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Where is Oak Park Illinois?

Where is Oak Park Illinois? From a historical perspective, Oak Park lies on top of the shore of the ancient, glacial “Lake Chicago” (now know as Lake Michigan). The long arm of beach gravel and sand that formed between Lake Chicago and the Desplaines Bay is known as the “Oak Park Spit.” Since the land was once covered by oak trees the village was originally named Oak Ridge. This was once the land of the Pottowatomie, Sac and Fox Indians.

For those wondering, “where is Oak Park Illinois” in a more contemporary sense, the most important thing to know is that Oak Park is located immediately west of the city of Chicago, in fact only 7 miles away from “the loop”, which is one of Chicago’s most vibrant community and commercial areas. This close proximity to one of America’s most entertaining urban centers makes Oak Park a very attractive place to live. Additionally, the thriving community of about 52,000 people is known for its architectural heritage and diverse population. Within its 4.5 square miles live one of the region’s most diverse mixes of cultures, races, ethnicities, professions, lifestyles, religions, ages and incomes.

Despite being an outstanding place to live, Oak Park was not exempt from the recent economic downturn that lowered property values and increased foreclosure rates. In fact, if you’ve been considering relocating to the Oak Park area, now may be the perfect time. Home values are still reasonable and mortgage interest rates are extremely low.

Oak Park’s median home price is approximately $275,000. Considering the median income for a family was $103,840 in 2010, the home values are on par with the budget of the town’s residents.

Before you begin looking for a home to buy in Oak Park, you need to make sure you do your research. This does not mean to start looking for your favorite streets in town, it means you need to research mortgages and evaluate your finances.

Three Steps to Take When Considering House Prices in Chicago and Buying

  1. Set your budget -
    People often make the mistake of thinking their home budget is the amount they can qualify for in a home loan. This simply is not the case. Even in today’s conservative lending environment you can probably qualify for a bigger loan than what makes sense for you financially. Review your finances to determine how much you can afford to pay monthly for your mortgage. It is important that you make sure there is enough left over to cover your other bills, and set a little aside for an emergency fund. Use the current interest rates to calculate the home price that will give you a mortgage payment you are comfortable with.
  2. Find a lender -
    You have the option as a borrower to try to obtain a loan directly from a lender, or to work with a mortgage broker who will shop your loan out to various lenders on your behalf. Make sure you understand all the components to the loan including prepayment penalties, appraisal costs, application fees, closing costs, broker fees, points as well as the interest rate. All these factors can make a loan with a bigger interest rate a better deal then the loan with the lowest rate, but more costs.
  3. Apply for the loan -
    This is the easy part. Once you have done your homework you can go ahead and apply for the home loan. Make sure you have all the necessary documentation handy. This typically includes recent tax returns, pay stubs and additional financial documentation. Once all these documents are reviewed your loan will be ready to close.

House prices in Chicago can be high and making the decision to buy a home is a big one. Make sure you do your research about where you want to live and how much it’s going to cost you. Whatever you decide, make sure you’re prepared to live there for several years. Gone are the days where it makes financial sense to buy a home, renovate it, flip it and move out after one or two years.

You may decide that Oak Park is not the place for you, but once you have your mortgage details organized you can begin looking at homes all over the Chicago area until you find the one that fits you best.