Few can doubt that knowledge is crucial in any business endeavor. It's just common sense: the more you know about who and what you're dealing with, the better off you will be. Real estate, though, is arguably the most knowledge-driven of any business. It is all about terrain, and knowing the terrain is how you do real estate.

For most people, buying a home is one of the most important decisions they will make in their lives. Safety, a good neighborhood, a fair price, affordability, and high resale potential are five key areas of buyer concern. Because the typical buyer doesn't move very often, he or she may not to be aware of everything involved in the purchase of a home.

Each area of buyer concern requires research. No one knows such information right off the bat, and a lot of it is not readily available. A prospective homebuyer must be prepared to do research to find out exactly what he or she is getting for the money.

Regardless of your home-buying priorities, you should look for certain problems while keeping your eyes on the big picture of this big purchase. For example, becoming familiar with the schools, even if you don't have school-age children, is important because communities with good schools are better places to make your investments.

Crime and security in an area where you're considering buying is another important arena of knowledge. These aspects of the community have a huge impact on the nature of the real estate. Crime is the enemy of real estate success.

Because it is difficult to understand an area's crime trends, you need to conduct some research to fully understand whether the area is stable or going downhill. After all, many home buyers and real estate investors have made great profits after buying property in communities that were rough and tumble one year, and then full of young professionals the next. Greater risk often offers the potential for greater profit, but you need to make a considered decision about investing in areas where safety is a concern by taking these steps:

Visit city hall and review real estate transactions. Are prices going up or down? In which areas are changes happening? What types of properties sell the fastest? Which properties have owed city taxes in the past?

Visit police headquarters and talk to police officers on the street. Ask what kinds of crimes take place, where they are most likely to occur, and whether crime rates are increasing or decreasing.

Get out and look around. Walk the streets during the day and at night. Notice how street activity changes after dark. Are there nice-looking young school children on the streets in the after-school hours, then drug dealers once the sun goes down? There are things you can see yourself that no one can tell you - not your lawyer, not your real estate agent, not your banker.

Talk to people in the local coffee shop, diner, laundry mat, or newsstand about the neighborhood. Ask the locals if they've ever been victims of crime? Do they know other people who have?

Talk to owners of properties similar to those you are considering. They are often eager to tell you about their experiences. An apartment-building superintendent may give you the name of a building's owner, or you can search tax records at city hall to identify the names of investors who already own properties in the city or town.

Trump University's Buying a Home . . . The Right Way can show you how to buy a home using a rational system that will help you get the home you want at the lowest price. In this online course you will actually go out in the field and shop for a home, so you can see how it's done. For more information, click here.

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