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Buyers: Be Prepared, Be Smart
CNBC.com | October 08, 2009 | 09:31 AM EDT

Inventories are high, prices are low and housing markets across the country are still testing the bottom following the real estate recession that wiped out more than $4 trillion worth of homeowner equity since 2006.

Tough times if you’re a seller. But those in the market to buy have assumed an enviable position indeed.“Buyers are paying 20 to 40 percent less than they would have paid two years ago and far less in some markets,” says Eddie Fadel, a mortgage broker and author of “Don’t Rent, Buy!” “You have more bargaining power right now.”Low interest rates and federal incentives (such as the $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers) are giving would-be buyers greater motivation still to get off the fence.Yet, despite all the upsides, many house hunters remain hesitant to commit, fearing prices in their target neighborhoods may fall further in the months ahead.At the same time, tighter lending restrictions have made it harder to qualify for a mortgage loan, keeping the dream of home ownership out of reach for all but the most credit worthy consumers.

As such, Barry Zigas, director of housing policy for the Consumer Federation of America, says those looking to benefit from the buyer’s market today must come to the table prepared, armed with a clean financial bill of health and plenty of research to ensure they get the best deal on their purchase.

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