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If you're house hunting, you're probably getting snowed with advice from well-meaning friends and family members on which neighborhoods are hot, how so-and-so is selling a place you have to see ... and plenty more. That's all fine if you have an insatiable appetite for info, but what if you're a bit more discerning about the tips and tricks you want delivered your way?

We asked home buyers and real estate agents to share not just any old advice, but the very best home buying advice they've ever heard. These tips can help you save money, keep you from losing money, and stop you from making a real estate purchase you regret. So pay attention, dear home buyers!
Buy less house than you can afford ... just in case
“Growing up, my parents bought several homes, and one of the lessons my mother, a civil service worker and longtime beautician, instilled in me was never to buy more house than you can afford. This came back to me when my husband and I bought our home 26 years ago. When our first
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Finding your dream home is an exciting adventure that, at times, can also feel all-consuming. On a good day, it's fun to swipe through listings and whiz through every open house in your area, but after umpteen hours of it—and perhaps a lost bidding war or two—it can almost drive you mad.

If you sometimes feel like you're spinning your wheels and wandering aimlessly from property to property, we get it. House hunt burnout is real. Yet there are also plenty of smart ways to keep your stress levels and sanity on even keel.

Get pre-approved for a mortgage before you even start
Do not pass Go, do not even look at online listings until you have your mortgage pre-approval lined up.

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We're fond of the analogy that shopping for real estate is a lot like online dating. The similarities are seemingly endless—you should never be too eager, and you have to remember that looks can be deceiving.

That's never more true than when it comes to presenting your home in real estate listing photos. You can have the most sought-after home on the block, but if you don’t take the right pictures, your house might attract more squatters than buyers.

Don’t believe us? Check out these cringe-worthy photos we found while scouring the multiple listing service. Learn from them, young Padawan.

1. No more corners, ever! For some reason, sellers really like to take pictures of corners. Cold, lonely corners. Nothing is gained from a potential buyer peering into a photo of a barren corner. After all, every house has corners.
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As most of us know, home staging can help sell a house—particularly in the living room, which has gotten a bad rap lately as a waste of space.

The fact is, first impressions matter, and the living room is usually near the entry point for most homes. Reality check: This room may not be the end-all, be-all area it used to be, but this is no place for your kid's train set, your husband's guitar stands, or any unnecessary clutter. So, it pays to do all you can to showcase this space right. To help, here are some living room staging tips buyers will love.

Amy Bell, owner of Red Chair Home Interiors in Cary, NC, urges homeowners to evaluate whether any furniture can be "voted off the island"—i.e., out of the room.

"I recently staged a home in which the living room contained enough furniture for two rooms," she notes. But, as part of the staging process, she shuffled the items and placed the contents in two different places. As a result, the home sold in one day.

Once you've removed some of the furniture, consider making an arrangement that allows people to sit and chat.

 

What is a kitchen work triangle? It's the shape formed when you connect your kitchen's main three work areas—fridge, stove, and sink—where most of the prepping, cooking, and cleaning take place.

If you're in the process of renovating your kitchen, this "work triangle" term is bound to be bandied about—and for good reason: If there's one room in your home that you'd like to be as streamlined and efficient as possible, it's the kitchen. Whether you're heating up a frozen pizza or preparing a Thanksgiving feast, you don't want to waste time needlessly navigating between your appliances and cleaning and prepping places.
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