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Hunting For A Bargain?

Sometimes The Best Home Deals Aren't Obvious

Everybody loves a bargain-getting something they want for less than market value. But finding a bargain home isn't always easy, unless you know where to look. Start your search with the following tips:

Don't just look at the listing price-focus on the entire deal. A home priced comparable to other similar homes may become a much better deal if the sellers are willing to cover some or all settlement costs, offer financing, provide a redecorating allowance, leave the drapes, etc. You can negotiate your way into a bargain.

Get the jump on other house hunters by working with a buyer's agent who is well-connected in the local market. Agents with a strong network of contacts (as we have) often find out about properties coming to market before they're listed. In new housing developments, builders sometimes offer discounts to first buyers, just to get sales rolling. Also, builders may discount prices as they get ready to close out a development and move on to another project. So as not to influence the price of other homes in the development, the builder may offer discounts in the form of free upgrades (appliances, carpeting, built-ins, etc.) instead.

Look for homes that need refurbishing. Check out homes priced below market that are structurally sound and in good neighborhoods, but in need of cosmetic improvements, updated appliances and fixtures, etc. Be sure to have these homes inspected by a professional and, if you're not handy yourself, get estimates from contractors for needed improvements.

Shop when others don't. Different areas have different peak selling seasons, summer often being the most active. During the off-season, however, sellers may be more flexible with price and terms, and you're likely to have less competition from other buyers. Consider, too, shopping during patches of bad weather and over the holidays.

Repossessed homes can be a good deal. Lenders who repossess homes prefer to get their money back out of those homes as quickly as possible. (Their business is lending, not real estate.) Those homes could become bargains for you.