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Sunday, April 9, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Real estate how-to

Carefully examine terms of purchase

While much attention is spent on offering prices, a proposal to buy includes both the price and terms.

In some cases, terms can represent thousands of dollars in additional value for buyers — or additional costs. Terms are extremely important and should be carefully reviewed.

How much?

You sometimes hear that the amount of your offer should be x percent below the seller's asking price or y percent less than you're really willing to pay.

In practice, the offer depends on the basic laws of supply and demand: If many buyers are competing for homes, then sellers will likely get full-price offers and sometimes even more. If demand is weak, then offers below the asking price may be in order.

How do you make an offer?

The process of making offers varies around the country. In a typical situation, you will complete an offer that the real-estate agent will present to the owner and the owner's representative.

The owner, in turn, may accept the offer, reject it or make a counteroffer.

Because counteroffers are common (any change in an offer can be considered a "counteroffer"), it's important for buyers to remain in close contact with the real-estate agent during the negotiation process so that any proposed changes can be quickly reviewed.

Realtors.com

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