Buying a house, from start to finish

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You have been saving for years and now it’s time for you to purchase your first home, but where do you begin? The process can be drawn out and at times excruciating but with the right team in place, it can be smooth sailing.

The first step, unless you’re paying in cash, is too find out exactly what a mortgage company or bank will approve you for. This is crucial since there are many different factors in determining if you’re approved and how much you’re approved for. Even an 800 credit score, doesn’t give you an automatic approval like many perceive. Once you have that “golden ticket,” which in the industry is called a pre-approval letter, your next step is to meet with your Realtor. You and your Realtor can then determine what areas and types of properties fit your needs and are in line with your lenders pre approval.

Once you and your realtor “home in” on your dream home, the next step is to actually visit the properties in person and tour them. Once you find the one you are interested in purchasing, the next step is for your Realtor to put together an offer packet. This packet will include your offer in detail and pre-approval letter, along with an earnest money check that is only cashed if the offer is accepted.

Once your offer is submitted, the negotiation process starts. This could include the sellers sending a counteroffer back to you, which could include a higher price than you offered or changes in other details in your offer such as closing dates or contingency requests. Once that’s all hammered out, hopefully congratulations are in order with an accepted offer! That initial offer packet now becomes a fully executed contract and is sent to both the seller’s and buyer’s attorneys for review. The attorneys usually have five business days to make changes to the contract or they may also declare the contract null and void during that time period.

This is now the time to send in your inspectors to check for any hidden defects in the property or issues you may not have noticed. Once that’s completed, you may want to renegotiate the initial purchase price or cancel the contract completely. This can be discussed with your attorney and Realtor.

Meanwhile behind the scenes, the title to the property is being prepared for you and cleared of any liens or defects the current owners have caused. Along with that, your mortgage company will complete an appraisal on the property to confirm you are not overpaying for the property. This will include the lender comparing it to other similar properties nearby that have been sold within the past couple of months.

Once all of that is completed you are now ready to close on the property. This usually happens 30 to 45 days after your initial offer was accepted but may take longer depending on your lender. If you are paying in cash, then the closing can happen as quickly as seven days. The day of closing, you should complete a final walkthrough. This ensures the property is in the same condition as the last time you walked into it and that all the current owners’ personal property has been removed from the home.

Congratulations! You have now closed on your new home and it is all yours to enjoy! Be sure to contact the utility companies to have the services activated in your name so they are not turned off. Now sit back and relax and enjoy what you have worked so hard to achieve.

To contact me, call 708-583-8300, email or visit

About Giuseppe Zerillo

Giuseppe Zerillo is the managing broker and owner of Zerillo Realty Inc. He is active on many boards, serving as village trustee 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.

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