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Find Your Home with Stefani REG

Stefani Residential Group exists to give you the best real estate experience. We are assisting clients around the Chicago area buy, sell, invest in and rent properties every day — and love what we do. Our teamwork, experience and humble commitment to serving our clients is the reason why our referral business continues to grow. We strive to make the search, valuation and transaction processes simple, making you feel right at home, even before we locate the perfect property and/or prep yours for sale.

"My brother-in-law recommended Chris because he is great with first time home buyers. He does not recommend a purchase unless he would purchase it himself. His great communication made the process fun and easy every step of the way."

Stephanie G., River North

The Buying Process: 6 Easy Steps

Buying a property is not easy, but the process can be with good communication.  From the beginning, Stefani REG articulates the process from lender/mortgage broker pre-approval to the eventual transaction closing.


Work with Stefani REG

Selecting a real estate agent is clearly an important decision.  Buyers should consider an agent’s referrals, sales experience, communication skills, industry resources and market knowledge when determine which agent to work with. Chris brings all these tools to the table.


Get Pre-Approved

Speaking with a lender/mortgage broker will assist in determining a buyer’s budget range.  The pre-approval process will ultimately determine this range. Selecting an experienced and highly communicative lender/mortgage broker is one of the key to providing an efficient and hassle-free buying and, more importantly, closing process.  


Buyer Wishlist

Understanding a buyer’s motivations to purchase is key to assisting Stefani REG when targeting the right properties to review.  Information regarding minimum beds, baths, location, size, property type all (along with budget) help Chris craft a specific search for each individual buyer.  As the property search progresses, a buyer’s criteria will generally adjust.  Therefore, Stefani REG believes in clear communication throughout the buying process.


Property Search

Touring prospective properties is a fun process once the previous steps are properly executed. The process averages four to eight months (including the average two-month period from contract date to closing date).  Chris recommends buyers tour 10-20 properties prior to making an offer, as in-person visits are always more informative than reviewing properties on-line.  Each tour provides a learning experience that builds on itself, ending with an accepted purchase agreement (and happy client).


Present Offer

Once the perfect property has been found, it is offer time.  Chris works with clients to determine value based on market comparables and an offer strategy.  Chris explains the offers terms to his clients and presents the offer to the listing agent (along with the buyer’s pre-approval).


Negotiate Terms

Chris enjoys the negotiating process.  He has multiple negotiating strategies depending on the target property’s situation.  The following are influences on negotiating strategy:  slow/hot market, property days on market, property price point and multiple offer situations.

Important Purchase Agreement Contingencies

Stefani Residential Group exists to give you the best real estate experience. We are assisting clients around the Chicago area buy, sell, invest in and rent properties every day — and love what we do. Our teamwork, experience and humble commitment to serving our clients is the reason why our referral business continues to grow. We strive to make the search, valuation and transaction processes simple, making you feel right at home, even before we locate the perfect property and/or prep yours for sale.

Inspection Contingency

Buyers are allowed to procure a licensed home inspector at their own cost. The final sale may depend on either the property conditions meeting the buyer’s satisfaction as-is, or with certain additional credits or agreements based on the results of the inspection.

Attorney Review Contingency

Once the buyer and seller’s brokers have organized the terms of the contract offer, both parties are permitted to have the document examined by their separate attorneys, who may then advise their clients to either accept the deal, reject the deal, or suggest altered terms.

Mortgage Contingency

Before the sale is considered final, the buyer must provide proof that they have secured a loan towards the purchase. This contingency allows the buyer to rescind their offer if financing does not materialize, and the property will be placed back on the market.

Important Buyer Milestones

(The Transition from Purchase Agreement (Contract) to Closing)

Several milestones exist post-purchase agreement and prior to closing.  Below are the milestones buyers should be mindful of throughout the buying process. Lengths of time below are estimates and are often extended by mutual agreement of both the parties.


Initial Earnest Money Due (1-2 Days Post-Purchase Agreement)
Within in a few days, buyers are expected to deliver an initial earnest money check (generally) to the property’s listing brokerage.  There is not standard amount due. However, most of the time initial earnest money ranges from $1,000-$5,000 (often depending on the property’s purchase price and mutual agreement by both parties). Submitting initial earnest money essentially takes the home “off” the market and allows for the attorney review/inspection period. Initial earnest money is generally refundable based on the findings and further negotiations during the attorney review/inspection period.


Attorney Review/Inspection Period (5-10 Days Post-Purchase Agreement)
The buyer and seller attorneys will review and modify the purchase agreement. Modification occurs for several reasons, including tweaking of contract language and the negotiation of inspection and/or tax credits. The inspection period generally runs concurrently with attorney review period. This allotted inspection window allows the buyer to have subject property inspected to review its condition for any noteworthy issues not noted during the property tour. Chris recommends his buyers always conduct the property inspection. Inspections findings are different per property, so buyers and sellers will negotiate either fixes and/or a credit due to the buyer for any issues that are exposed during the inspection. Stefani REG highly encourages the use of an experienced real estate attorney and professional property inspector to assist in the buying process.


Earnest Money Balance Due (10-12 Days Post-Purchase Agreement)
Once the parties agree to the terms negotiated during the attorney review/inspection period, the earnest money balance check is due (generally) to the property’s listing brokerage. At this point, there are only a few ways to get the earnest money refunded (e.g., the buyer is not approved for a loan).  


Mortgage Contingency Period (30-35 Days Post-Purchase Agreement)
This time is allotted for the formal lender evaluation of the borrower’s credit worthiness and the property’s appropriate value, which entails an appraisal scheduled by the lender (paid for by the buyer). A mortgage commitment is different from a pre-approval. The pre-approval is a preliminary approval for a loan amount based on initial information the buyer provided to the lender. Once a purchase price has been agreed upon, lenders call for a formal loan application. This begins the lender’s process of reviewing the buyer’s financial information and determining if the subject property is warrantable (e.g., worthy of the purchase price, meets lender loan requirements). It is important to note that once the lender has approved the loan, the total earnest money delivered is “almost” non-refundable (depending on the specifics of the deal).


Walk-Through (58-60 Days Post-Purchase Agreement)
A walk-thru by the buyer and both agents is usually scheduled within 24 hours prior to closing to verify the subject property is in good condition and that all (if any) agreed to inspection repairs were completed.


Closing (60 Days Post-Purchase Agreement)
Both parties’ representatives meet (usually at a designated title company) to transfer the possession of the traded property. Buyers generally are in attendance. Sellers are not.  

Stefani REG's Network of Industry Resources

Several professionals will assist in the buying process. Below are a few that clients are recommended to retain. Stefani REG’s resources include a network of highly qualified professionals for your service. Clients are always encouraged to utilize their own real estate professional network if preferred.

Real Estate Attorneys
Although Stefani REG will manage the buying process throughout, an attorney will handle the deal’s legal aspects upon purchase agreement. An attorney examines appropriate documentation, negotiates any possible sticking points with the seller’s attorney and provides important guidance at the closing.

Property Home Inspectors
The inspector evaluates the condition of the home’s major mechanical/appliance systems and structural integrity. An inspector will also assess how these systems work together and identify areas that need to be monitored, repaired or replaced.

If a inspector notes a material issue during an inspection, it is certainly a good idea for a buyer to call in a professional contractor to give a legitimate estimate on how much the issue might cost to repair or replace. It is best to do this during the concurrent attorney review/inspection period.

Mortgage Brokers
An experienced lender/mortgage broker will streamline the buying process. Quality lending professionals accelerate the search process and post-purchase agreement via a pre-approval letter and mortgage commitment letter, respectively. Most sellers require a qualified pre-approval, so Stefani REG recommends clients get pre-approved before or very early during the search. There are multiple benefits to getting pre-approval prior to the search. They include verifying the mortgage amount for which you qualify for (saving time by defining by the search price range), alerting you of any credit report issues (enabling clients an opportunity to repair the problem) and informing clients of transaction buying transfer costs.

Buyers FAQs

What's the difference between pre-qualification and pre-approval?

Pre-qualification is a simple process. The buyer is asked specific questions about their income, assets and liabilities. Based on this information, they are provided with an amount for which they may qualify for to purchase a property. This process is often completed verbally level or electronically via the Internet.

A pre-approved buyer is one who is actually approved for a loan of a certain amount. The pre-approval process is much more involved. The borrower provides proof of income, list of assets and liabilities, which will all be reviewed by the lender.  Sellers generally want a bona-fide pre-approval prior to agreeing to sell property.

When dealing with borrowers, what concerns lenders the most?

When dealing with borrowers, lenders’ main concern is risk.  Lenders proactively manage these risks by requiring four things from a borrower:

  • Down Payment: Statistics have proven that borrowers who put down 10% or more unlikely to default on a loan.

  • Excellent Debt to Income Ratios:  Borrowers with high debt and low income are a high risk because they are using too much of their income to pay down their current debt (e.g. credit cards, car loans, etc.). A potential borrower with high debt and low income is noted as having a high DTI (debt to income ratio).

  • Job History:  Long-term employment is a good predictor that a borrower will have a steady stream of income, which likely will not be interrupted by a career change or termination.

  • Excellent Credit: Credit scores give great insight to the lender re a borrower’s creditworthiness. Lenders take a close look at FICO scores.  FICO stands for Fair Isaac Credit Organization, the organization that developed the formulas used by credit bureaus to calculate credit scores. Go to to learn more.

Why do credit scores vary? And what do lenders prefer?

The three major credit bureaus are: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Credit scores will vary from bureau to bureau because each bureau emphasizes different credit factors, several of which include delinquencies, a high number of credit cards, high credit card balances, too many recent credit inquiries, tax liens, judgments, bankruptcies and length of credit history.

Credit scores are calculated using a scorecard that allocates points for each of the above factors; however, lenders do not get to see the entire scorecard, all they see are the final scores. FICO scores can range from 300-850.

How do I get started?

That is easy. Just contact Chris at 312.672.2250 and/or at  

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