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—Identify your must-haves: Is low maintenance important to you? Must the home be newer, so you can move in without doing much remodeling? Is entertaining important? Decide what’s on your wish list, as well as which items are nonnegotiable. That will help prevent you from seeing homes that don’t really fit what you want.

—Do your homework: Think about what neighborhood you want to live in and learn about new developments that might suit your needs. Envision how you want to spend your future. Then do a reality check: Talk with a trusted real-estate agent about the conditions of the market and let them help you pinpoint houses, Piper said. Don’t forget to check in with a good money adviser, who can help if you’re considering financing part of the purchase.

—Embrace technology: Mobile real-estate applications can help home buyers stay aware of new listings on the market. “You don’t want to miss out on something, as particular as you are,” Piper said.

©2013 MarketWatch
Distributed by MCT Information Services

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