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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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14. Have a backup plan. Don't set your mind on one house and say it's that or nothing. "It helps you remain more objective," says Phipps. And you won't get carried away and pay more for a house than the house is really worth. And if you are seriously considering other homes -- and could be just as happy with other choices, have your agent convey that point, says Phipps. Doing the negotiating yourself? Be respectful and honest. Alert the seller to that fact without threatening them with it. Something along the lines of "we're looking at two other houses, we know the numbers there are workable and we can get either at a good price." But don't say it if it isn't true.

15. Put all extras in your first offer. Negotiations are more elastic in the beginning, when the buyer and seller are most likely to want to reach an agreement, says Phipps. It's a lot easier to include that entire list of concessions or repairs in the beginning than to drop it in at the very end. And that list should include a warranty deed and title insurance, he says.

16. Don't let them play mind games. "If you make a good offer, within the realm of reasonable, and the seller rejects it outright, move on," says Phipps. Some sellers don't really want to sell. Others like to play games. And that just slows your search for a home. "In this market, it makes sense to take advantage of the breadth of inventory and deal with a seller who wants to sell," he says.

17. Surrender where you can. You're going to be dealing with the seller throughout the process, so on points where it really doesn't matter, giving ground can be smart, says Phipps.

18. Call your insurance agent. How will the neighborhoods you're shopping affect your home and auto premiums? Your agent will be happy to tell you. And it's even more important since some areas are seeing large increases in premiums in the wake of natural disasters. "It's free knowledge," says Summers. And like the price of groceries in your new community, "it all goes into the cost of living and you never think of it until you move there."

19. Call the power company. Look at your current power bill to see just how much juice you're using each month. Now call the would-be supplier in the neighborhood you're considering. How much would it charge for the same power? "It may require a little math," says Summers. But it can save you from sticker shock after the move.

20. Educate yourself. "Education is more valuable now," says Tyson. "People have trepidation and fear because they realize that real estate doesn't go up every year." But with low rates and decent prices on housing, he says, "it's a good opportunity to get into the market."

Dana Dratch is a freelance writer based in Atlanta.  

-- Posted: March 8, 2007
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