It is still a good time to buy a home - even a great time to buy a home, but you should be prepared for quite the crowd as you begin to look. As you do so, here are a few suggestions to help you as you look to make an offer on any property:
Find a good realtor. This has to be one of the most critical times in recent history, in which you should research, interview and then depend on a highly qualified and skillful Realtor. Their value cannot be overemphasized. They can help you determine a good value, negotiate with listing agents and have knowledge that when put to use, can make the most of your particular investment and purchase strategy. This includes down payment, appraisal concerns, locations, history of the listing(s) in that area and much more.
Find a good lender. Look for someone that has your interest at heart, listens to your objectives and goals and then works to have you fully approved for the purchase (after having all your ducks in a row). A highly qualified lender with a good name can and will often work to let the listing agent know of your qualifications and needs to be extremely responsive during these competitive times.
Be prepared for failure - This is a very competitive seller's market - don't be easily discouraged, but be prepared to make offers as you come across opportunities. Getting your foot in the door, so to speak, is what is needed to help get your offer accepted.
The market has been turning for at least the last 6 months or more - but we are still just climbing out of the recession. Landing a good home for your family with rates the way they are (still very low), is the goal for all of us who work as professionals in the industry.
Let me know if I can help you in any way - and good luck!