The housing market in Chicago can shift quickly. When there’s little for sale, it’s tough being a buyer. Even when the overall market is balanced, the market for certain homes (luxury homes, for example) can still be tight. Here are some ways to make sure you buy the right home.

Have your financial work prepared in advance. When the inventory of homes is low, others are looking at the same properties you’re looking at. Be prepared to make a strong offer when the right home comes on the market. Apply for a loan and get pre-approved for a mortgage. Have your down payment ready. When you have pre-approval from your lender, it gives you a big edge.

Determine your priorities. Looking at different properties can help. Don’t expect to find everything you want in one property. You’ll probably have to make minor concessions. If you don’t find your ideal home after thirty days, review your priorities. If you passed on a house that needed paint or carpeting, reconsider it. Buyers willing to make minor improvements increase their chances in a tight market. Research expired listings. An expired listing is a property that did not sell during the listing period. Sometimes those owners still want to sell, and they intend to go back on the market.

When you find a home you want, bid quickly and competitively. If you wait, it may be gone. Don’t try to go to low and get a deal; in a tight market, you’ll lose out. When you find the right home, sign an offer and have it presented immediately. Make your offer with as few contingencies as possible. If you own another home and need to sell it, list it now. Look in advance at a sample copy of the purchase agreement. To protect your interests, have the purchase agreement and other pertinent documents reviewed by an experienced Chicago real estate attorney.

If you’re buying a property in the Chicago area, you need a good real estate agent, but you also need a good Chicago real estate attorney who will safeguard your interests. Real estate is a wise investment. When you hire a good real estate lawyer, you make another wise investment. If you’re involved in a transaction or considering a real estate purchase in or near Chicago, make the call promptly.