Buyer Book GE113-03

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a guide to HOME BUYING


home is‌ Where we make memories. Where we build relationships. Where we celebrate milestones. Where we laugh. Where we love. Where we dream. It’s so much more than a place to live – and finding that special place you want to call home starts with finding a broker who understands that.



an indispensable partner With a wealth of online resources and countless reality TV shows about real estate, it’s not surprising some homebuyers consider a DIY approach when purchasing a new home. But for most, a real estate professional is an indispensable partner in the homebuying process. While today’s buyers are more educated about real estate than ever before, all the research in the world can’t match an experienced broker’s “in-the-trenches” understanding of what’s happening in the market today. And when the most in-depth market knowledge is backed by the best marketing and technology infrastructure in the business, the results are unmatched. That’s where @properties comes in.

As a local, independent brokerage, @properties has the expertise, the relationships, and the resources to make your home-buying experience productive and, just as importantly, enjoyable.


let’s get better acquainted...


Started the @gives back Community Fund to inspire charitable outreach among @properties’ brokers and to support local organizations

Became the #1 residential brokerage firm in Chicago in less than a decade






Began as a four-person boutique brokerage

Expanded to Chicago’s North Shore

Overtook the title of Illinois’ largest independent residential brokerage firm in 2013

Co-founders Thad Wong and Mike Golden named winners of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award

Established @properties Wisconsin with an office in Lake Geneva

Achieved a record $9+ billion in sales in 2018






Opened an office in New Buffalo, Michigan to serve the Harbor Country resort-home market

Appeared on the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest growing private companies for the 11th time


industry leader @properties was built around a simple but elusive concept: provide brokers and clients with the highest level of service in the industry through cutting-edge sales and marketing programs and a culture that values innovation, relationships, and a strong local focus. What began as a four-person brokerage in 2000 has grown into the #1 residential brokerage firm in Chicago, the largest independent brokerage firm in Illinois, one of the fastest-growing brokerage firms in Southeast Wisconsin and Southwest Michigan/Northwest Indiana, and the 11th largest brokerage firm in the U.S. by sales volume.

Despite tremendous growth, @properties still maintains its boutique feel, collaborative environment, and commitment to being a local company that serves both client and community. We are constantly evolving, but remain focused on that one simple idea behind our founding.




the buying process

The Buying Process ¡ 1



choose a broker It’s important to ask potential brokers questions relating to their experience and routines, and to listen for the questions they ask you to get a feel for if they’re really intent on understanding your needs.

Experience in your preferred neighborhood and/or style of home is important, but so is the comfort level between broker and client, because buying a home is a highly personal experience. Your broker should be someone you like, trust, and respect—and who feels the same way about you.

2 get pre-approved for a mortgage In today’s home-buying environment, a mortgage pre-approval is essential. It not only lets you know what you can afford to buy, but also demonstrates to sellers that you are a willing and able buyer. What’s more, it gives you an important head start in securing an actual loan commitment.

The Buying Process · 2

3 create a wish list Almost every home purchase involves some degree of compromise. There are many variables to think about depending on your lifestyle, budget and future plans, but some universal considerations include:

Location – Consider important factors such as schools, transportation, and neighborhood amenities like shops, restaurants and parks.

Type of Home – There are a variety of housing styles to consider. Weigh the pros and cons to narrow your focus.

Features and Amenities – Think about your wants and needs, such as garage parking, hardwood floors, outdoor space, etc.

4 find your home At this stage of the game, you are ready to begin your home search. Here’s what you can expect to do:

Review Listings – Your broker will present you with available listings. Beyond price and property attributes, pay close attention to data like property taxes, market time, and monthly assessments for condos and townhomes.

View Properties – Your broker will schedule showings and accompany you on appointments.

Open Houses – If you’re attending open houses without your broker, be sure to mention that you are being represented by an @properties broker. This will save you from being inundated with calls from other brokers trying to represent you.

Compare Properties – Provide candid feedback to your broker after every listing you see so he or she will be able to adjust their parameters in order to present you with alternatives. When you find a home that suits your needs, your broker will prepare a Comparative Market Analysis (or CMA) to help you formulate your offer.


5 make an offer When you find a home, it’s important to act quickly and make an educated offer based on the strategy you and your broker have discussed. Your broker will draw up a contract that includes your offer price and other terms and contingencies. Here are some of the most common elements of a real estate contract:

Price – The market will determine the final price, but your broker will help you formulate an offer based on current market conditions and comparable listings and sales.

Mortgage Contingency – A mortgage contingency stipulates that you will buy the home subject to obtaining a mortgage. If you cannot obtain a mortgage, and the seller will not agree to finance the sale, then the contract will be void.





thorough inspection of the property by a licensed home inspector protects you against structural or material problems that may not be detectable in a casual walk-through.

Attorney Approval – Attorney approval is generally a one-week period in which your attorney can review the contract and suggest alterations to help protect you from any undue obligations. An attorney’s review is always highly recommended.

Earnest Money – Earnest money is a deposit, given to the seller, which secures the contract until the closing. If the sale does not go through due to contingencies covered in the contract, then the earnest money may be returned to the buyer.

Closing Date – This is usually the date the seller must vacate and the buyer may occupy the property. Flexibility on the closing date can give a buyer a big advantage over other potential buyers.

The Buying Process · 4

6 negotiate counteroffers In most transactions, there’s a fair amount of offers and counteroffers. Your broker will draw upon his or her experience and market knowledge to offer sound advice during a negotiation, and he or she can also serve as a buffer between the buyer and the seller/seller’s broker.

7 contract to closing There are dozens of loose ends to tie up between signing the contract and closing the sale. Your broker will coordinate and oversee the following steps:

• Deliver earnest money with the seller or seller’s agent

• Recommend and schedule a home inspector and accompany the buyer on the inspection

• Recommend real estate attorneys

• Obtain important documents, such as property disclosure forms and condominium documents (budget, declaration, condo association minutes), and deliver them to the buyer and buyer’s attorney

• Recommend mortgage brokers and help expedite the loan-application process

• Monitor all contingencies to ensure that they have been met

• Recommend service providers for moving, home-improvement and repairs

• Schedule a final walk-through. Both the buyer and buyer’s agent should be present

• Coordinate and attend your closing


8 closing Your broker will work closely with you, your lender, your attorney, and the seller’s broker to make sure everything is in place for a smooth and efficient closing.

Typically, a day or two prior to the closing, your lender will forward all loan documentation to the title company and let you know the amount required to close. You will be responsible for bringing the balance of your down payment and closing costs (such as lender fees, title company fees, and state and city transfer taxes) to the closing in the form of a cashier’s check. At the closing, your attorney will guide you through the documents you need to sign, including the bill of sale, the deed, and the affidavit of title.

9 after you buy One of our core values is “Everything is Relationship”. We maintain relationships with clients long after the closing. That means we’re always glad to help you find service providers and tradesmen to perform work on your home or just make life a little easier.

As you’re getting settled, here are a few situations you may encounter in the coming months and years that are important to think about.

• Rebuilding Your Savings and Maintaining Financial Discipline – It’s important to set up an automatic electronic payment with your mortgage lender, to avoid costly penalties associated with late payments. Buyers should also make a plan for gradually rebuilding their savings account.

• Refinancing – Keep an eye on interest rates even after you purchase your home. If rates go down, you may be able to save money by refinancing. Keep in mind refinancing is a major financial transaction with important implications. So be just as diligent in a refinance as you were in securing your original mortgage.

• Home Improvement – Most new homeowners have at least a few projects they want to tackle once they move in. Your broker has the network and resources to help you find a variety of service providers to perform work on your home.

The Buying Process · 6

The Buying Process · 2



online tools

12 Our website includes access to all properties listed in the local MLS along with detailed community information and market trends. Sign up to customize and manage your search, request notifications to keep tabs on the status of a home, find nearby open houses, and save properties. Other features include:

• Enhanced property search functionality that allows users to draw their search area and sort through properties by neighborhood, price, property type, schools and transportation • Listing detail pages with professional photos, videos and floor plans • Interactive maps embedded within search results • Advanced school district boundary data • Video library that showcases neighborhoods and @properties listings • Parking availability rating powered by Parknav • Social sharing



pl@tform™ “Technology” and “real estate” are two terms that rarely appeared in the same sentence until a decade ago. Today, technology is undoubtedly one of the hottest topics in the industry as it continues to transform the way we buy and sell homes.

While real estate is still very much a relationship business, @properties embraces technology in ways that enhance the consumer experience and keep our clients ahead of the curve. At the heart of this effort is pl@tform™, our proprietary suite of end-to-end technology applications that make the buying and selling process more seamless. Core technologies include a digital Comparative Market Analysis tool that helps buyers gauge pricing and market activity relative to their home search, and a number of behind-thescenes tools and resources that have created the most efficient transaction environment in local real estate.

pl@tform™ was developed in-house by @properties’ programming and marketing teams, and is constantly being updated and refined to respond to the ever-changing realities of real estate in the 21st century.



@properties’ digital CMA A Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) is one of the most relied-upon pricing resources that brokers use to gauge a home’s current value. This report evaluates a home alongside other properties – closed, active and pending “comparables” – taking into account variables like location, property features, market times, and price changes.

At @properties, we have created a technology that streamlines the CMA and ensures our clients are one step ahead of the competition. Unlike a traditional CMA, @properties’ Digital CMA is up-to-the-minute accurate, using real-time data from the local Multiple Listing Service. The interactive report allows you to add comments to individual listings as you review the report, pin new properties to your CMA, and receive e-mail alerts with information on newly-listed properties as well as status changes to current listings.

Your @properties broker will prepare a CMA to help you formulate an offer based on the market right here, right now.



@agent app Leveraging @properties’ “market within a market,� our brokers use an internal app for company-wide communication. The exclusive @agent app allows our brokers to match homebuyers with homes for sale, including pocket (off-market) listings. That means we have the inside scoop on properties that are soon to be listed, giving buyers an early opportunity to view and purchase during a time when others are waiting for properties to hit the market.

Beyond connecting buyers and sellers, the @agent app aggregates a knowledge base of every @properties broker in a searchable database, making it a great resource for recommendations on everything from vendors and service providers to local businesses.



@gives back What makes a house a home has just as much to do with what’s around it, as what’s in it. That’s why @properties has always been a big believer in helping to build strong neighborhoods and communities. One way we do this is through the @gives back Community Fund, a 501(c) (3) that was created out of the desire to inspire charitable outreach among @properties brokers and to support the city that has allowed our company to continually grow and thrive.

Each year, we partner with local organizations with an emphasis on homelessness, education, youth development, health, and community. Past and present beneficiaries include the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), Christopher House, Teen Living Programs, Off the Street Club, Maryville Academy, Deborah’s Place, Noah’s Arc Foundation, Keith Relief, Imerman Angels, and the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation.



contract to closing – what we do for you Guiding your real estate transaction from contract to closing is a multi-step process that requires proactive management and thorough attention to detail. Our emphasis on communication, organization and follow-

• Distribute required disclosure forms

through ensures that deadlines are met, documents are

• Collect important documents such as

distributed, and every item is in place to make your trans-

condominium declaration and required

action efficient and seamless.

disclosures to fulfill contract contingencies

Our brokers, managing brokers and support staff will:

• Coordinate an appraisal

• Handle earnest money and escrow account

• Coordinate walk-throughs

management • Distribute contracts to all relevant parties • Coordinate attorney review


• Update you when contingencies have been satisfied • Coordinate your closing

• Coordinate a home inspection

• Help you find a new home

• Provide information to lenders

• Follow up to see if you have any questions





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