Spring weather is right around the corner, and the markets are already heating up. For buyers, that could mean an increase in competition, more multiple-offer scenarios, less wiggle room in negotiations and a spike in home prices. With the help of a REALTOR®, however, today’s buyers can get the most out of a transaction, regardless of how competitive the market gets.

Here, Orlando Regional REALTOR® Association President Reese Stewart shares tips for buyers looking to purchase during one of the year’s most active real estate seasons.

What can buyers expect of the real estate market this spring?

Orlando REALTORS® expect springtime buyers looking in the highly desirable $300,000 and below price to be challenged by low inventory and seller’s market conditions, much as it has been for the past few years. However, buyers in the luxury price category (about $850,000 and above) will enjoy buyer’s market conditions this spring. Buyers in this range can expect a much more robust inventory and greater negotiating power.

What should today’s consumers do to prepare for buying a home?

The first step that REALTORS® always suggest, especially in a seller’s market, is to get your financing in order. This means establishing a relationship with a lender, and then addressing any credit issues and getting not just pre-qualified, but actually pre-approved for a mortgage.

In terms of the offer, what advice can you provide to buyers?

Be sure to discuss with your REALTOR® (in advance) which contingencies you are willing and able to either eliminate or negotiate altogether. Having those points in hand will help your REALTOR® craft the most appealing offer possible in the quickest time frame possible.

What about during inspection negotiations?

Willingness to compromise on inspection findings depends entirely on the buyer’s financial situation and specifics in the contract. Do you want to buy the house regardless of whether it needs a new roof and the seller is unwilling to negotiate, or do you want to be able to walk away from even the smallest findings? It’s important to rely on your REALTOR® to carefully word your contract so that your interests are protected and your intents are clear.

Any other tips for buyers purchasing in the spring market?

Once you submit that initial offer, your REALTOR®’s job is just beginning. We recommend that you stay very accessible to your REALTOR®. Now’s not the time to go on vacation, because you may be required to make complicated decisions very quickly. Even once the offer is accepted, there are still plenty of issues that arise during the inspection and title clearing period, in finalizing your mortgage and when getting closing documents in order.