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With incomes for many reaching the clouds, more prospective homeowners are out hunting the houses of their dreams.

This high demand, of course, gives sellers an edge.

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People selling their homes "will continue to get asking and above-asking sales prices," says Cenna Skulsky, senior vice president of the Internet mortgage company apponline.com.

Ms. Skulsky offers some tips to help home buyers level the playing field:

*With the help of a real estate agent (and by checking local papers), research past and present values of other homes in the area.

*Drive by potential properties ahead of time and determine which you're most serious about. By narrowing the field, you'll be able to spend more time at the ones you like most.

*Obtain a mortgage-commitment letter that states you pre-qualify for a certain amount. This helps sellers take you more seriously.

*When making an offer, give the sellers a reasonable deadline by which to respond. It shows you're serious.

*Even if your bid is rejected in favor of another offer, have your broker keep checking back. Negotiations often fall through.

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*Try to meet the sellers face-to-face. This allows them to see your seriousness, and sometimes helps overcome emotional attachment to the home.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society


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