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9 tips for homebuyers and sellers in 2009

7. Know all of your options.  If you are among the thousands of homeowners who have lost significant value in their homes, are upside down on your note and can't refinance, know what your next step may be.

And, if you can't get your mortgage agreement modified, negotiate an alternative payment arrangement or find a buyer to simply assume your payments, then you should be aware of the more drastic alternative open to you.

For more information, read Bankrate articles on short sales, intentional foreclosures, pre-foreclosure sales and deeds in lieu of foreclosure -- all extreme options for getting rid of your home and large mortgage payment.

8. Become a landlord.  This approach is best for people who aren't too far behind on their payments. Yes, those newly reset adjustable-rate monthly payments are often higher than the rents you can fetch. But the rental market has made a comeback with so many foreclosure victims out on the streets.

Give first priority to possible lease-option or lease-purchase tenants. In a lease-option, a renter pays more that the established monthly rent for the right -- but not the obligation -- to buy the property later. A lease-purchase pact is similar, but it obligates the renter to buy.

Unless you are able to carefully screen renters and doggedly look after your property in any of these scenarios, don't become a landlord.

9. Hold fast: Don't "panic sell."  Unless you owe more than what your home is worth or face a job change, relocation or a divorce, health crisis or other major negative life event, then wait until next year or the year after even, if at all possible. Current conditions are not permanent.


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Claes Bell

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