Above all else, the quest for your first home should be extremely exciting and a lot of fun. At the same time, however, it may be a little intimidating, especially in the struggle to narrow your search. With all of the homes on the market, how do you find the one that’s right for you? The Mills Team is here to help!
If you’re single, this step is easy; you will undoubtedly seek advice and counsel from friends and/or family members, but ultimately the decision will be yours.
For couples, however, it may help to discuss ahead of time how you will resolve the differences that will inevitably surface throughout the home-buying process. Clarify your expectations: each member of your family will have different priorities. It will make your search much easier if you have already determined what your priorities are.
If children or pets are involved, it will certainly affect the type of spaces and location you need, and you’ll want to take their needs into consideration. We suggest you consider leaving children out of the initial phases of the search and wait to show them the last two or three homes you are considering. This way, the kids can have input without bogging down the process.
Deciding Where to Buy
You may have heard that location is everything in real estate. For a homebuyer, location is very subjective; as with deciding what to buy, deciding where to buy is a matter of determining priorities.
- What lifestyle are you drawn to? Do you prefer a quiet, small town? Or would you like urban night life close by? What type of neighborhood environment do you want for your family?
- Do you want to be near a recreational area, park, or trail?
- Is it important to you to be close to your work, your church, your extended family, or a particular school?
These factors will determine the community in which you choose to settle. Ideally, you’ll be able to find a neighborhood that meets your criteria and where property values are rising and zoning laws preserve the integrity of your neighborhood.
Be sure to check out the detailed community information on our website. When you find a neighborhood you think you might want to live in, you might consider doing some additional research.
- Drive through during the day to check out the condition of the homes and infrastructure. Are lawns, homes, and streets well maintained?
- Are there any parks or trails nearby? Are they well kept?
- Drive through after a rain. Do streets and lawns drain well?
- Drive through at night. Is there on-street parking available? Are the streets well lit?
- Walk through some stores in the area. Do the people there seem like neighbors you would enjoy?
- Visit the local police station to find out about crime rates and the schools to assess their quality and desirability.
The Mills Team can help you find out if property values have risen, declined or stayed the same over the last five years. As you investigate the neighborhood, you’ll also want to check out nearby neighborhoods; their condition may be an early indicator of things to come in the neighborhood you are considering. The Mills Team can be a valuable resource in learning more about Indianapolis-area neighborhoods.
The bottom line is that you don’t want to buy in an area where property values are declining. Signals that an area is on the decline include:
An unusual number of unoccupied homes or homes for sale
- A high number of short-sale or bank-owned homes for sale
Single family homes being converted into multiple-family units
Poorly maintained homes and infrastructure
Increased crime often signaled by burglar bars over windows and doors, by vandalism and by graffiti
Empty retail space
Determining What You Need
By this point, you should have some idea of what you can afford to spend on a home. With that in mind, you need to begin thinking about what you want and then setting some priorities. Ask yourself questions such as:
- What type of home is most appealing to you: ranch, split-level, contemporary, two-story, etc.?
- Which construction do you prefer: brick, vinyl siding, wood siding, stone, stucco, etc.?
- What kinds of activities will take place in your home on a regular basis? If one of you is a student, for example, you will need to have a quiet study area somewhere in your home. If you plan to do a lot of casual entertaining, a rec room may be important.
- How are those activities likely to change with time? How will your needs be different when the student graduates, for example?
- How long do you plan to stay in this home? Does it need to be adaptable as kids grow and needs change, or do you plan to move in five years so that flexibility is less important?
- What kind of ambiance do you want in your home? Bright and sunny? Intimate and cozy? Formal? Informal?
- How many bedrooms will you need? Bathrooms?
- Do you want a master suite?
- Do you want a separate dining room?
- Do you need a basement?
- Do you prefer a large or small lot?
- Is it important to have a garage? Does the garage need to be attached?
- Do you want a fireplace?
- How much square footage do you need?
- Do you need a fenced yard?
- Do you need to be near public transportation?
Once you’ve defined some of your expectations and desires, you can begin to prioritize them. Which items are negotiable and which aren’t? How much flexibility do you have?
You’ll also need to decide if you want to buy an existing home or build a new one. If you decide to buy, do you prefer an older home or a new one? And how, for that matter, do you define “old” and “new”? Talk with The Mills Team about the advantages and disadvantages of each given your lifestyle.
Consult with The Mills Team before you buy a home or lot in a new construction subdivision. You need to know something about the builder/developer and the housing market in the area, and we can help. Although you can’t predict how the area will develop and what future property values will be, if you know that the builder/developer is reputable and the demand for homes is high, you can be reasonably sure that the lots will sell quickly. If demand drops off, however, the builder/developer may compromise their standards and build smaller homes or lower their profit margin, resulting in lower property values for all homes in the neighborhood.
We have helped many clients purchase or build new homes. Remember the builder is the seller and new home sales people work for the builder, not you. Most have no license or formal training to sell real estate, yet many of these sales people advise buyers as if they do. If you do not buy or build with their builder, they can’t help you. We can represent you with any builder at no cost to you. The price of the home is the same whether we represent you or not. We have years of experience in purchasing new homes, and we will assist you in making good selections that will increase your appreciation and resale value. Be sure to tell the builder UP FRONT that you want to work with The Mills Team. After a simple registration process, we can get to work on your behalf!
The Search Process
Today the majority of buyers use the search tools on TheMillsTeam.com to identify the properties they are most interested in seeing. Our site has some of the most advanced search technology available with great community information, all backed by our 20 years+ of experience. We also do searches personally on behalf of our clients to be certain they are not missing out on good home opportunities. You can also have listings delivered to your inbox. Visit our mt First Alerts page to sign up!
Your Best Resource
The Mills Team will be your best resource to find your new home. We use the BLC – and a network of professional relationships – to help you in your search. We will contact you regularly with updates about homes coming on the market that meet your criteria. We will work around your schedule for visiting homes to make it as convenient as possible
When we arrive at a scheduled showing, we will have a printout of the BLC sheet for the home you’re visiting. This sheet will list features of the home and provide information regarding property taxes, homeowner association fees, etc. We suggest you use this sheet to take notes about the homes you’re seeing – especially if you will be viewing several homes in a short time. This will prevent confusion later when you try to remember which feature went with which home.
If the seller or his/her broker is present as we tour the home, we suggest you keep your thoughts and reactions to yourself — we will discuss your thoughts with you after leaving the home. Commenting in front of the seller or his/her broker can weaken your negotiating position by letting them know how much you want the house or how much you’re willing to pay for it. Also bear in mind that we may be under surveillance when touring a home. Don’t eliminate a house with a potential problem without giving some thought to how you might fix it. You are looking for the best home for your needs; you probably won’t find a perfect home, but we are looking for the home that’s perfect for you.