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move-up_buyers_agent(MCT)—Move-up buyers are catching a break.

They’re facing a less frantic housing market than earlier this year. Prices are cooling. More homes are up for sale, so competition is easing. Those shopping for their next property actually can get picky.

Economists say homes are expected to continue appreciating, though at a slower pace, and mortgage rates likely will tick up next year. But there’s uncertainty on the horizon. New lending rules could make it tougher for some who have accrued significant debt to get a loan in 2014.

Many interested trade-up shoppers chose to watch the recent frenzied market from the sidelines. It may be time to update your house-hunting strategy.

The Orange County Register asked agents, mortgage brokers and home builders to offer advice to those looking to move up sooner than later.

Here’s what they said.

1. Homebuyers have juice again; use it.
The housing mix still favors sellers, though it’s not as lopsided as during the first part of the year. “Homes are not flying off the market,” said Steve Thomas of ReportsOnHousing. He noted that the dramatic, month-to-month run-up in prices has stopped. And autumn sales usually are slower than in the spring or summer.

Buyers can make a deal dependent on their own home sale now, agents say, or they can request a credit on a home inspection without having to worry the seller will simply move on to the next offer. And home seekers now have more options and can focus on more choice properties.

“As we transition from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market, buyers must be thinking resale, (so) you want to pick the home with the least flaws,” said Jeff Stokes, a broker associate in Newport Beach, Calif.

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