MINNEAPOLIS - For months, John Wagner and his wife looked for their first home to buy. And like so many like them, they were not having success.

They put in seven offers on houses before their eighth was accepted on their current home.

"You tend to think you are the only person out there looking, but with short supply and plenty of buyers it was tough,” he said.

The bottom line: There aren’t enough homes for the demand.

Kath Hammerseng is the president-elect of the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors. She told KARE 11 that if realtors stopped listing homes in a balanced market, there would be enough inventory for five or six months. In the overall market today, she said there’s enough for two months.

“And for a $250,000 home or lower, there’s only a one-month supply,” she said of the Twin Cities.

So how do you separate yourself from the pack if you’re buying a house, especially if this is your first time?

Besides getting an agent, she listed these tips:

1. Be available. If you’re serious about buying a house, you’ve got to be willing to look at it even if that means canceling plans.

2. Be ready to move quickly. Do this by getting a pre-approval letter from your lender and know how much you are willing to spend before you shop for houses.

3. If there are similar offers, a personal letter to the seller can sometimes help.

Wagner’s real estate agent, Blake Hanson, agrees.

"Sometimes when offers are almost identical, a letter can sometimes do wonders, giving the seller the peace of mind,” he said.

He recommends writing to the seller why you love their house and how you plan to continue what they started.

“There’s a lot of benefit to that,” added Hammerseng.

That's what Wagner did and he said the sellers told him it worked.

“We typed up a little thing that was just about me and my wife and how it was such a nice place,” he recalled.

“And how you could tell it was taken care of by people who lived there and were happy there and we wanted to do the same,” she said.

Wagner also recommends buyers do their best to be patient.

“So you get into this mode where if we get this one, great. If not, we'll find another one,” he said.

What about sellers? Despite it being your market, Hammerseng believes there are things you can do to help your chances of a quick sale, besides hiring an agent.

1. Make sure your house is ready to sell. She said buyers don’t want to see a lot of projects to have to tackle when looking at your house.

2. Price it right. That’s something your agent can help with, she said.

3. Be ready to leave your house at a moment’s notice when buyers want to look at your house.

As for Wagner, he’s just happy it’s over with.

"Really excited, and someday we'll be unpacked and have friends over and be even more exciting,” he said with a smile.