LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — The climate for home buyers is tougher than ever, with many experts wondering if we’re on the brink of a housing bubble.

Courtney Northrop finally accomplished a goal many millennials her age dream about: Owning a home.

“We sort of started seriously looking about a year and a half ago- more casually at the beginning of the pandemic,” said Northrop. “However, you know, the game is a game. The sheer amount of people that are interested in one property where you feel sort of hopeless.”

After a lot of searching, the 31-year-old and her partner eventually secured a home in California.

The pair was able to figure out a few tricks during their search to help seal the deal.

“Be willing to be nimble, be willing to give up things, you know, be willing to adjust and expand your horizon,” continued Northrop. “And, you know, don’t be so clouded by location. If you kind of are willing to go outside of your box a little bit, you’ll find that you can definitely find deals.”

Courtney’s setbacks are ones echoed by many in today’s home buying market, where competition is fierce.

“There’s a lot of demand in the housing market right now, when you have a lot of demand, and you don’t have a lot of supply, the way the market balances that is by pushing prices higher,” said Danielle Hale, the chief economist for Realtor.com.

As the weather warms up, so will the price of homes.

Another factor hindering first-time homebuyers?

Outside investors.

“There are more investors involved in the housing market today than there were a decade ago or two decades ago,” said Hale. “They’re involved both in buying and in selling. So that means they’re competing with other home buyers to buy up homes that are on the market.”

You can find the hottest areas in the housing market today in the Sun Belt, which are in part due to mass relocations that took place during the pandemic.

“House prices in those areas are still relatively attractive and affordable compared to other regions, even though they’re seeing phenomenal price growth,” said Hale.

And some expert advice to lock in that dream home?

“So learning as much as you can about what your seller is looking for is an important strategy as a buyer, it may be that they’re looking for someone who can bring a lot of cash and close quickly,” remarked Hale. “Understanding what your seller is looking for, and then trying to meet that need is one important way to stand out.”