Buying a new home in Indianapolis.

Buying a new home in Indianapolis

Whether you prefer the far out suburbia of one of our satellite cities, or the urban revitalization of Center Township; whether you want a 1 bedroom condominium downtown, a bungalow in Irvington, or a 4500 square foot traditional American home on the water… there is a home that is perfect for you in Indianapolis. The trick is finding the one that fits you best and then navigating the real estate purchase process to make it your new home. To continue my ongoing mission of making home ownership as accessible as possible through education, todays article is all about buying that first home, from the day you realize you want to buy and right through getting your keys at the closing table.

There are four main stages to the home buying process. They are preparation and consultation, the home search, negotiation and finally contract to close.

Preparation and Consultation. You have decided you want to buy a new home. You have done a little self check and your finances are in order. Where do you start? Many people will tell you to speak to a lender first. While you certainly want to take care of this early in the process, you should probably find and hire a buyers agent first. Here is why. While most financial institutions offer home mortgage options, they are not all created equal. (Here is an article I wrote on selecting a lender if you want more information.) Some are great for car loans. Some are just good for personal banking. Even amongst mortgage brokers, some are great for refinancing home loans, but don’t move quite quick enough to give you the advantages you want in the home purchase process. A professional Realtor will know which is which in your market. We work with them on a daily basis and one of the most common conversations around the water cooler in the office is which lender is doing well and which is messing up other deals. So we start with hiring a Realtor.

Choosing and hiring a real estate agent to help buy your home. This may be the most important part of the home buying process. A quality Realtor will take the stress and mystery out of the home buying process and help you every step of the way. The best way to choose your Realtor is to hire me. The next best option is to talk to all of your friends and family about who they used when they bought homes. Ask them how they felt about the brokers they used, and if they would use them again. Ask them about the services the recommended and if they felt like they were good referrals. Then interview the two or three agents that come the most highly recommended. Hire the one that feels the most comfortable to you. You are going to be working very closely with them.

Consulting with your real estate agent. If you have hired the right agent, the first thing they will want to do is sit down and go over the buying process with you. During that meeting they should discuss the process from beginning to end, explaining to you what to expect at each stage of the process. (Here are 55 things that your agent should do for you during the home buying process). He or she will also spend some time asking probing questions about what you want in a house, so they are familiar with your needs. The big ones are the amount of space you want and what part of town you want to live in, but a good agent will feel you out thoroughly and want to know about bonus rooms, dining arrangements, garages, fences, whether or not you want a formal living room, type of kitchen, your preferred construction styles…and so on. After this discussion, if the Realtor is good and paid good attention to you… they will know your house when they see it and will only be showing it to you for your approval.

The next thing you should expect is for the real estate broker to ask if you have been pre approved for a mortgage. Since you took my advice and hired an agent before moving finding a lender, you will answer no and ask for a  referral. Your agent should then give you two or three lenders that they have worked with and have confidence in to get the job done right and on time.

Once you have your preapproval letter in hand… we get to the fun part.

The home search. When it comes to looking for a new home, everyone has their own process. I outline mine in the 55 things article from the last section and during the buyers consultation. Some buyers use it, and some prefer a more ad hoc search. The truth is that while some are more efficient than others (read: my way, hahah), finding the home you want is probably the easiest part of this whole process.

Once you have done this fun and easy part….its time for the second toughest part of the home buying process.

Negotiation. This is one of the things you hired a Realtor to do for you…and for good reason. Real estate negotiations are a different animal from any other negotiation. For starters, this is probably the largest purchase of your life. It can be very stressful. It can also be very emotional…for both the buyer and the seller. This is one of the primary reasons real estate transactions are best served with a professional Realtor on both sides of the deal. Besides helping you determine the best strategy for getting what you want in the deal, we also offer a layer of protection against emotional decisions. The best of us will help keep you grounded and based in fact based decision making.

Home buying is a specialized negotiation in other ways too. For one, there is much more being discussed than the base price. There are 13 different areas of the purchase agreement that you can lose money in if you aren’t careful. Another is having your finger on the pulse of the housing market. These things don’t exactly change on a dime, but they are in constant flux. In depth knowledge of the local market is imperative to a successful negotiation.

As you have gathered, this is one of the best reasons to carefully elect your agent…and why you want to be comfortable with them. There is a high degree of trust that you are going to be placing with them. You want to be sure they have earned it. Both so they can negotiate a solid deal for you, and so they can do the really hard part.

Contract to close. When I got into this business, a close friend and fellow Realtor described this part of the transaction to me as herding cats. At the time I thought he was being a little over the top. Now, I am pretty sure he was right on the money. More deals fall through during this part of the process than any other. Whether is escrow problems with the property, inspection issues, financing difficulties, or any of the other hundreds of things that can go wrong… this is when they do.

The best way to avoid a negative outcome in this stage, is to work with a Realtor who is proactive about making sure everything is lining up the way it should AND communicating with them throughout the process. Almost every problem between contract to close could have been avoided by one of the professionals in the process doing their job well. A strong Realtor will work diligently to ensure that your closing comes without a hitch. A weak one will leave you wondering if the deal will even get done.

The long and the short of this is: for a successful transaction, work with a strong Realtor who will take the lead and get you into the home you want, at the best price, and with the least complications.

If you want that kind of service, call Robb at 317-657-8059 or email to set up your buyers consultation today.

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About Robb

A husband, Dad to 5, and Grandpa to 9. US Navy Vet. 18 Year Postal Employee turned full time Realtor. I enjoy a wide variety of things, but you will find that here I mostly write about Indianapolis, government/politics, recent news, and whatever book I am reading or have just finished at the moment.
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