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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – It’s a seller’s market in Indianapolis right now, and “starter homes” are going fast and well above asking price.

A new Harvard University study shows it’s part of a nationwide trend, and first-time home buyers are having a difficult time keeping up.

Andrea Luster said first-time home shopping is frustrating.

“Am I not going to find the perfect home?” asked Luster. “Am I just going to have to settle?”

The answer is yes and no, according to a local realtor.

Joel Clausen is a real estate broker for Keller Williams in Indianapolis. He said first-time home buyers need to be realistic.

“A lot of first-time home buyers, unfortunately, are in the lower price range,” said Clausen. “Which means, more people can afford that price.”

It’s an extremely competitive market. That’s why he suggests looking early.

“Don’t wait 30 or 40 days before your lease is up. You’ve got to start looking before because it gives you options,” said Clausen.

With such low inventory, some first-time home buyers are becoming first-time home builders. Sometimes, this is the cheaper route or at least you’ll be getting more for your money. However, if you’re in a hurry to move in, this is probably not the best option for you.

Clausen said escalation clauses are becoming more common.

“It’s saying, I want this house, and I want it really bad, and I will go $1,000, $1,500, $2,000 over whatever offer you have on the table up to this point,” explained Clausen.

He said move-in ready homes are rare, so people may need to expect projects.

“Got to be able to do a little bit of fixes yourself because the market is so competitive right now,” said Clausen.

Some other ways buyers can attract sellers include going with a local lender and writing a letter with pictures of your family attached.