Summer is the priciest time to buy a home, but cost isn’t the only challenge in 2020. An uncertain economy and social distancing measures, both the result of the pandemic, have upended homebuying plans for some and changed the process for everyone.

Despite the initial shock of COVID-19, related economic fallout and general uncertainty, demand for homes is surging again. And home prices are climbing. Together, these factors necessitate some skillful navigation by buyers. Here are some tips to help you do just that.

Know your market. Home prices jump 9%, on average, from January to June, and much higher in some areas of the country, according to a new NerdWallet analysis. While the most expensive time to buy is most often June or July, inventory is generally higher then too.

Housing market behavior is highly localized, so get to know the one where you are hoping to buy. A local real estate agent can help you understand how prices and demand fluctuate where you’re shopping, as well as better prepare you for competition among other buyers, price negotiation with sellers and the supply of homes.

Get preapproved. Going into the process with a lender’s preapproval could make your offer stand out above the rest. Preapproval also gives you the opportunity to compare lender offers. Shopping mortgage rates can save you thousands of dollars in interest over the life of your loan.

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