Real Estate Illustrated

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The snow is melting, temperatures are on the rise and the real estate buying season is kicking into high gear! It’s time to lace up our athletic shoes, get that Michael Jordan ice water flowing through our veins and take to the court! Talking real estate can be intimidating and frustrating, so let’s look to the world of sports for inspiration. My goal in this article is to “coach” you through the home buying process and help you develop the skills, strategies and confidence to dominate the game.

Like any sport, buying a home requires dedication, time and preparation. I like to look at this as the conditioning and practice stage, though it rarely requires blood, sweat or tears. Start by jotting down a list of must-have items, and another list of wants. Have you thought about the neighborhood you’d like to live in? Is there a certain school you’d like your children to attend? How many rooms do you think you’re going to need? What sort of yard are you looking for? These are just a few of the questions you need to ask yourself to get the home buying process up and running.

Now let’s get the ball rolling! Start putting your “team” together. Research local Realtors, if you don’t already have one. Your relationship with your broker is the foundation of this entire process. They should be the expert, and be ready to guide you through this process. Interview several potential candidates until you feel comfortable. Know that having a good real estate broker, in sports lingo, should make you feel that you have someone in your corner.

Putting together a home-buying team is no different than drafting a sports team. You want to choose the best available players to ensure a big win. Don’t just go with a family member or friend who is licensed to make them feel good. This is the largest and most expensive purchase you may make in your lifetime, so be sure to surround yourself with the best possible team.

Scouting and Endorsements — While choosing a real estate broker, it’s also time to research a mortgage lender and determine which types of programs you qualify for. I always recommend you meet or call three lenders and shop the rates and closing costs around. Keep in mind that you’re building your team to work for your purchase. This should be a smooth transaction.

Once all of those items are in place, your team is ready to hit the court. It’s time for you and your real estate broker to start touring properties. Your broker will put together a list of homes based on your initial consultation that match your criteria and needs. If you decide to place an offer on one of them, you will then work with your agent to present an offer that not only includes a purchase price, but plenty of other details such as inspection period and tax pro-ration.

Now that we have our fists up in the ring to fight for our home buying championship, in one corner we have our real estate broker and in the other corner the seller. Remember to always negotiate. If the seller decides to make a counter offer, and not accept your initial one, keep trying. When negotiating, keep in mind the price is not always the most important factor, and there are plenty of other items within your offer that can be negotiated. Some homeowners will not negotiate, especially if they are in a multiple offer situation. They may request a “highest and best” from all the potential buyers, and choose the best one from there. The ball is in their court but remember — full court press — to be sure to put a strong foot forward when writing your offer.

Once your offer is accepted, it is time for the property inspection to take place. From there, any possible renegotiation of credits, or seller repairs, can then be brought up and resolved. During that time, your lender will complete the property appraisal to ensure the home is worth at least the purchase price in their eyes.

Now comes closing day. Way to bring it in team! Before heading to the closing location you must first complete a final walk-though of the property. This gives you an opportunity to view the property one last time before actually buying it to ensure the sellers have not damaged it in anyway and have removed all of their personal items.

A win is a win. We’ve made it to the final buzzer. Congratulations!

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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