Home Buying 14This is the time of year that has home buyers and home sellers alike excited: The Spring Home Buying Season!

For buyers, it's a great time to purchase a home because the school year is coming to an end and residents have all summer to move before it's back in session. For sellers, it's a great chance to reach a lot of home buyers as they navigate the market searching for their dream home.

In preparation for the spring home buying season, we wanted to share with you some tips on how you can shop smart as a home buyer. Enjoy!

4 Home Buying Tips for the Spring Market

Don't just rely on the Internet for your home searches. While you can certainly find a treasure trove of information on the Internet, it's not the only way to find your dream home. In addition to searching real estate websites, you might consider also getting out and canvassing homes for sale the old fashioned way. After all, Internet pictures and listing information only tell part of the story. For full context, you need to view the home in person. And don't hesitate, either! This year's spring home buying market is expected to be particularly competitive and so you want to make sure you get to that home before other buyers do.

Learn about current market values in trend. Obviously, every market is going to be slightly different and so it behooves you to lean about your local housing markets specific trends. Let's consider the recent Case-Shiller 2014 home price index, which shows you how much of a difference there can be among major markets. In that report, San Francisco saw the largest annual regional gain at 9.3 percent. Meanwhile, other major markets like New York, Chicago and Washington DC saw less than 2 percent. A qualified and experienced agent can talk with you about current trends and how they impact you.

Lock in low mortgage rates now. Those near-historic lows won't be around forever. Thus, make sure you get a good mortgage rate now. By doing so, you ensure that your monthly mortgage will be reasonable for you. And in some cases, you may qualify for a larger or more expensive home thanks to low mortgage rates. Here's another reason to get a mortgage now: In January, the Federal Housing Authority (which backs loans for borrowers who make low down payments), lowered the annual insurance premium it requires from 1.35 percent of a home loan to just 0.85 percent. All told, the Housing Department estimates that will save FHA homeowners roughly $900 a year.

Keep "Sweeten-the-Deals" Strategies in Your Back Pocket. As previously mentioned, this is going to be a competitive spring home buying season. In other words, you may face a bidding war. So to prepare, consider ways that you can sway the seller in your favor. This might include an escalation card, which is the amount that you'd automatically be willing to pay above a competing bid. You might also consider foregoing certain contingency clauses. Contingencies are stipulations that allow buyers to get out of contracts. These include appraisals, home inspections and financing contingencies. By removing such contingencies, you're likely to impress the home seller enough to want to accept your offer.

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We hope you found the above information helpful as a prospective home buyer. Please make sure to check back here soon for even more tips that will help you as you navigate the market!

Have a great day!