If you’re looking to buy a home in a seller’s or “hot” market, you’ve got to be en pointe and ready for anything. The real estate market in any given area can fluctuate back and forth from favoring buyers to favoring sellers and back again, and it’s difficult to predict when the shift will happen. Here are four tips and tricks to arm yourself with so you can get what you want in a seller’s market.

1. Get an agent

An experienced real estate agent is essential to home-buying success when the market favors sellers. Real estate agents can offer their expertise, their insight, and go to bat for you when the process gets complicated. Hot markets are fast-paced and competitive, and a real estate agent can help keep you on your toes (and your head above water) when it’s time to make an offer and make it now.

2. Make your best offer, and make it now

When making an offer in a seller’s real estate market, be aware that you as the buyer are not in a position to make an offer lower than the asking price. This strategy may work in a buyer’s market when homes for sale are plentiful, but it won’t help you when home inventory is scarce and bidding wars are a distinct possibility. Come at the seller with a strong opening offer to get their undivided attention. It’s also important to make an offer quickly. Get in financial shape before you start shopping: know your budget well, improve any credit issues, and have a down payment ready. Get pre-approval if possible. Search for homes a bit below your maximum budget to give yourself some wiggle room if a bidding war ensues.

3. Show sellers you’re serious with pre-approval

Sellers aren’t mind-readers. It’s awesome if you’re in tip-top financial shape, but a seller doesn’t know that for certain unless you’ve been pre-approved (or at least prequalified) for a mortgage loan by a reputable lender. Prequalifying is good, getting pre-approved is even better. This shows the seller that you’re serious about home-buying, and are in a stable position to make a strong offer. Read more about Preapproval vs. Prequalification. 

4. Fall down, get back up, repeat

Rejection hurts. It sucks, no matter the situation. It’s especially frustrating when you’re trying to buy a home. Having offers declined again and again can be daunting, but don’t give up. Learn from every transaction and encounter. Consult your real estate agent on recalibrating your approach, and what you can do better next time. Failing forward is a sure path to success; you just have to keep at it and always learn from your mistakes.

Many areas of the country are a seller’s real estate market right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get what you want when buying a home. Be smart, be prepared, and persevere; and you’ll have your dream home in no time.