Top tips to help first-timers navigate the fast-paced housing market

(BPT) - Across the U.S., the housing market is picking up pace moving into the peak of the summer homebuying season.

In city after city, home prices are on the rise, up 2.3 percent on average between April 2017 and 2018, according to the RE/MAX April 2018 National Housing Report. And there are fewer houses on the market to choose from, with total housing inventory down by 11.3 percent.

Based on home sales in April 2018, the national supply of inventory was at 2.5 months, making it a strong seller’s market. (A 6-month supply of inventory historically indicates a market that is balanced equally between buyers and sellers.)

What’s fueling the demand? More members of the millennial generation entering the housing market, among other factors.

If you’re ready to stop renting and start enjoying the benefits of home ownership, finding the perfect house within your price range can seem daunting, especially in a seller’s market. Keep these things in mind to find and close on that special home.

1. Keep an eye on your credit score

The interest rate of your mortgage matters a great deal. Even a fraction of a percentage can add (or subtract) thousands of dollars over the life of a 30-year loan. One thing that can influence your interest rate is your credit score — it’s just one way for the lender to determine how likely you are to repay the loan. Well before you begin browsing properties online, take steps to get your credit score in the strongest possible position. Review your credit report and report errors immediately. Make on-time payments and put off opening new credit accounts until after the mortgage is finalized.

2. Work with a full-time, experienced real estate agent

Plenty of online services claim you can save money by completing the process without a real estate agent. But as many buyers discover, the savings don’t always come through as promised. In fact, going through this complex process without professional guidance can definitely lead to costly problems later. If you work with an agent, you’ll get to work with a pro who’s in touch with the local market and can lend a helping hand every step of the way. Their expertise can help you find that perfect house and help you craft the right strategy for your offer. Visit remax.com to find a professional agent in your area.

3. Play to your strengths

When you find the right house, you may not be the only one making an offer on the property. That can be intimidating. But keep in mind it’s not always about coming in with the highest dollar amount. Buyers have different motivations to sell. Some may be in a situation where they want to close and move out as soon as possible. They’ll be less likely to work with buyers who have their own houses to sell, making first-time buyers more attractive candidates.

Buying a house is a big step, and in the heat of a seller's market, it takes extra patience and perseverance. Find the right real estate agent to help you through the process, and moving day may arrive sooner than you expected.