It’s tough out there for would-be homeowners.

They’re facing rising mortgage rates, higher home prices and a shortage of available houses in many markets. Plus, recent changes to the tax law do them no favors.

So what can a potential homebuyer do?

• Get perspective. Rates have been rising since late last year. The average rate on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage hit a high of 4.45 percent last month. That’s its highest since 2014, but still well below where it’s been historically.

“The fours are not a terrible place to be,” said Skylar Olsen, director of economic research at Zillow.

Your credit will largely determine the rate you get, so keep that clean. Lock in your rate when you are ready. Rates vary day to day and timing it well is more luck than skill, Olsen said.

• Hunt hard. The median home price right now is up 7.6 percent from last year and up 15 percent compared to the year before that, according to Zillow. And compared to three years ago? Up nearly 22 percent.

These price increases, more than higher rates, make the costs prohibitive for some buyers.

And inventory is tight because homes are selling so quickly.

• Be prepared. It’s even more important in a challenging real estate market to make sure you have the basics covered: check your credit, know what you can afford and come to the hunt preapproved for a mortgage.

Homes in many markets are receiving multiple offers, so be ready to compete. Consider ways to sweeten your deal: a bigger down payment, more earnest money or a shorter closing time may give you an edge.

• Seek out help. If you’re a novice, consider attending a first-time homebuyer class or meeting with a HUD housing counselor, who can provide free or low-cost advice. They can walk you through the process and help you assess what you can afford.

They can also alert potential homebuyers to assistance programs in their area; There are a variety of programs that help people with down payments, closing costs or other services.

Finally, a good real estate agent can help buyers craft a deal and assist with their knowledge of the market.