A Great Real Estate Broker – your first team member

The most important part of any design/build project is developing the overall vision for your house.  You’ll need to know where it is going to be built and what features are important to you before you can begin the actual house design.  The best way to figure this out is to look at a lot of houses. 

Your real estate broker will be your partner in this house hunting adventure.  He will educate you about neighborhoods, market trends and values.  He will also be a good resource for identifying lenders, builders and other professionals you will need to work with throughout the project. 

You will be spending a lot of time with your broker as you explore potential neighborhoods and then look for the right spot for your dream home.  It is very important to work with someone you both like and trust. There are many online resource about finding a broker. About.com has a guide that covers the basics of working with a real estate professional.  Bankrate.com also has a great article; I especially like the guidelines section on page 2.

As you interview brokers, be up front about your design/build plans.  Unlike a traditional house hunt where buyer will look at houses until he finds “the one”, your house hunt will come in two phases.  First, you’ll look at houses to figure out what neighborhoods are right for you and to get a better idea of what your house will be like.  Then you’ll look at available land and houses in those neighborhoods to see choose a location and determine if you’ll be building on vacant land, tearing down a home or doing a significant renovation of an existing property. 

You really will be spending a lot of time with your broker.  We looked for a house for almost four years before we decided to build.  Michael Bauknecht, my broker, tells me he showed me over 80 houses.  If you’re looking to buy or build onthe North Side of Chicago, you definitely should interview him.

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