This article was provided by Bob Turner, Tennessee Area Lending Manager, Bank of America Nashville.

If you’re hoping to buy a home this summer, you’re in good company. Homebuyers in Nashville face the most competitive U.S. housing market in decades: low mortgage rates and strong demand can translate into competitive bids from buyers. The past year has fueled a stronger desire for homeownership, and Bank of America’s latest Homebuyer Insights Report found prospective buyers are eager to swap unpredictable monthly rents with steady monthly mortgage payments. In fact, nearly half (46%) of respondents say that building equity is more important now than ever before.

In Middle Tennessee, we also face limited inventory of available properties. Some estimates show our market is seeing a 60 percent decrease in available properties over last year. And while some parts of the country are seeing residents moving out of large cities, in Nashville, our urban living is still growing and considered very desirable. Though many families are choosing to move to larger lots in the suburbs with Franklin, Mt. Juliet, Brentwood, and Bellevue continuing to be some of the hottest home-owning destinations.

Beyond the financial benefits of homeownership, people are also reassessing how their living space and surroundings fit into their lives as we spend more time at home. Human connection, a sense of community, and good neighbors are just some of the key priorities for today’s homebuyer. Younger generations are looking for a multifunctional space as the home has become an office (45%), a school (31%), a movie theater (28%) and a gym (27%).

As properties continue to sell quickly in Nashville, here are some tips:

Get started as early as possible

You’ll want to be well informed about the homebuying process so you can act quickly and with confidence once you’re ready to buy. Brush up on your knowledge with the First-Time Homebuyer Online Edu-Series™, which provides an easy-to-understand roadmap to buying a home and allows you to go at your own pace as experts provide guidance and tips to prepare your finances, make an offer, apply for a mortgage and more.

Get your financing in place

In a competitive market, having a preapproval shows that you’re serious about becoming a homeowner, as you’re taking the necessary steps to get your finances and creditworthiness verified by a lender. Interactive digital tools allow you to secure preapproval online or via a mobile banking app, so you can begin the home search with a competitive edge. At Bank of America, digital preapproval applicants can even have down payment and closing costs grants eligibility determined automatically, so you know how much assistance you’ll receive from the get-go.

You will be even more competitive with a fully underwritten preapproval. That’s where you take the pre-approval one step further by having the lender vet your finances and agree to give you a mortgage up to a specified price.

Avoid contingencies and move quickly

With sellers typically having more than one offer on the table and coming in with all-cash offers, you don’t want them to rule you out because you place a contingency on the offer or conditions the seller must meet before the sale can go through.

You can also stay competitive by moving quickly with your offer. Homes are only staying on the market for days or weeks in some cases, with an average of around 32 days. You will also want to close in less than 30 days to increase your chances and stay competitive.

Take advantage of digital tools

Timing can be everything in the current environment. Luckily, online resources can guide you through the mortgage process from start to finish and prevent any delays in the process, whether its checking the status of your loan or submitting required documentation electronically. They’ll even provide you with a to-do list of outstanding tasks and current status and details of a loan application.

Know exactly what you’re looking for

Check out homes in your desired location beforehand, so you can narrow down the price range and home type that’s right for you. The Bank of America Real Estate Center® can help you identify properties for sale in various neighborhoods that fall within your budget and/or qualify for Bank of America’s grant programs.

Consider a starter home

If you’re eager to take advantage of low rates and feel confident in your financial position, you may consider a starter home – often a condominium or townhome. While it may not have all the amenities of a dream home or the perfect location, a starter home that you can comfortably remain in for a few years is typically less expensive. More importantly, a starter home can give you the chance to start building equity and establish fixed monthly mortgage payments, protecting you from rising rental rates.

Even as the meaning of home has evolved over the past year, homeownership continues to mean the power to build personal wealth and a legacy for your family. While buying a home today may require a bit more patience and persistence, taking the time to prepare for what’s ahead will put you on the way to your homebuying journey!