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Sunday, April 2, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Real estate how-to

Proper planning makes purchasing much easier

One of the keys to making the home-buying process easier and more understandable is planning. In doing so, you'll be able to anticipate requests from lenders, lawyers and a host of other professionals. Furthermore, planning will help you discover valuable shortcuts in the home-buying process.

So how do you decide what you want?

Whether you are a first-time homebuyer or entering the marketplace as a repeat buyer, you need to ask why you want to buy.

Are you planning to move to a new community due to a lifestyle change or is buying an option, not a requirement? What would you like in terms of real estate that you do not now have? Do you have a purchasing time frame?

Do you have the money? Over the years innovative loan programs have evolved that require a down payment of 5 percent or less. In fact, a number of programs now allow purchasers to buy real estate with nothing down. In addition to a down payment, purchasers also need cash for closing costs (the final costs associated with closing the loan). Several newly emerging loan programs not only allow the purchase of a home with no money down, but also underwrite closing costs.

Not everyone, however, elects to purchase with little or no money down. Less money down means higher mortgage payments, so most homebuyers choose to buy with some cash up front.

As to closing costs, in markets where buyers have leverage, it may be possible to negotiate an offer for a home that requires the owner to pay some or all of your settlement expenses.

Realtor.com

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