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Real Estate Guide 2007
Take action: do's & dont's
With the real estate market in transition the game has changed. We examine ways to adjust.
Take action: do's and don'ts
20 steps to get the best deal on a home
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4. Make a list, check it twice. Another way to narrow your search in a market with many choices is to really zero in on the individual features of your future home. Which items do you really need? Which do you merely want? Which don't matter? And what would be a deal-breaker? "You've got to make sure that what you're looking for is really what you want," says Patricia Fitzgerald, broker/owner of Coastal Properties in Jupiter, Fla. If you're buying the home with a spouse, make up your own separate lists first, then try to integrate them. That way, you approach sellers and agents as a united front -- and you're more likely to get what you want. 

5. Do your homework. If there are communities you like, do the in-depth research now. Buyers, especially in a market with a lot of choices, "get caught up in finding the 'perfect house,' and don't do their research," says Tyson. Instead, "you want to be able to take advantage of the fact that we've got a lot of choices."

  • Study the quality and cost of living. If you're semi-local, shop in the community for a week or so. Buy groceries, gas and all the little necessities in the same places you'd patronize if you already lived there. Sample the way of life by checking out things you use, like libraries, health clubs, bookstores, restaurants and movie theaters.
  • Test the commute. It's one thing to drive an area on Sunday morning and look at homes. It's another to roll out of the driveway at 7 a.m. Monday morning and fight commuter traffic. So drive it during rush hour. And if you want to use public transportation, check out those options, too.
  • Scope out the schools. If you have kids, or are planning a family, research the neighborhood schools. What do they look like, and what kind of reputation and scores do they enjoy?
  • Read the newspaper. Almost every community has a local paper. Subscribe -- via mail or online, and keep up with the local happenings. From water quality to zoning, you're likely to get the inside information you really don't get anywhere else.
-- Posted: March 8, 2007
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