Decades ago, sellers priced a little high to leave room to negotiate down. Buyers typically offered 5 percent less. Then they negotiated and settled at a price in between. Today, there is so much variability in the housing market that it's impossible to use a pat formula for coming up with an offer price. Your goal is always the same: You want to buy the best house for your needs and pay the lowest price. In many cases, you can start with a price that is less -- maybe even considerably less -- than the asking price and negotiate from there. However, this strategy might not work in some California inland markets where housing prices have dropped about 50 percent in recent years. Some low-end housing markets plagued with foreclosures have heated up in recent months. Multiple offers...
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