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A 3-Step Plan for Finding and Buying The Perfect Home In The Michiana Area



Ready to start your Michiana home search? Here's where to begin.


Chances are you’ve considered buying a home in Mishawaka, Granger, South Bend or Elkhart areas — maybe you even attended a couple of open houses in the Michiana area and ran the numbers. But once you get serious, there are a few points you need to consider before signing a contract and heading with your local Michiana realtor to your closing.

Buying a home takes more time and research than, say, buying a tablet, smartphone or the next hot game counsel. Before diving in, it’s important to understand the home buuying process. Every home buyer’s journey happens on a slightly different timeline, but here are some steps prospective buyers should take before they take action.

        1. Search the Michiana area and discover

The home-buying process often occurs organically, and may begin a year or more before the actual purchase. You’ll get started by viewing homes online or driving the Michiana neighborhoods to discover what types of homes you can get in different price ranges.

Look at homes in your favorite neighborhoods, it could be in Mishawaka, Elkhart, Granger or South Bend and review statistics and reports on home values. Use this time to dream about some of your favorite home features, and start to put together a list of home priorities that you and your family must have.

Most first time home buyers or seasoned home buyers will find a property during this phase that prompts them to move to the next stage.

  1. It’s important to do the math and your required homework

Most would-be home buyers need a home loan to purchase a home. While the process has gotten easier as we’ve moved farther away from the financial and lending crisis, it can still be challenging if you’re not prepared.

You need to know what you and your family financially can afford, the types of loans available and how what you can afford will affect your home search in the Michiana area. Pull a credit report and understand your financial situation. Then you can get pre-approved. If you’re not sure where to go contact real estate agent Keith Raven and he would be happy to guide you to a few local lenders that are experts in the home lending process for the Michiana areas.

Many buyers need to repair their credit score, save more money or allow cash to season for some time before buying. Use the next few months to address any financial issues and budget your tax return money wisely in the event you want to use some of that as your down payment.

  1. Dive into the viewing process and have fun

At some point along the way, you should contact a local real estate agent like Keith Raven. These relationships form early, and having that person beside you during your search will be invaluable.

Go to open houses, make appointments and see as many homes as possible. Before making an offer, you’ll need to know the market inside and out. The more homes you see in the Michiana area, the more you will know about the markets in Elkhart, Mishawaka, Granger and South Bend, and the more confidence you will have when that dream house comes along.

And if you miss out on a deal or two, it’s okay. It’s all part of the process. Don’t feel rushed, and realize that the home search often becomes a part-time job. Have fun with it.

If you find yourself in the real estate market prior to doing significant research, you may be jumping the gun. Unlike a tablet, smartphone or even a car, a home is a long-term investment — and a special one at that. It’s where your life will happen. Move too quickly and buyer’s remorse can creep in.

Why it pays to list your home in the winter.





Spring may still be peak home-shopping season, since most families want to move when the kids are out of school. Yet it actually pays to list in the winter, when buyers tend to have more urgency: A study by online brokerage Redfin found that average sellers net more above asking price during the months of December, January, February, and March than they do from June through November, even in cold-weather cities like Boston and Chicago. And homes listed in winter sold faster than those posted in spring.

Should you put your home on the market now? Unless you need to sell (say, you’ve purchased your next home or are relocating for a job), “timing always depends on supply and demand,” says Indianapolis real estate agent Christine Dossman.

To understand your local climate, check the number of days on the market for current and recently sold listings. If most are sitting for more than 60 days, it’s safer to wait until spring, when more buyers will emerge. Yet “if properties are selling quickly, take that as a green light to list,” says real estate broker Peggy Yee of Vienna, Va.

If you do move forward, these strategies will help make your home a hot seller this winter.


Price It Right

The quieter winter market brings special pricing considerations. Unlike in spring, when there are more shoppers—and it may make sense to price low to try to generate a bidding war—you’re less likely to receive multiple offers.

Winter is also a bad time to test the market and list high. If the house doesn’t sell, you may need to drop below market value to nab a buyer before new properties appear in spring and make yours look stale by comparison.

The upshot: Take a conservative approach and price at market value, Yee advises. Check closing prices of comparable properties sold in the past 30 days, then eye current list prices to make sure your home won’t look overpriced.

Schedule a Tune-Up

Winter buyers are particularly attuned to issues related to heating and maintenance. Get your furnace, HVAC, and roof inspected, and make any necessary repairs. Also on your to-do list: Clean the gutters, change air filters, and weather—strip the windows.

Many cold-weather house hunters will also be thinking about heating costs. Consider low-cost upgrades like insulating the attic or installing energy-efficient windows, which can slash utility bills, says Brendon DeSimone, author of Next Generation Real Estate.


Brighten Your Home

Snow and gray skies make for a gloomy first impression. Warm up curb appeal with basic landscaping, and add inexpensive cool-weather plants like holly to invigorate outdoor space. Fix chipped paint, caulk windows, and repair cracked window seals, which can cause condensation that freezes over and creates an eyesore.

Offset the season’s poor natural light by painting your house off-white throughout—it sets a consistent color palette and makes the space feel larger, says Sacramento interior designer Kerrie Kelly.

And create a sense of warmth throughout the home, starting with the living room, where staging can have the greatest impact, according to a National Association of Realtors report. Items like a throw blanket can set the tone since “people are in winter mode,” says Annette DeCicco, a New Jersey regional sales manager at Berkshire Hathaway. Just don’t tie the space to a specific religion or belief, advises Kelly. To stay neutral, use such seasonal touches as stacked wood by the fireplace rather than holiday decorations.

As always, de-clutter and depersonalize. Put away family photographs so that buyers can see themselves living in the home; instead display pictures that show what the property looks like when the temperature is warmer, like the garden in full bloom or the backyard in the summertime. Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean buyers can’t appreciate what your home has to offer year-round.



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