7 Must-Dos for New House Hunters in River North and Lakeland Florida

Rohan Mathew

Updated on:

Once an old manufacturing area, River North is now one of the best places to live in Chicago. The place has now become the most fashionable and trendsetting neighborhood with historic places melded with modern design and amenities.

Whereas, Lakeland is a Florida city, is also known for its early-1900s architecture and antique shops. 

Living in River North and Lakeland offers residents a dense suburban feel. There are many art galleries, restaurants, nightclubs, parks, and other infinite entertainment options. Many young professionals living here tend to have moderate political views.

Buying a house in these places can be a challenging yet incredibly exciting experience for first-time buyers. However, experienced buyers have ever said house hunting was easy—they believe that the process contains numerous challenges, and there’s no reason to sit calm. In this article, we have come up with seven essential steps to prepare you for your next house hunting. Follow this guide to reduce your worry, save time, and increase the chances of success.

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7 Essential House Hunting Tips

You can reduce stress by taking a proactive approach as discussed below.

Get pre-approved mortgage

Getting a mortgage takes a little hard work, but it is worth considering. It is essential you know how pre-approved mortgage works. The best part is when you attach a mortgage letter with your offer, it ensures the seller that you’re an authentic buyer, making the home selling process faster. 

Determine the amount you can afford on new home

Even though you’re pre-approved for a mortgage, that doesn’t mean you ignore other major expenses, such as insurance, property taxes, home maintenance, utilities, and homeowner’s association fees. You must take these additional expenses into account to see what you can easily afford for a monthly mortgage payment.

Location––Search the neighborhood

Please narrow your search by location as it will help keep you more focused. By deciding the area you want to reside in, you’ll find only a selected number of Homes For Sale In Lakeland FL or river north within your budget.

However, we would suggest you explore other neighborhoods with an open mind and that have the same characteristics you want but are less expensive. You must also extend your search to condos, single-family homes, or townhome to see if they suit your budget. 

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Look with a well-trained eye

When visiting the home for inspection, we suggest you go with your real estate agent who has years of experience in the field. He will have a closer look at areas you might ignore. Likewise, you can take a home inspector along with you. 

Furthermore, make a checklist and click pictures of the interior and exterior. Write your comments as it will help you make the final decision. 

Here’s a handy list of things to keep in mind when searching a home. 

  • Look at the home’s potential and NOT how it’s currently decorated. That ugly wall and carpet can be changed easily.
  • Focus more on the size; don’t be swayed by those beautiful cabinets if the kitchen is small for your family.
  • Focus on its floor plan, room layout, and room flow. Does it fit your family size and their needs? 
  • Make sure bathrooms and kitchen work properly as we know that these rooms cost more to renovate.
  • Check if there’s a sign of a leaking basement. Do not compromise on wet basements because they can be a nightmare for your family.
  • Look for a solid foundation, especially if home is old. Check if there any crack on interior and exterior walls? Are the floors in good condition?
  • Examine roofing and siding of the home. These can be expensive replacements, so check them properly. 
  • See if the windows are enough for you. What about the view?
  • How’s the condition of its electrical? Does the home have AC? 
  • Is there room for expansion? See if this new place may meet your future family needs. 

Research latest market trends

In recent months, the Lakeland FL, and River North Chicago housing market have changed a lot. This did not happen with the real estate industry, but many other sectors got affected by COVID-19. The prices of homes fluctuate many times during the year, but on average, the housing market becomes favorable for the buyers. No doubt, the year 2020 teaches us a lot.

Negotiate till end

To get home at the best price, you will need to negotiate. When you buy a home, your seller will probably expect you to lower the cost until the last offer. This assumption of the seller will lead him to raise the property price when first asked. So, it would be best if you learned to close the deal with proper consulting. Yes, it is the same as you shop for a new car––requires comparing offers. 

Now, let’s have a look at some best tips to negotiation 

  • Know your market
  • Check the selling price of nearby homes
  • Always communicate through a trusted real estate agent
  • Get an inspection
  • Get personal
  • Wait for the final closing costs.

Check Online Portals 

In this pandemic situation, both buyers and sellers are using online portals the most––both home searching and selling are at peak via these online platforms without being exposed to a bunch of people.

Being a buyer, you must search for the best real estate websites. Next, use the search bar to write your demand like ‘apartment for rent in river North Chicago.’ The search results will drive you through the results of your choice. Learn to use these platforms, so you never miss any opportunity. 

Now, let’s see some of the most common pitfalls in first-time home buying process

  • Not having a clear wishlist
  • Not working with a real estate agent
  • No knowledge of first-time buyers program
  • Not obtaining a pre-approval letter
  • Not managing expectations
  • Ignoring location
  • Not inspecting properties accurately 

Is it essential to interview real estate agents?

The answer is YES. If you’re a serious buyer, we advise you to search for the best agent with years of experience in the field. The right agent gives buyers access to a multiple listing service, simplifies the rest of the process, and close deals with great pricing. Never think about purchasing a home without a real estate agent!

Tips for finding the right agent

  • Ask for recommendations from your loved ones.
  • Contact the reputable real estate agencies––you must search online 
  • Meet agents personally to talk in detail
  • Look up agents website 


If you’re a first time home buyer, you may face a lot of difficulties preparing for the house-hunting process. Unfortunately, the process can be challenging for those buyers who begin the process unprepared. House hunters need to be vigilant about the demands for their intending property because any confusion would end you up making mistakes. Make a final decision and move on to your new home happily.

Thank you for reading! 

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