Posts Tagged ‘Online Home Search’

How to Be a First-Time Homeowner With No Regrets

Posted by Kelly Todd on February 7, 2014  |   No Comments »

First Time Home Owner







How to Be a First-Time Homeowner With No Regrets

Wandering into the great unknown that is first-time home ownership takes guts, money and guidance. You have to have the guts to take the leap, so that one’s on you. To help you foresee some of the financial pitfalls, there are great resources available, like this one and this one. You can also turn to an experienced lender such as Marty Mates (Caliber Home Loans) or Misi Johnson (Access National Mortgage), or a real estate agent you trust. And you probably won’t be wanting for advice — whether you asked for it or not — from family, friends or coworkers.

Despite all the well-meaning resources available, I meet buyers and sellers everyday who tell me stories of first-time home-buying regret. I hate regret, so to help you act like a pro, even if it’s your maiden buying experience, here are four common regrets I’ve heard about and how to avoid them.

Regret No. 1. “When we bought our first home, we paid attention mainly just to the price.”

Only seeing the value of a home in terms of price and not paying close enough attention to other details can lead to regret. Before making an offer, think about how long you plan to live there. You aren’t likely to stay in your first home forever, so even though it may seem far away, factor in the home’s potential resale value.

When you judge a house by its reasonable price, you might be tempted to focus on the amenities — walk-in-closet, garden tub, big laundry room, etc. — and fail to notice the power lines in the back, lack of a coat closet or “eccentric” orientation of a room with windows. (How are you going to fit a sofa in there?) A “good deal” might not seem like such a good deal after all.

When a number drives your buying decisions, you can also lose sight of your goals. Why are you buying a home? How do you want your home to accommodate your lifestyle? Often, buyers are scared to pull the trigger on the first few houses they see because they are fearful that they are acting too soon. Your real estate agent should help you uncover your goals and priorities and select houses that are the “best fit,” pre-qualifying your options so that you see the best of the best.

Regret No. 2. “We didn’t think through our move very well, and it turned into a real nightmare.”

Whether you’re a typical DIYer or a hire-it-out kind of person, take into account all of your options before committing to a moving strategy.

If you are considering moving yourself, and you have a team of very tolerant, strong, patient friends and family, go for it! Otherwise, I would almost always recommend hiring a professional moving company.

These companies do moves daily and know how to take tricky turns and bends without damaging your walls and belongings. Movers also carry insurance that will cover your items should they break during the move. I’m guessing Uncle Mike isn’t going to re-patch your drywall or replace the Target dresser that loses a leg on your DIY moving day.

Hiring pros can also save time and stress. Before the big day, they will come in and evaluate your move, taking into account everything to be transported, especially items requiring additional security or care, and then provide you with an estimate for your move.

If you are like me, you would rather pack yourself so that you have an opportunity to purge some things (silver lining).  Other people would rather stand in rain for a week rather than pack their own things. If this is you, hiring a mover to pack and move is a good idea. However you pack, be sure to label everything to save time when you unpack at the new place.


Regret No. 3. “I fell in love with a rug/color/pattern/style, dropped a lot of money on it, and it never really worked in our house.”

Do not spend money on new décor before you move into your house! Live in the space, friends. Far too often people get sucked into the weekend “Big Bang Sale” or “Door Buster Savings” and walk away with a sectional for the basement that won’t make it down the stairs. I know moving into a new house is exciting, and decorating is even more exciting, but taking the time to know scale and orientation of how you want to live in a house will save you big bucks down the road. I’ve personally made this mistake several times and I wish I were more patient. When in doubt, consult someone who has a keen sense of style (I love sharing my “decorator” two cents) or an interior designer for feedback.

A lot of people get hung up on defining their personal style and decorate accordingly, which can make your home feel dated fast. Instead of going all out Arts and Crafts, Victorian or modern, consider first what you want from your space. For example, is your family room meant for formal gatherings or do you want it to be your everyday TV-watching-kids-playing room? Let your lifestyle guide your decorating decisions.

Knowing your budget will help you avoid regrets, too.  Decorating is not cheap, but it also doesn’t need to break the bank. Look at photos of rooms and décor that catch your eye. Create a look-book on Pinterest or Houzz. Browse issues of Architectural Digest and House Beautiful. The Indiana Design Center in Carmel is open to the public and offers fabulous resources, from flooring, to fixtures, to countertops. Showing someone an example of what you like will help her or him understand you and assist you with buying decisions.

Be cautious with trends.  I love chevron, but if I put it all over my house, it will look crazy in, say, five years.  It is better to select your staples (couch, rug, etc.) in timeless fabrics and prints, and then use your accessories to “pop” your room.  It is much less expensive to buy a new lampshade or pillows every few years than it is to recover a couch and buy new rugs. I love adding drapery to rooms to warm things up.  This could be a great way to bring in your own style.

My budget go-to shop for those “pop” items is TJ Maxx HomeGoods. Browse their accessories, rugs and lamps. Of course Restoration Hardware, Crate & Barrel, Williams-Sonoma Home have great products and ideas. I also think Target has come a long way in the home décor game, often featuring designers such as Nate Berkus who create seasonal pieces.

Regret No. 4. “We never made friends in our first neighborhood.”

When you are buying a home, you are also buying into all those homes around it. Once you buy, adapting to the neighborhood is a lot easier and more fulfilling when you are proactive about making friends and meeting new people.

Find out if your neighborhood has a homeowners’ association. If it does, check with the folks there regarding the “happenings” of the neighborhood and get involved. An HOA can share with you the ins and outs, and dos and don’ts of your new home base. Even better, being on your HOA board will help you get to know people and be aware and involved regarding changes or issues that may affect homeowners.

To learn the lay of the land of your new neighborhood, don’t wait for neighbors to come to you. If you see someone out and about, introduce yourself!  If there is a parade, pool party, block party, euchre night … attend! You will likely never regret it.


Whether you’re a first-time owner or a seasoned pro, the Kelly Todd Group can help you have the best experience possible. Contact us to meet.

A Time to be Thankful

Posted by Kelly Todd on November 27, 2013  |   No Comments »














The Kelly Todd Group would like to wish you & your family a wonderful Thanksgiving.

We sincerely appreciate your support & business and wish you a lovely holiday season.


Kelly, Michael, Kris & Scott

Being Happy With 90 Percent

Posted by Kelly Todd on November 15, 2013  |   No Comments »
















Being Happy With 90 Percent

When you’re in a relationship, there will be little quirks that your partner has that you would prefer he or she not have. But you live with them and it’s ok. Because 90 percent of the time, your partner is perfect.

Whether you are buying or selling, you will never have a perfect experience. I would love to tell you that everything will be sunshine and rainbows, but this is the real world. While we do everything possible to minimize unexpected hiccups and stress, we can’t control everything. Therefore, it is useful to accept these facts up front so that you aren’t unnecessarily disappointed when something doesn’t go according to the ideal plan.


If you are a buyer, you are never going to get 100 percent of what you want. For example, you might get your ideal location but have to concede the walk-in closets and granite countertops. The important thing is to set priorities. Your agent should know and understand what is most important to you so that he or she can figure out the best compromise when it is necessary.

I typically walk through a home with buyers and raise questions and objections. For example, they need to think about the salability of their home in the future. When you are laying out your priorities, consider how long you plan to be in the house. What are your immediate and future needs?

As they say in the market, “location, location, location.” This proves to be a major key in home hunting. This is not to say that a house on a busy corner is a bad one; it just might not produce the same market as one on a quiet street. The values for two exact homes in different locations could be vastly different.

Think of buying a home like going shopping. You can buy the $1,000 dress, but then you might not have enough money left to buy shoes and jewelry. If money is no object, you might not have this issue. But for the majority of people, you aren’t going to get what you want all the time.

There are some things that I would not call “deal breakers” for buyers because they can be updated or changed relatively easily. These include:

  • Outdated kitchens and baths
  • Bad carpeting or flooring
  • Paint colors
  • Poor landscaping

And then there are those things that buyers should not compromise on. For example, you can’t control how your neighbors treat their homes. If the homes are run-down and in poor condition in the neighborhood you’re considering, this is a bright red flag. Look around the neighborhood and see if it is a place you would like to call home. If every other home looks like it is falling down, but the one house you want to see is perfect, it won’t matter in the long run — keep on looking.

Another deal breaker is if the home doesn’t have the space you need now, and you aren’t willing to add on — move on. Also, consider if the home is located next to immovable items. You will forever be next to power lines, water towers, rail road tracks, highways, sewage treatment plants, etc., if those things are in place today.

As a basic point, the right house should meet your criteria for numbers of bedrooms and baths. The overall space should fit your needs. Oftentimes, people tackle their dream list (think four bedrooms, three full baths, finished basement, fully updated, etc.) but don’t want to face the price.  You may not get everything on your wish list, but you can certainly find 90 percent.

While you need to stick to your guns only your top priorities, you do have to be flexible on location and price. If you prefer to have it all and not adjust the price, you may have to move to a slightly different area from where you are currently searching. If that isn’t an option and you have a set area, you will likely have to scale back your expectations.


The same 90 percent “rule” applies to sellers as well as buyers. Sellers’ biggest hot-button issue is the inspection. Buyers will likely request inspection items the seller doesn’t want to perform. Repairs the buyer considers important often seem ridiculous to the seller, but you have to put yourself in the buyer’s shoes.

A major disappointment can also rear its head when there’s just not a buyer for your home. If there isn’t a buyer, you can’t create one. But you can think about how you might be able to improve the situation.

First, consider the facts. If 15 homes have pended in your market over the past month and you haven’t gotten an offer, look at the condition, price and location of your home. You can’t change your location, so you may want to consider improving the condition or lowering your price. If only one house has pended, the market is just soft and there’s not enough evidence to suggest you need to change either your home’s condition or price.

For sellers, the wait for a buyer is the most common headache that makes the selling experience less than perfect. To improve your odds, your agent should make sure the condition and price of your house are done right, looking at statistics and market research to compare.

They should do everything they can to get people in your house. Consider the number of showings you’re getting; this should be a direct reflection of the market. Hold your agent accountable for generating showings.

It often takes patience for the right buyer to come, and when they come, you have to have the best house — priced competitively, right size, right location, the amenities the buyer wants, curb appeal, etc. Or, you have to at least have 90 percent of what they’re looking for in a home.

Whether you’re selling or buying, the Kelly Todd Group can help you have the best experience possible. Contact us to meet. 

Find Me a House Online: Realtor’s Perspective

Posted by Kelly Todd on August 23, 2013  |   No Comments »

Searching the internet








Find Me a House Online: Realtor’s Perspective

It’s a fact. When someone is looking for a new home, they go online first. But with so many resources and so much conflicting information out there, it can be tough to know where to start besides just Googling “find me a house online.” From a Realtor’s perspective, if I were a non-Realtor in the market for a new home — starting from scratch — here’s how I would approach the online search in Indianapolis.

Step 1. 

Talk to a friend. If you’re not familiar with Indianapolis’s many neighborhoods, ask your friends for their thoughts on where to live. You never know who they know or what they know, so ask people you know and trust before you take your search online. (Google is not a friend, but you can count Mark Zuckerberg as a friend if you’re contacting real friends via Facebook.)

Step 2. 

Once you’ve narrowed in on an area that seems to fit your needs, Google the name of that neighborhood (e.g. Meridian Kessler, South Broad Ripple, Meridian Hills, etc.) to learn more about what it has to offer. Look for features such as restaurants, shopping and schools. Narrow your search to one or two neighborhoods, or a general area of the city.

Step 3. 

Now you can really search online! Here are four search tools to consider.


Most people who live in Indiana are familiar with several real estate brokerages. For the purposes of this post, let’s talk about F.C. Tucker. I’m certainly most familiar with this site and honestly, I think it is the best around. Pull up and begin your search.


Tucker’s website is fabulous for many reasons. Here are a few.

MIBOR Data // Tucker’s website is unequivocally accurate. The data comes directly from MIBOR (Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of Realtors), pulling data three times a day to provide the most up-to-date information to our customers.

Status Checks // On, you can easily tell if homes are pending, active or even if they have an open house scheduled. When you a view a home and it shows that it is “active,” that home is actually available for sale.

Search Ease // You can search by neighborhood or school district, and the site actually provides homes in that neighborhood.

Street Smarts // If your best friend drives by a great house and says, “Hey, check out the home for sale on Delaware,” and gives you no other detail, no need to worry. On, you can search by street names without having any other information. Many national sites require cities, zip codes and more before they will deliver what you want.


The site is very user friendly and easy to navigate, but I have one caveat.

Log In to Do More // The only challenge with the site’s new design is that after you view the detailed property description of three homes, you have to log in do more. This might deter some buyers and send them off to other sites that don’t require an account.

While I’m a big fan of, there are many other more popular sites. Be aware that many of these websites do not provide the most accurate data. Be diligent about where and when your resource is getting its information. The data many other sites publish trickles down from other sources, and by the time it is on their websites, it’s outdated or inaccurate. But I know you might still go there, so let’s talk!


Zillow and Trulia are very popular sites that see a lot of action. Here’s what you need to know.


Sold Info // What is cool with Zillow and Trulia is that you can search recently sold homes to find out how much they fetched.

FSBO Included // Zillow allows you to search houses that are for sale by owner, which is not an available search option on broker’s sites or MIBOR.

User Experience // The site design and graphics on Zillow and Trulia are nice. The layout of information makes it relatively simple for the user to read and navigate.


Don’t Trust a Zestimate // My biggest challenge with Zillow is the “Zestimate” it provides. The Zestimate is Zillow’s estimate of the value for each home featured on its site. I’m not exactly sure how Zillow develops its Zestimates, but its Zestimate Accuracy score for Indiana listings ranked one star out of four at the time of this blog post. Yikes. What I have found is that its numbers are often completely inaccurate, as the comps they use are not ones that a Realtor or even an appraiser would use. The comps should include a combination of these five factors: conditions of sale, financing conditions, market conditions, locational comparability and physical comparability. Since Zillow’s figures are often incorrect (sometimes too high or too low), consumers get an unrealistic picture as to what a house is worth or for what amount they should sell their house.

Outdated Data // The information Zillow and Trulia receive does not come directly from MIBOR and is often outdated by the time it is published on their sites. When I have clients who email me asking to see a home that I know is inactive or has closed, it’s often because they saw the house on Zillow or Trulia. I find myself spending a lot of time clearing up misconceptions about the market and educating buyers and sellers on what homes are truly active in the market.

REALTOR.COM APP has search capabilities and an incredible app. To be honest, I haven’t used its website much, but it does pull from our local MLS (multiple listing system), so that’s a good sign. Here’s the scoop on the app.


Geo Targeted // The app allows you to search for homes based on your physical location. I often find myself in a neighborhood with clients and they will ask, “What else is around here for sale?” The first think I do is whip out my app and search for “nearby homes for sale.” The app shows me which homes are available based on my current position.

Step 4.

Now that you have a clearer idea of the neighborhood you want to explore and how much house you can afford in that neighborhood, find a Realtor to verify the information you’re taking in is accurate and current. Your Realtor will create a customized search for you and you alone — not the masses searching the Internet. I create searches for my clients that will notify them the second a home hits the market that matches their search criteria.

Your Realtor will use our very own Broker Listing Cooperative system, often referred to as BLC, and it is the same feed that all Realtors search on, know and trust. BLC also allows me to be far more specific and detailed. For example, I can create a search that stipulates that a main floor master bedroom must have double sinks in the master bath and a separate tub and shower. When you have a search set up by a professional, you will get the most accurate data — bar none. Your Realtor might also know about homes that aren’t yet on the market. It’s nice to have an advocate with the inside scoop on properties and markets.

Step 5. … looking to the future

You need a partner on your team who can be honest with you and look at a home you’re interested in buying through the eyes of a listing agent. When I help buyers purchase, I am certainly trying to fulfill their needs and wants in a house. However, I am also looking at each home as their listing agent in the future.

I want to discuss any obstacles that the buyer might face when they go to sell their house (busy road, small yard, bedroom configuration, etc.). My goal is to set them up with the perfect home and also create a competitive advantage for them when they are ready to sell. No online search can do that.

If you are ready for Step. 4, contact the Kelly Todd Group, (317) 258-5253