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4 tips for buying a house in a buyer's market
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"Look to the long term, because you don't know how long you'll be there," Razzi says. "You might have to ride out bad market conditions for a while." True to her book's title, Razzi says you shouldn't let fear dictate your timing.

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"You should not wait if you find the right property, because, for one thing, you're not looking solely for the best price. You're looking for the best home."

And keep in mind that mortgage rates have fallen about three-quarters of a percentage point in the last three months. "Right now is a perfect time to buy, because of a real sudden increase in buying power," says Bill Christiano, loan officer with MortgageIT's office in suburban Westchester, N.Y.

Put technology and a buyer's agent to good use
Cool technological innovations are popping up on real estate Web sites practically every week. Among the most useful are valuation tools. Zillow has the best known of these called the "Zestimate," which is a computer-generated estimate of a house's market value. Bankrate.com is a content partner with Zillow.com.

The Homekeys site allows users to find estimated market values and to search for listings with aggressively competitive asking prices. Homekeys operates only in Florida, whereas Zillow has nationwide coverage.

It's hard to stress how revolutionary these valuation tools are, Villena says: "Until recently, this was impossible. You didn't have, as a consumer, tools that could reasonably provide home values to you without spending something like $300 for each property to appraise it."

Now those estimates are free, and you can get them without changing out of your pajamas.

Next: "You need to be early to that party."
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