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5 things home buyers need to know

Mortgage rates topped four percent Thursday for the first time in three months, but it's still a buyer's market if you're looking for a home.

What should you know before you buy a house?

Here are some tips that may help you save money in the process:

1. Know all the players

You've got your banker/mortgage broker, who can tell you up-front what you can afford so you don't go out of your price range. You've got your actual agent, who will look out for listings that aren't yet on the public market. If you hire a listing agent, they work for you, they're obligated to have your best interests in mind. There are listing agents who list the sellers' homes. These people can be your best friends since, for them, they want listings to sell as soon as possible, so they're more likely to encourage the seller to sell to you faster and before prices have a chance to go up.

2. Learn how to bid

Bidding is the hardest and most important part when it comes to getting the right price for your home. And it can make or break your negotiations. Some people will tell you there's no such thing as an embarrassingly low offer. The worst the buyers can say is 'no.' Others will say you can offend a buyer if you go too low. So the best rule of thumb is to look at comparable homes. Start the bidding lower than your budget and be ready to work with counter offers.

3. Look for hidden costs

Most people price out their mortgage payments. But that's just the beginning. There could be hidden repair costs, so it's a good idea to hire a building inspector to make sure you're not in for thousands in repairs. There are property taxes, so scope out the neighborhood to see if there are any reasons they may be going up in the future. There can be community fees, too, so keep that in mind when picking neighborhoods.

4. Don't make big purchases before you buy

Don't make any big purchases, or move money from account-to-account, for about six months before buying a house. This can impact your credit profile, and lenders will want to know you're stable. So think about your dream house if you're tempted to open a new store credit card or buy a new car.

5. Get to know the neighborhood

It's beyond just knowing if the schools are good and how much your neighbors' houses are going for. Location is the one thing you can't change about your house, and it has a big impact on you. Even surprising things, such as if your neighbors are up to date on their taxes, can affect your future home value. Is someone planning major construction, such as a pool, that could affect property value? Does one of your new neighbors have a lot of late-night parties? Drive by your new house at night to see how the neighborhood is. See how long it takes you to get to work, to the grocery store. And of course, check out the schools, too. Even if you don't have kids, the quality of the school district will affect resale value.

For more with Rebecca Jarvis on "CBS This Morning," watch the video in the player above.

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