Looking for a home might be a challenge for potential buyers this spring, especially first-timers looking for entry level-homes. Nationally, home prices in March were up 7% year-over-year according to CoreLogic, and Zillow says that there are 6% fewer homes on the market than last year, with 10% fewer entry-level homes.

Lee Ritchie, a real estate agent with Re/Max Metro Plus in Columbus, Ohio, said she spent a lot of time explaining to buyers that they should make their best offer right away, and move quickly if they see a home they like. “Sometimes,” she said in an email, “a buyer has to lose a home or two before they really comprehend how aggressive they need to be in order to win.”

With a shortage of homes on the market pushing up prices, New York Times staffer Ann Carrns presents some tips and tricks for house hunting in a seller's market.

Her suggestions include getting pre-approved for a mortgage, and putting down a larger deposit to make an offer more attractive. On the plus side, mortgage rates are remaining low, so buyers may have an advantage if buying a home now.

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