Buying a home is no small feat, especially since the rules keep changing. Meaning that even though you bought a house in the past, the process is a little different. So, what worked back when you first bought your home may not fly in 2018. This year you will face new tax codes, tough competition, and more that will require you to enhance your home buying skills.

New Tax Codes

New year, new taxes. Although recent tax reforms have stirred up concerns that homeownership is being put further out of reach for many Americans, the reality is that these tax reforms should not deter you from buying a house.

For example, 2018 homeowners can deduct mortgage interest on loans up to $750,000, which is down from $1 million. However, according to data, the average list price of a home is only $270,000. So, basically, this change is expected to affect just 1.3% of new mortgages, mostly in pricey markets such as California, New Jersey, and New York. Essentially, you shouldn’t give into the fears about the new tax code until you do your homework to find out how it is going to affect you.

More Competition

The days of multiple offers are back due to the housing stock being at record lows across the country. So, when you start the home buying process you should prepare yourself to enter into a bidding war against all-cash buyers. Unlike in previous years, all-cash buyers are coming in at or above listing price all while waiving appraisals and contingencies.

Last year 23% of all home purchases were made with all cash and no mortgage, according to the National Association or Realtor’s Confidence Index Survey Report. Several experts are saying that number is expected to rise, and these types of buyers have an edge in the real estate market since all-cash is secure financing. This makes their offers incredibly appealing to many home sellers.

One way to sway a home sellers mind is to write them a personal letter about you and your family. This simple notion could land you in your perfect home, especially when it means choosing you over a buyer who might tear down the home and turn it into a new development. Another way is to ask the seller what their goals are and try to match them to make your offer more appealing by being more flexible.

Don’t Believe Everything You Read Online

Searching through pages and maps of potential houses online is the way of the future. While there is a definite perk to being able to shop for homes on your laptop or phone, you shouldn’t believe everything you see. The same way you are skeptical of those online pleas to raise money for cute puppies, you should also be suspicious of real estate “deals.” If you find a home for sale whose offer seems too urgent, it could be a scam. For example, descriptions that say,Available at this price for today only.” should be avoided. Also, if a listing asks for personal info, such as a social security number or if the home seller or agent is out of the country or unavailable, you should run in the other direction.

Home Staging

More and more sellers have started incorporating home staging to some degree in their homes in order to get top dollar. Nearly a third of buyers are more willing to overlook property faults in a staged home. By staging a home, you can visualize yourself actually living there. However, don’t let that deter you from checking out the basics. Don’t be shy about lifting, moving, and testing whatever you need to in order to know if the house is in good shape.