When looking into buying real estate, either for your primary residence or for investment, with prices down now is a great time to invest. What prices are in one city does not mean that they will be the same in another city.House prices change from one area to another due to a variety of factors including: inventories, climate, crime rate, economy and population growth. The best performing zip codes within a city or area have low crime rates, good school districts along with the hospitals, malls and police stations. You should drive around in the neighborhood you are considering buying in at different times of the day just to get a good feel of the area. If you are near or on water and you are new to the area be sure to check and see what water levels are after heavy rains or in the spring if it is area where there is run off from snow.At this time with so many foreclosed homes on the market, in almost all areas of the country, your real estate agent should be able to advise you of the best deals in your area. If you are buying investment property you should stay within your general area as it best not to be an absentee landlord, even if you have a good manager. Another tip is do not buy from the selling agent of the property, and that is because they represent the seller. You need to get someone, another agent, to represent you.A good mortgage can also play a role in your investments. Always read your loan application carefully before signing it. Avoiding a prepayment penalty can save you thousands when selling. Understanding what your credit report says is essential. Do not order your credit report online. Most people do or they order their free report. What they don’t realize is by doing this they worsen the score, every time a report is pulled your score will lower. The lender will be pulling your report. You should order your credit report directly through the credit bureaus by calling their 800 numbers. Be careful, they will try to get you to order it online, be persistent, stay on the phone and ask for a written copy to be mailed to you. This is true copy and what the mortgage company or bank will receive.Consider using a mortgage broker, the fee you will pay will be worth it because they represent several companies. They will have options available and you can choice the one right for you. Make sure that the bank or mortgage company does not sell you a higher interest rate than you qualify for. Don’t be afraid to negotiate with your bank or broker, you negotiated for the price of your home, you can do the same with the mortgage. Every fee on the mortgage is negotiable, the only things not, are the taxes, insurance and filing fees. When you use a broker, tell him you are willing to pay a half point origination fee, but you don’t expect to pay any back end fees.Always read your closing documents very carefully and have an attorney present. It is better to spend a few hundred dollars now, on an attorney to save the possibility of a few thousand later to avoid a serious problem.