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Rita: I am thinking of buying a home in Ocean County, NJ. It will be on a lagoon because we would like to buy a boat and dock it outside. Do you think these homes will come down in price or stay the same? Not sure if this is a good investment for my husband and I.

Housing Guru: While home prices have begun to stabilize and even increase in some areas, the housing market is still struggling. However, homes with specific benefits because of location, such as view lots or water access should continue to hold their values in most areas much better than homes without such location features. I suspect you'll see little or no further drops in price. And if you'll be getting a mortgage, you must consider that we are currently experiencing the lowest rates in history; waiting for a price drop could cost more if interest rates rise. And while, we can never predict what will happen in any market with certainty, if the home is in a good location, has good interior and exterior appeal, and if the price is competitive, it could be a good deal. I always recommend using an experienced local real estate agent to guide through any purchase. They can provide info on local pricing as well as advise you through the negotiating process. But don't look as the home as in investment; if it turns out to be so that's great. Base your purchase on an evaluation of your research and whether or not the home meets your current and future needs.


Ruth: I desperately need to sell my home in order to move to another state, but my neighborhood is full of foreclosures. I bought my home in 2002, but am not sure I have any equity. How can I compete with the foreclosures and get at least some of my investment back?

Housing Guru: You didn't say where you live, but unless it's in one of the hardest hit areas, you may be able to come out okay. I see three steps you need to take: #1. Pay to have your home appraised. That way you'll have a price range for a potential sale. #2. Hire the best real estate agent you can find. Don't just go with suggestions from friends/relatives unless the recommendations come with a proven track record. Interview at least 3 agents. #3. Make your home sparkle. Read all the articles in my "Sellers' Corner," especially the ones that relate to preparing your home for sale and finding hidden buyers. If the appraisal indicates that you have equity, then make your home more appealing to potential buyers, and if that means spending a little money up front, do so. The only way you'll get maximum price is to offer maximum value. Good luck!