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Top 10 Tips for Buyers as the Housing Market Recovers

Like Florida, when it came to Boston's real estate market, some people thought it would never come back. But guess what? It's time to trim those trees and rent that staging furniture: The Boston real estate market is ba-ack from the dead!

For those on the buying end, here are 10 house-buying tips to consider while on the prowl for your new palace:

  1. Think big -- and broad. With an improving market, you might face higher prices. This could dash your dreams of owning the life-size Barbie Princess Palace. You just have to keep an open mind. Consider a fixer-upper, a home with a rental, or a jointly owned home.

  2. Plan financially. Build up your cash for a down payment plus other expenses that come with owning a home. Also check your credit report for accuracy.

  3. Research the market. Researching neighborhoods should be a priority, and it's important to make sure you know what the crime rates are in the neighborhood and what schools are nearby if you plan on starting a family.

  4. Get a pre-approval letter. After shopping around for a financial institution, get pre-approved for a home mortgage.

  5. Get an independent inspection. Ask for an independent inspection of your dream home. Sure, the exterior and interior may look clean and freshly painted, but it won't be so pretty when the house collapses from hidden mold and rotten wood. Structural defects and pests can be hidden flaws that can end up costing buyers.

  6. Think numbers. Spend some time thinking about what you should offer when you're sure you want to purchase a home. Figuring out how much you can afford and taking into account the seller's position (for example, do they have multiple offers already?) can help you get into a better bargaining position.

  7. Learn the lingo. Before you take the plunge into a purchase, you should understand the common words and terms usually used in a real estate transaction. Once that becomes too daunting...

  8. Hire a lawyer. Massachusetts requires a real estate attorney to be part of the process, especially at closing. If you're buying property in an area where a real estate attorney isn't required, you should consider seeking legal assistance for more complex matters.

  9. Find a buyer -- for your place! That will give you a better idea of your financial situation and your ability to move at all.

  10. Go with your gut. A house purchase is a big step. After all the research, if you get cold feet, it's OK! Don't force yourself to go through with it if your gut -- or checklist -- tells you otherwise.

Happy house hunting, Bostonians!

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