Your Home (Far) Away From Home: A Chicago Real Estate Guide For Foreign Buyers

Your Home (Far) Away From Home: A Chicago Real Estate Guide For Foreign Buyers (Image Source: Wikimedia Commons/Pixabay CC)

If you're moving to Chicago from another country, there's one ground rule you should be aware of: We don't put ketchup on our hot dogs

All kidding aside, moving internationally to Chicago can bring about new challenges that you might not anticipate or experience while moving domestically. With that in mind, here's the international homebuying guide in a nutshell:

1. Build Your Team

The first step of buying a home in the U.S. is finding the right real estate agent. This is where the Real Group Team would love to step in. Real Group Realty offers more than 30 years of combined experience in the real estate market along with seven 5 Star Professional awards for our integrity, communication, and customer service. Take time to search our listings and explore Chicago's diverse neighborhoods, and then contact us to set up showings!

It's also efficient to build a relationship with a real estate team that can provide a list of references throughout the home buying process. Real Group Realty has strong connections with a community of experts, including lawyers and home inspectors, who we've trusted to take care of our family and friends. Selecting a team that can steer you in the correct direction will prevent you from spending extra time and energy sifting through review pages. 

2. Secure a Mortgage

During a recent surge of Chinese interest in Chicago reality, 76% of all buyers paid with cash, as this payment method expedites the homebuying process.

But, because mortgage rates are currently so low, it might make more sense to finance your new home in the U.S. Many international buyers are meeting with lenders who work with foreign clientele and establishing 5-, 7-, and 30-year fixed-rate mortgages. 

Should you choose to take the latter route, you should expect to place a down payment of 30% on your new residence. You will also need to provide specific documentation to your lender, including:

  • Bank Statements
  • Reference Letters From Financial and Credit Institutions
  • Two Forms of Identification (I.D.)
  • Copies of Passport(s) and B-1 or B-2 Visa(s)

In compiling these documents, your lender is conducting a review of your income and assets. This is a required part of the process, as it shows how you move your assets around and generate income, both of which are factors in securing an affordable mortgage. 

3. Pay the Lending and Closing Costs

Upon securing a mortgage and selecting a home with your agent, you'll need to establish a U.S. bank account and deposit your down payment. And, like U.S. citizens, you'll need to pay closing costs, including lender and third-party fees.

4. Elect Homeowner's Insurance

Every lender in the U.S. requires borrowers to take out a homeowner's insurance policy to protect their home in the event of damage. Regional weather can have an effect on the cost of these policies, and Chicago's four different seasons are (moderately) easy to predict.

5. Understand Your Property Taxes

Property taxes vary by state and county, and you can find more information about Chicago's policies through the Cook County Treasurer's website. Or ask us, we've been around the block (oops, American expression) a few times. 

The Real Group Team would like to be the first to welcome you to the United States! Drop us a line when you're ready to make the big move to the Windy City, and we'll help you every step of the way!

Real Group Real Estate

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2526 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60614

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