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Buying -- Whether you're thinking of buying a house for the first time, moving on up or downsizing, there's plenty to think about before you throw yourself out on the open market. Is this the best time? New house or resale? Single-family or apartment? Use an agent or go it alone? What's hot? What's not? What to look for and what to look out for? We've sought advice from a legion of experts who share with you their best tips and warning signs.


Advice for everyone
When's the best time to buy? To sell? -- There's a distinct home buying season. Whether you're a buyer or a seller, knowing what the season is can help you plot your strategy.

A timeline for buying a new home -- You have got plenty to do. We'll help you keep track of what and when you need to do it.

10 questions sellers hope you don't ask -- Sellers often operate on a don't ask, don't tell system. Here are some common house queries they aren't going to volunteer to discuss.

What's hot in housing -- And, just as importantly, what is definitely not so hot.

Should you remodel or move? -- You can fix it up or you can buy a new house. Some things to think about before you decide.

Tax breaks for homeowners -- There are lots of tax reasons to own a home. Here's how to make the most of them and avoid the pitfalls.

Tips for first-time buyers
Quiz: Buy or rent? -- Sure, buying a house has advantages, but it's not for everyone. Take our quiz to see whether homeownership is for you.

Special deals for first-time home buyers -- Before you arrange financing for a new home, check with your state's housing agency. You could save a bundle.
Plus: State-by-state housing finance agencies

Charities exploit down-payment loophole -- Nonprofit groups help home buyers obtain down payments with taxpayer backing.

Top five home-buying mistakes -- Buyer beware! Watch out for these common mistakes that can cost home buyers money and peace of mind.

Specialized advice
Home buying for unmarried couples -- Real estate transactions can be more binding than a marriage contract. Learn the legalities of home buying and unwed love.

Buying a home without a down payment -- A variety of programs make it possible to move in without cash up front.

Women become a force in home buying -- Women are finding their places in homes, all right, and in record numbers.

Buying a house online -- It can save you time, money and lots of shoe leather.

Buying a house long distance -- Some steps to make it easier to find a new home in an unfamiliar community.

Your housing choices
Buying a new house vs. buying used -- Each approach has both pros and cons.

Lease-options offer an alternative -- Lease-now, buy-later plan has advantages for both buyers and sellers.

Inside scoop on condos and co-ops -- Got your eye on a sharp apartment? The form of ownership can make a big difference in your life when choosing between condos and co-ops.
Plus: 3 critical questions to ask before buying a condo or co-op

Buying historic property takes patience, cash -- You had better inspect before you purchase or restore, say the experts.

Beware lurking homeowner associations and covenants, conditions and restrictions -- If the neighborhood looks too good to be true, it just may be. Learn what rules, regulations and restrictions will effect your life before you sign on the dotted line.
Plus: 7 steps to survive the HOA challenge
And: Homeowner association horror stories

Understanding real estate agents
Should a buyer do without an agent? -- It could lower the price, but it's a path with pitfalls.

Picking an agent? Get smart! -- Don't be so eager to shop for the house that you forget to carefully compare agents.

Is 'your' agent really working for you? -- Relationships between agents, clients, and customers can be confusing and misleading. Here's help figuring out what's what and who's who.

Do your homework before buying
Home inspection: The hidden horrors -- A general inspection may not be enough to catch problems with fences, pools, or chimneys. For those you may need a specialist.
Plus: What an inspector will and won't check
And: Can your trust your home inspector?

Inspect your neighborhood, not just your house -- Before you buy, make sure that lot across the street isn't slated to become a landfill. Here's how to check on your prospective community before you move in.


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