If you’re looking to buy a home in 2018, it’s important to study up on the market first.

Doing so can not only make you a savvier buyer, but it can also help you get a better deal, on a better property, in a better location.

Are you considering buying a home this year? Here’s what you need to know:

1. You need to act fast.
Inventory is still pretty tight, and that means there’s a lot of competition for the few properties that are out there. If you want to snap up that dream home, you’d better be ready to act fast. You may even need to schedule a showing, put in a bid and be ready to sign a contract all within a few days of a home hitting the market. Have you phone near you, and be prepared to pick up your agent’s call at moment’s notice.

2. You’ll need an edge.
Because the market is on the competitive side right now, you should do everything you can do get a leg up on other buyers. Getting pre-qualified for your mortgage loan is one way to do this, as it assures sellers that you’re a safe bet as buyer. You can also save up for a bigger down payment, offer more earnest money or waive certain contingencies (like home inspections, etc.) Talk to your agent about ways you can edge out the competition in your local market. They may have other alternatives that can help.

3. The West and Northeast are most expensive.
If you don’t want to empty your pockets to buy your home, you may want to steer clear of markets on the West and Northeast coasts. Prices in those areas are skyrocketing, and they’re not showing any signs of slowing down. The most affordable housing options are in the South and Midwest – places like Texas, Kansas and Ohio.

4. Mortgage rates are rising.
It looks like mortgage rates are on the rise, so if you’re considering a home purchase, you might want to act sooner rather than later. As of now, they’re still just slightly over historic lows, but as the year goes on, the story might change. Act now if you want to lock in rates that can guarantee a low monthly payment over time.

Still, if you’re planning to wait a few months to buy your home, don’t fret about rates just yet. Instead, focus on increasing your credit score. Doing so can help you qualify for a better rate and may even help you secure different types of funding. Work on paying down your credit card balances and debts, and make sure you’re making payments on time, every time.

5. You may want to consider new construction.
For the first time in a while, new construction starts are actually increasing. In the face of low existing home inventory, this is a great sign for today’s buyers. If you’re having trouble finding a listing that meets your needs and budget, consider looking into look home builders instead. You can either build your dream home from the ground up or look into already built model homes. Either way, you’d get a brand new property that’s all your own, at a price you can afford.

6. Neighborhood matters.
Prices, inventory and levels of competition don’t just vary from city to city, but from neighborhood to neighborhood, too. Some communities are simply more in demand than others, and that means higher prices, more bidding wars and fewer homes to choose from. Sit down and talk with your agent about the neighborhoods in your town. Which ones are most competitive? Which ones are most affordable? Where should you focus your efforts? Tap their expertise to find the right match for you.

7. Think ahead.
When purchasing a home, it’s important not to just look at the price tag now – but the price tag it could fetch five, 10 or 20 years down the road. Is the home in an area that’s expanding? Are home values on the rise? Would you likely get a return on your investment? Work with your agent to find a home that will make you money in the long term. That should be your ultimate goal.

Looking to Buy in 2018? We Can Help

Choosing the right partner is crucial to finding the right home, at the right price. If you’re looking to buy a home in the Schertz area this year, contact The Claus Team today. We’ll help you hone in on the best neighborhoods for your budget and preferences, and we’ll start setting up showings right away.