Here are seven tips for buying a home in a low-inventory market:

Get your mortgage before you find a home. Meet with a mortgage broker before you even look at homes. Make sure your credit is what it should be and you provide all the necessary financial information for underwriting before finding a home and making an offer.

Start early. It may take longer to find a home, plus you need to pinpoint exactly what you want so you’ll know it when you find it.

Have your own real estate agent. In a tight market, you need someone who is advocating for you, not juggling loyalties to both you and the seller. Using an agent does not cost the buyer anything, and you may want to sign a contract with an agent to cement that loyalty. A buyer’s agent ensures that your interests always come first.

Line up your professionals early. Once you find a home, you will need to move quickly on inspections and closing steps. We make sure to line up inspectors and closing agents  when you start looking.

Be ready to move quickly. Buyers will move even faster than they did last year, when homes stayed on our market an average of 52 days. When you find a home you like, it’s often smart to tour it the day it goes on the market and make an offer immediately. Always keep in mind that a home you see today and might take 24 hours to decide on, another buyer might’ve seen yesterday and will put an offer today.

Start saving money. If you end up competing with other buyers for a home, an offer with a higher down payment often looks better to a seller. You also can offer a higher earnest money deposit to be competitive. The strength of your offer is really important and shows the seller the stronger most secure candidate to ensure their sale.

Don’t buy a house you don’t want. While you may end up buying a home that doesn’t have every feature you wanted, don’t buy a home you’re not happy with. There is low inventory but there’s more homes coming on the market every day. Once you close, it is yours, you want to be happy with your decision.