10 Simple Steps to Buying a Home

By Melissa Williams

Navigating through the maze of home buying can be overwhelming, especially as a first-time buyer. What in the what is earnest money? What is the importance of getting pre-approved? With the assistance of a great team, we can make the home buying process a breeze. There are typically a couple of key players to ease the home buying process; a mortgage broker, a Realtor, and an attorney. Throughout the process, you will also work with a home inspector and an appraiser. Here are the major steps to home buying:

  1. Contact a mortgage broker and get pre-approved. Your mortgage broker will help identify if there are any areas of improvement that would help lower your interest rate or increase your spending power, such as paying down a credit card or improving your credit score. Your mortgage broker will be a KEY player throughout the process by getting you approved for a loan.
  2. Contact a Realtor. Your Realtor will help coordinate, educate, provide expertise and help  negotiate the best possible price. Your Realtor will serve as your confidant throughout the home buying process.
  3. Create a home buying wish list. Break your list down to your non-negotiables and items that would be nice to have, but could live without. Your Realtor will help you fine-tune your wish list as well.
  4. Select your desired area and begin looking at homes.  After viewing a few homes and getting a feel for your tastes, your Realtor should be able to keep an eye out for the perfect property for you.
  5. Make an offer. Once you find your dream home, put in an offer with the assistance of your Realtor.
  6. Contact a real estate attorney. Your attorney will play a key role in the home buying process following offer acceptance. 
  7. Contact a home inspector. The home inspector will do a thorough inspection of your home and will provide you with a detailed report.
  8. Get home appraised. If agreement is reached following your home inspection and attorney review, your mortgage broker will schedule an appraisal. The appraiser will determine the value of your future home.
  9. Complete a final walk through. The day before or the day of closing, you will walk through the property to verify there have been no changes in the home and any requested repairs have been made. 
  10. Closing day! On average, from offer acceptance to close, it takes about 45 days to close. Once all of the above steps are completed, you will close on your home. This typically takes about 2-3 hours and is the final step towards home ownership. Typically closing will be held at a title company or an attorney’s office. 

Please contact Melissa Williams at 224.235.2448 or Mwilliams@honoreproperties.com for a complimentary home buying consultation.    

5 Benefits to Using a Realtor for Rentals

By Tim Stroh

Despite the fact that nearly all buyers of real estate use a Realtor to help them find the perfect property to purchase, many consumers do not utilize the help of a Realtor when they are looking to rent. Below is a list of five important reasons why you should consider using a Realtor to supplement your rental search. 

  1. Market expertise. Realtors have the market knowledge that can come in handy during your search. Realtors are able to look up comparable units and buildings in the area that you’re considering to make sure that you are getting a fair rate. Realtors can provide you with average rental rates for different neighborhoods, which can also help you narrow your search to areas that fit your budget. 
  2. A Realtor can save you money. Realtors can use their market expertise to negotiate a lower rental rate on your behalf. Many renters are not aware that rent prices are almost always negotiable, particularly when renting a home or condo. Realtors can also help negotiate the waiving or lowering of fees associated with rentals, and/or the inclusion of parking, storage, etc. 
  3. You do not have to pay a broker fee. In the Chicago area, Realtors receive their fees from the landlord or management company, so they are providing a free service to the renter. On top of that, a Realtor only gets paid if they find you a place, further motivating them to do the best job possible. 
  4. Notification of new rentals as soon as they hit the market. If you decide to use a Realtor, they can set you up to receive listings that fit your criteria as soon as they hit the market. This means that you can beat the competition by scheduling a showing before others even see that it is available. It also means that you don’t have to necessarily skim various rental websites every day to see what’s new. While you can often set up a new listing notification email for sites like Zillow and Hotpads, there is often a lag time between when the unit is listed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and when the listing hits the feeder sites. Having a leg up on timing can be crucial when looking for your next home.
  5. Convenience. A Realtor can take the information you give them in terms of what you’re looking for and set up showings that are back to back, where they drive you around to various options that match your search criteria. This means you don’t have to spend your time calling or emailing various landlords to set up showings on random days and times. 
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How I got started in real estate

By Michael Shenouda

There isn’t a month that goes by that I don’t have a coffee or beer with someone who just wants to know how to get started in real estate. My name is Michael Shenouda and I am the founder of Honore Properties, this is my story about how I bought my first building.  

In 2007, I graduated from the University of Illinois and besides getting a job I had one goal:  to buy my first piece of property.  I had taken one real estate class in college and our professor owned 3000+ units on campus; he told us the best way to start is to buy a 2-4 unit, live in one and rent out the other units.  It’s an easy way to see if you enjoy being a landlord because you are also providing a place for yourself to live at the same time. In addition, the process is not much different than buying a single-family home or condo.  The goal was to create passive income and a second income stream for myself.  

In the fall of 2007 I starting looking at 2-4 unit rental properties but prices were very expensive so I also looked at condos for rental purpose.  In 2007 prices were at an all-time peak, I wasn’t terribly focused on value though, my model was and still is to find cash flowing properties.  This was nearly impossible in 2007 especially since my only way of finding deals was through the MLS.  From 2007-2009, I looked online, underwrote, visited north of a 1,000 properties.  I was close a few times to buying but for whatever reason they did not work out.  In July of 2009, I purchased the first two flat I had seen back in 2007 but for 1/3 of the original asking price in a foreclosure sale.   

Now the nitty gritty.  I had no money, no experience, and was barely making 30k a year at the time. My first full year of working in 2008 showed an income of 22k.  I had read 50+ books on being a landlord and investing but otherwise had no idea what I was doing.  One of my friends and I decided to buy this first investment together and be roommates at the same time, making the down payment and income requirements easier.  We used a loan called a FHA 203k.  The property we bought needed rehab and this loan allowed you to put 3.5% of the total cost of acquisition and construction.  In our case, we needed a down payment of approximately $10,000.   

As I mentioned, I had zero savings and was barely able to make rent, floating out checks on the last night of the 5th hoping our landlord wouldn’t pick them up for a day or two until I was able to find some more cash.  (I am not advising this next part in anyway shape or form but just telling my story as a way to show that anything is possible.)  At that point, I took out a 1 year interest free credit card and put all my expenses on it for the few months leading up to the closing.  This allowed me to have the $5,000 needed to close on the property.  

Back then, President Obama was offering $8,000 for first time home buyers so I was able to recoup a lot of this money quickly.  Then we started to rehab the property, a lot of this was done by ourselves and our families that we dragged in to paint and help landscape.  The heavy lifting was done by a contractor we hired.  The contractor took full advantage of me, a wide eyed 24-year old that had no clue what anything cost.  Regardless, we finished the project and were able to rent the other unit to friends from college (one who later became my wife!).

After killing ourselves nights and weekends to get this done as we both still had full-time jobs, we were able to generate $500 a month in cashflow on the building.  So instead of paying $600 in monthly rent, I was able to only pay $350, saving myself that $250 every month.  On top of the $250 a month, we were paying down our loan, receiving tax breaks and hoping for future appreciation.  

I know what most people think at this point as I have heard it before.  You went through 2 years of trying to find something (nights, weekends and any free time I had) and countless hours working on this property just to save yourself $250 a month.  The answer is technically yes, but the experience was priceless.  Now that I had been through the process, built a team, met brokers, I was well poised to do more.  From there I went on to buy a couple 4 unit buildings and then started buying 6, 8, 20, 30 unit buildings.  As I learned to manage these buildings better, the value went up and I was able to leverage appreciation to refinance some equity out of our deals. That cash could then be used to buy more deals.  

After several years of doing this and having a solid track record; I am now able to raise capital and do deals as big as I want.  Honore Properties now has a portfolio of 200 units and is growing quickly.    

But remember it all started with a little 2 flat….I truly believe anyone can do this, it just takes a lot of time and effort to get started.  You don’t need to turn it into a full-time career either, you just have to get started.  No excuses!    


Honore Properties is a full service real estate company, if you are interested in buying or selling a property you can contact us at (312)-600-4501