1. Get pre-approved for your mortgage, rather than just pre-qualified.

It strengthens your bargaining position with sellers and their real

estate agents.

2.When rates are high, consider buying down your rate by coming up

with more money to finance the mortgage. Use our mortgage calculator

to check your real savings.

3.Ask about builder incentives to reduce loan costs.

4.Leave some breathing room in your budget. Consider a smaller

mortgage that won't tie up too much money -- not more than 28 percent

of your gross monthly income.

5.Biweekly mortgage payments save thousands of interest dollars and

shave years off a 30-year loan. Save even more by doing it yourself.

6.Cancel private mortgage insurance (PMI) once your mortgage reaches

an 80 percent loan-to-value.

7.If you know your home has greatly appreciated in value, get an

appraisal. Use your home's appreciated value to petition the lender to

cancel PMI.

8.Make extra mortgage payments, whether monthly, once a year or on

some other schedule, to get to 80 percent LTV -- and cancel PMI more


9.If you live in an area with increasing home prices, buy a rental

property. Live in it for two years to avoid capital gains when you sell.

10.Be house-wise. Sell the big house, or don't buy more house than you

need. Get an affordable townhouse or smaller home.

11.Rent out a room in your home if you have more space than you need.

12.Refinance to take advantage of exceptionally low interest rates.