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You also need to carefully consider how badly you want a particular house and what you are willing to pay for it in the event of competition. I just bought a house and beat out 6 other contracts because I was willing to pay $250 more than the others as well as close at a date most convenient to the seller. Had I gone with a slightly lower offer -- my realtor's recommendation -- I would have been dead in the water. YMMV.

- D
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