When you come across the perfect bargain, you will have little time to decide before the vulture buyers show up. Be ready to act quickly while other potential buyers take their time to think about whether they want to make an offer.
"The early bird catches the worm," Thompson says. "If you take weeks to think about it, you are going to get into a multiple-offer situation."
To make a quick and sound decision, you need to already know the area and be qualified for a mortgage before the opportunity comes.
"Drive through a neighborhood that you like, even if there wasn't a house there that you wanted," he says. "So once a house you like hits the market, you can write your offer right away. If you are the first person to make the offer, sometimes you'll get that little window of opportunity" before other bidders put in their offers and inflate the price.