Steps to Buying a Home in River North

07/31/22  |  Julie Latsko

If you’re on the market for a new home in River North, check out the following important steps to make sure you’re on the right track.

River North is Chicago's cultural hub and one of its trendiest neighborhoods, offering its residents a vibrant area to call home. Full of culture and unique shops and restaurants, River North is a “happening” place. Plus, there are popular attractions and affordable properties galore that are worthy to invest in. If you are aspiring to buy River North real estate but don't know where to start, the following is a complete guide to the process.

Find an agent

The first step towards buying your dream home in River North is finding a skilled, knowledgeable real estate agent. Your agent will help you every step of the way, from finding the best house based on your preferences to streamlining the whole purchasing process. Working with an experienced agent who knows the area is one of the best financial commitment decisions you will make when buying a home.

Your agent will discuss your homeownership dreams and goals with you. They will figure out what you are looking for before advising you about the home search and the entire process of buying a home. The agent will lay out a working plan with you based on your needs, preferences, tastes, terms, and urgency.

Get pre-approved

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Unless you are paying cash for your purchase, it’s important to get your loan approved before finding the home of your choice. This will ensure that you look for properties in line with your price range and make your negotiating position much stronger.

Once you know your monthly payments and closing costs upfront, you can make more informed decisions on what to buy. Lenders recommend that buyers look for properties that do not exceed their annual household income by three to five times. This usually applies when you have a few other debts, and you're planning to make around a 20% down payment.

Talk to your lender and let them know how much you can afford for your home. The major factors determining what you can afford to include the down payment, closing costs, and qualification for the mortgage. It is wise to speak to your lender around six to 18 months prior, so you will know how much you should save and have enough time to save it. Partnering with a reliable local lender will improve your confidence and make the whole process much easier.

Start the search

After your initial meeting with the agent, they will set up the search and compile a list of available River North homes for sale that fit your preferences. They will then send you the compilation for you to choose the homes that stand out to you.

When narrowing down your home choices, evaluate important features such as the traffic in the area, availability of street parking for you and your visitors, and location of local amenities such as schools, restaurants, and public transportation.

Your agent will also help with scheduling showings or open house viewings for the properties you are interested in.

It’s important to take your time on such a life-changing decision. Remember that your agent is a valuable resource, as they will review the neighborhood of the properties you are interested in and ensure that you understand everything about a property before deciding.

Make your offer

Once you have found your dream home, it’s time to settle on the price. Your agent will review the market, discuss it with the listing agent, and come up with the best offer package. After a discussion with you, they will present the offer to the seller.

The seller may accept the offer and make the process much easier, but oftentimes they will reject it or come up with a counter offer. After several give and takes, both parties may agree on terms and prices. This then becomes a legal contract. Negotiations can be tough and may sound intimidating at this stage, but with an experienced real estate agent on your side, they will ensure you get a quality property for the right amount.

What you offer for the River North home you’re interested in should depend on a variety of factors, including the condition of the property, the urgency of the seller, and the time span that the home has been listed on the market. Your agent will provide all these data points so that together you can come up with a reasonable price.


After agreeing on the price, it's important to coordinate with a professional inspector to gain an expert opinion on the condition of your prospective new home. The inspector will examine the air conditioners, the furnace, the water heater, the electrical panel, the floors and walls, the roofing, all appliances, and many other important features of the home.

If the inspector discovers major issues that you may have missed when making the offer, discuss this with the seller. You can request a credit from them at closing to cater for the repairs or ask them to fix the issues before closing.

Attorney Review

This is a process in which you engage your real estate attorney to review a purchase or sale agreement and make any modifications if required. The law does not allow real estate agents to provide any legal advice or make any adjustments after acceptance. Therefore, you must hire an attorney to act on your behalf. They will ensure the property has no liens attached and that there is a clear title for the home. They will also negotiate additional terms that may benefit you.

When the transaction time comes, the attorney will be available to assist you after a completed contract. They will also formalize any credits or repairs that the seller agrees to and ensure you receive all important documents where applicable.

Loan application and appraisal

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Once you are confident that your homebuying process in River North is moving on well, you will fill out a mortgage application. The process often involves reading and filling out a lot of documents, which typically takes time. A good lender will advise you on how to stay organized and answer any questions that come up.

The home will also be appraised to ensure that it is worth what you are paying. If the home appraises for significantly less than its asking price, this may cause the purchase to fall through if the buyer and seller cannot agree on a fair price.

Clear mortgage contingencies

The bank's underwriter will review your application and the appraisal you submitted. The underwriting team will usually request additional documentation or information from your side.  An experienced real estate agent will equip you with tips on making all this paperwork easy.

Final walkthrough

In this step, you want to ensure that the seller completed any repairs as agreed upon and that no aspect of the home was damaged during the seller’s move-out. Check for holes in the walls, scuffs to the flooring and doorways, and any areas where damage could have occurred.


You are finally ending the long trip of buying a piece of  River North real estate. You will now meet with your agent, your attorney, the seller's attorney, and the seller at the seller's title company for the final signing and paperwork. After signing, you will pay the fees, close the costs, and pocket the keys to your home. There are a lot of papers involved in this stage, but your attorney will be there to help with any questions or concerns.

To make the last day run more smoothly, carry the following documents with you:
  • Photo identification 
  • A certified check for the down payment and closing costs
  • Social Security Number
  • Your addresses for the past ten years
  • Proof of  homeowner's insurance 
In the end, involving a skilled real estate agent will ensure that the home-buying process is as streamlined and stress-free as can be. Julie Latsko has been in the real estate and design business for over 15 years. Born, raised, and working in Chicago, Julie knows the ins and outs of all the neighborhoods in the city and is equipped with plenty of insight to help you find your dream home. After all, you want a dedicated agent you can count on through your journey. Contact Julie Latsko today.