Congratulations, you're under contract on the purchase of your home! This is a big deal, and you deserve a moment to celebrate.

After all, think of all you've been through! You've looked through countless ads, held plenty of meetings with your agent, hosted more conversations about flooring than you ever thought possible, and stared down HGTV's Sunday afternoon lineup with a borderline-maniacal gleam in your eye. And now, the end is in sight.

While much of the hard work has been done, it's important to remember that you're not finished yet. The deal is signed, but it's not yet sealed and delivered. 

Here's a list of what's in store as you close on your new home in the Chicago area:

1. The Fine Print

A. Pay Your Initial Earnest Money

First, you're going to deliver your earnest money. Based on the specifics of your contract, you'll have a day or two to get the initial earnest money check to the escrow account holder (not the seller personally). The escrow account holder is typically the listing broker, but that's not always the case. In Illinois, that initial earnest money is often exactly $1000 (with the balance to follow.) When you deliver the check to the listing office, be sure to get a receipt. It's important to keep track of all receipts, documentation, and payments as this process goes on. 

What Are the Current Real Estate Conditions in the West Loop? (Source: wikimedia.commons - used as royalty free image)

Why the West Loop?

Running along the western bank of the Chicago River, the West Loop is a vibrant neighborhood on the rise, full of great restaurants and nightlife.

Though not an official MLS neighborhood (we used the zip code 60608 to gather our data), West Loop is bounded by Grand Avenue on the north, Ashland Avenue on the west, the Eisenhower Expressway on the south, and the Chicago River on the east. It is a part of the Near West Side, which puts it close to Little Italy, Greektown, and the United Center, home of the Bulls and the Blackhawks.

Formerly an industrial manufacturing and warehouse area, the modern West Loop has all of the sophisticated amenities - including art galleries, clubs, theaters, and world class eateries - that make Chicago a destination for ready buyers. Are you one of them?

Want to know more about the amazing dining, culture, and community available in the West Loop? Here are a few places to start:

Ready to buy or sell? Here are the current stats for West Loop's condo and housing markets: 

What are the Current Market Conditions for Ukrainian Village, Wicker Park, and All of West Town?

West Town refers to the neighborhood northwest of the Loop, and is more commonly referenced by its sub-neighborhoods, which include Wicker Park, Ukrainian Village, River West, East Village, part of Bucktown, and Noble Square. Lively communities entrenched in diverse histories and languages, the homes in West Town reflect the hippest and most old-fashioned sides of Chicago, all at once.

Wicker Park, named for the beautiful park at its heart, welcomes artists, families, and foodies alike, and is home to trendy bars, galleries, theater spaces, and countless other quirky gems. You can get a cup of coffee from a number of different shops, most of which are independently owned and burst with eclectic charm.

Ukrainian Village is a more mellow choice. Lined with old trees and filled with classic brick architecture, “Uke Village,” as it's sometimes called, is home to lots of small family businesses, many of which have historically employed Ukrainian or Russian as a first language. Ukrainian Village was also named 2016's "Hottest Neighborhood in the Country" by our friends over at Redfin.

For more information on the rest of the neighborhoods that comprise West Town, we encourage you to check out some of these handy resources:

Ready to buy a house or condo in one of these charming neighborhoods? Here are the current market statistics for all of West Town:

It's been weeks. You've fretted about pricing your home correctly and researched your neighborhood market extensively. You've sprung for staging and high-quality photography. But now, your seller's journey is finally approaching its amazing end. Your listing agent has helped you secure the perfect buyer for your Chicago home, and now it's time to seal the deal.

You are under contract on the sale of your home.

So, that leaves you with just one loaded question: what comes next?

Once you're under contract, what are the responsibilities for sellers and their team? From contract to closing, here's what sellers need to do to get ready to turn over their old home to a new buyer:

1.) Get in Contact with Your Real Estate Attorney

In Illinois, your real estate attorney will be one of your most important partners once your home is under contract. (Don't have one? Here are some attorneys that have taken great care of our clients in the past.)

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