LONDON, ONT. -- According to the London and St. Thomas Association of Realtors (LSTAR), the local housing market has once again shattered new records. And due to the hot market, a new trend has emerged that professionals are advising against.

"I see our prices continuing to start to catch up, because London is a fantastic community," says LSTAR 2021 President Jack Lane.

LSTAR says the region saw the highest number of home sales for the month of January since 1978, when it first began tracking data.

LSTAR reported 547 homes changed hands last month, with the average home price in London coming in at just over $600,000.

Lane says there are a number of factors that continue to contribute to the aggressive real estate market, including record low mortgage rates and the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced many people to work from home.

"We've certainly seen a bit of a change in trends, in terms of what people are looking for in a home," says Lane. "Where kitchens and bathrooms may have been the hot ticket item, now it's work space, play space, school space (that) have become important factors."

A home financing advisor at LIBRO Credit Union, Jenifer Kelly says many, if not all, home buyers are faced with putting in a firm offer.

"Honestly at this point, having an offer come in with conditions is the abnormal, I don't see it."

Kelly says despite being pre-approved for a mortgage, she says buyers should think twice before putting in a firm offer.

"Without a home financing condition, you are just not protected, you are at risk to buying a house that's not worth what you are paying for, to buying a house that's uninsurable, and therefor you just can't get a mortgage period, so there's just so many risks."

Gord Banting, a real estate lawyer with Jeffery Associates LLP agrees.

"People are exposing themselves to risks, and that includes buying a house with some mechanical or some other problems that they are unaware of and get a nasty surprise after closing. The recklessness comes from the competitive nature of the marketplace and in order to obtain a place as a home, it's pretty difficult to submit an offer with conditions, these days."

Banting says make sure to bring someone with you when you go to see the property, someone who's experienced and knowledgeable in the home buying process. This will give you some insights on any problems that might exist with the home.