(StatePoint) – Prospective homebuyers can be encouraged by the current market.

Nearly 68 percent of homes sales today are to individual buyers compared to 53 percent in 2011 when investor and cash deals were at their peak. Still, competition for housing is hot.

“In a competitive market, your offer may be one of many. But you can take steps to increase your chances of success,” said Chris Bowden, senior vice president of HomeSteps, the real estate sales division of Freddie Mac.

The experts at HomeSteps and Bowden are offering homebuyers some important tips for making an offer in today’s market. Bowden encourages buyers to understand their finances. While it’s not nearly as fun as house hunting, fully understanding finances is critical to helping determine a price limit and whether one’s budget can cover necessary upgrades, as well as monthly expenses for general upkeep and utilities, which can run hundreds of dollars monthly.

He suggests a buyer act fast. When home inventory is low, the sooner one can make an offer, the better. Getting pre-approved can help a buyer make a confident offer.

Make a strong offer that will be comparable with other sales and listings in the neighborhood. A licensed real estate agent who is active in the neighborhoods will be instrumental in helping put in a solid offer based on recent sales of similar homes, the condition of the house and what one can afford.

Always ask the seller for a home warranty as part of an initial offer. That way the buyer will be covered if appliances or mechanicals fail or break down after purchase.

Prepare to negotiate. Be prepared for counteroffers. The two things most likely to be negotiated are the selling price and closing date

Lastly, get a home inspection. Always get an independent home inspection to know the true condition of the home. If the inspection uncovers undisclosed problems a buyer can typically re-negotiate the terms or cancel the contract.

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