Tips For Home Buyers

* It's more important than ever to buy a home that will appreciate in value. While homes generally offer safe, long-term investment, prices dropped dramatically in recent years and, in some parts of the country, are only just starting to recover.

* Consider using a buyer's agent. It's become increasingly common for sellers to pay their fees.

* Interview at least three agents, and work with one who sells real estate full time and has experience in your local market.

* If possible, try to buy when interest rates are low. Rates have greater impact on total cost - over the life of the loan - than purchase price.

* Get a home inspection. Interview three home inspectors. Consider hiring one who isn't also a contractor and doesn't offer to fix problems he finds.

* Get prequalified or preapproved for a mortgage before you start shopping. It gives you a stronger negotiating position.

* Find out as much as possible about the seller's circumstances. You may strike a deal for seller financing that could be mutually beneficial.

* Learn how to negotiate; it could save you a bundle. Pick up a book or ask a realtor for tips.

Source: American Homeowners Foundation

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