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Get everything in writing.

This is especially important during any kind of contract negotiation. Verbal commitments are hard to prove after the fact, so make sure that all the small details are added to the purchase contract. If the seller says you can have the curtains, make sure the contract says so!

Determine your housing needs.

How long do you intend to live in your new home? Will you be starting or adding to your family? Do you have any special requirements such as proximity to stores, public transportation, recreation facilities, etc.? These are the sort of things you should consider when deciding what kind of housing you will need--not just now, but also five years from now. Remember, if you intend on moving again relatively soon, you should get a shorter term when choosing your mortgage.

Make high-return improvements to your home before you sell.

There are a number of improvements that you can make to your house that will provide a greater-than-100% return on your initial investment. Chief among these is having your house painted, but you should also consider kitchen and bathroom renovations, adding fireplaces and skylights, and attic or basement conversions. Contrary to popular belief, building a swimming pool is not a good capital investment, and will usually only add 33% of its cost to your home's final sale price.