Learn about current market conditions and how to navigate homebuying in the new year.

The current housing market continues to face adversity, but some real estate experts see promise in the year ahead.

As RE/MAX President and CEO Nick Bailey recently shared with Bloomberg, more competitive interest rates could be on the horizon. Though current rates remain high, some 30-year conventional loans have dipped slightly below 7% in recent weeks.

“That’s going to mean good things for buyers – and better affordability,” he says.

For those embarking on their homebuying journey in 2024, here’s where to get started.

1. Get pre-approved for a mortgage

For those purchasing a home with financing, it’s important to meet with a mortgage lender as early on in the process as possible.

After evaluating factors like credit score and income, the lender will determine what type of mortgage you qualify for. While many are familiar with the 30-year conventional loan, there are other options that may be up for consideration, like adjustable rate mortgages (ARM), VA loans, FHA loans, among others.

What’s especially helpful is getting pre-approved for a mortgage – this is how you determine your budget and establish a price range to shop in.

2. Find a real estate agent

A trustworthy real estate professional is the go-to expert on all facets of the homebuying process, from finding potential properties to coordinating inspections to negotiating on your behalf to recommending their preferred local service providers after you’ve moved in (and so much more!).

They’re also oftentimes one step ahead when it comes to navigating specifications of the local market.

“While the results [of the monthly RE/MAX National Housing Report] tell an overall story, the key for homebuyers and sellers is to work with a local real estate agent who can speak to the unique local conditions,” Bailey says.

3. Differentiate wants from needs

Identifying wants and needs ahead of touring homes can help ensure you stay on track and consider options that best fit your crucial criteria. If you’re buying a property with a spouse, partner, family member or friend, make sure all stakeholders are in alignment on what elements are deemed essential.

The best way to do this is to make a “wants vs. needs” list and prioritize features you can’t live without. To start getting ideas, consider the good things and gripes about your current living situation.

4. Start browsing for homes

Ready to get ideas – or find favorite homes to tour with your real estate agent? Head over to remax.com and check out what’s for sale in your area.

Article originally appeared on RE/MAX.com.