It isn't news that home prices have been headed upward for awhile now. And, according to the latest S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, they are continuing to climb at around the same pace as they have been in recent months. Which is to say, the price increases haven't yet slowed. Of course, how quickly prices are increasing depends on where you're looking to buy. Large metropolitan areas – and especially those in the West – are seeing the sharpest increases, while the price gains are more muted in the Midwest. But, no matter where you are, the best way to prepare for higher prices is to know what you want, what you can afford, and where your limits are. In competitive and higher priced markets, having a firm idea of what you can spend and where you'll compromise will make it less likely that you'll end up going over budget because of a bidding war or buying more house than you can comfortably afford. Making sure you're prepared before heading out to look at homes also means securing financing in advance, so you'll be ready to make an offer when you find a home you love.More here.