If you can get the money, why not take advantage of it? Or at least find out?

Several towns in Illinois, including Park Forest, South Holland, Chicago Heights, Lynwood, Lockport and Crest Hill, are eligible for the Illinois Building Blocks Grant which provides $10,000 towards down payment, closing costs and reduction in purchase price to buy a home. There are income MAXIMUMS between $90-107,000 and you need to qualify with credit score and income to get a loan. You DO NOT have to be a first-time buyer. The home has to be vacant, move-in ready and only in one of the selected towns.

Smart Moves is a downpayment assistance program available to first-time buyers only to buy a home. You can not have owned a home in the last 3 years to be a first-time buyer. This offers $6,000 in down payment and closing costs. Again, the home must be move in ready and anywhere in Illinois.

There are also programs for property tax relief through state income tax credits for 30 years (the life of your loan). This one is for first-time buyers only and usually is only available at the beginning of the year as funds run out on that one towards the middle of the year or earlier. These other programs, however, do have plenty of money available.

Illinois Veterans can take advantage of two homeower assistance programs to find an affordable way to buy a home. VA loans offer a no money down and no private mortgage insurance option. You need to qualify for the home by income and credit and have a DD214. No income maximums. The home only needs to be move-in ready. The Welcome Home Heroes program provides a $10,000 grant for any town to cover closing costs and downpayment. You need to contribute 1% or $1,000 toward down payment. And you DO NOT have to be a first-time buyer to buy a home with this program.

Not all lenders have the ability to loan a home on these programs but many do. I work with lenders who do offer these programs. If there is a will, there is a way to buy a home. Downpayment assistance to buy a home through grants like this are ready and waiting for you.