Buying a house is always a challenging process for most people. But 2018 may ramp up those challenges in several areas due to both a tight real estate market and many financial changes. To help you navigate the complexities of this particular market, here are 4 things to know before you shop. 

Check Your Tax Situation. There are a variety of tax changes set to start in 2018, from personal deductions to business expenses. So you may want to talk to your accountant or tax preparer to get a handle on how your existing tax situation is likely to change. You may find that your financial situation is improved in 2018, or it could be the other way around. In addition, there are changes to how you can deduct home expenses, so be sure you understand those as well. 

Learn About Ancillary Expenses. More than ever before, the often-overlooked additional costs of home ownership could make or break your decisions. Since most homeowners will be limited in how much property tax they can deduct, you may want to avoid higher tax locations. And with many choices about utilities in today's homes — such as geothermal energy, solar power, and energy-saving products — these expenses may cost a lot less than you expect.

Be Ready. Real estate markets in 2018 are often very hot, so buyers must be ready to pounce when they find the right place. To ensure you are ready to go, get proper mortgage approval before shopping. Have plenty of cash on hand for down payments and earnest money. And know what amenities and layout you're looking for so you can spot it quickly and move fast with an aggressive offer.

Think Outside the Box. With a low inventory of certain types of housing, such as starter homes or ranch style houses — you probably need to consider homes that you may not have otherwise planned on. This could mean opting for a fixer upper that requires some work. Or it could include looking at multi-family housing, condos, or different architectural styles. In addition, being flexible about searching outside your desired radius could free up a lot more inventory for you.

By understanding and working with the unique features of 2018's home buying environment, you can still find a great house at a price you can afford. Follow these few steps to be ready to go when you do find that house.