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Ronald DeVoe's real-estate tips

Expertise from music icon

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When it comes to music, Ronald "Ronnie" DeVoe is damn-near legendary. Back in the early '80s, he helped to form the R&B boy band New Edition and became a teeny-bopper superstar. Then, in the early '90s, he, along with N.E. bandmates Michael Bivins and Ricky Bell, created the hip-hop-smoothed-out-on-the-R&B-tip-with-a-pop-feel-appeal trio Bell Biv DeVoe. The group became an MTV heavy-rotation superhero.

These days, DeVoe continues to move the crowd as a member of N.E. and BBD, but he's also made moves to branch out of the music industry -- and into real estate.

DeVoe has worked as an Atlanta-based real-estate professional for more than three years (www.devoeonline.com). He prides himself on being a knowledgeable cat when it comes to selling houses, so we thought it'd be cool if he offered you readers some of his expertise ... regarding real estate, that is. So here are DeVoe's top five tips for buying property:

1) Know your credit history: "You can find that out for less than 50, 60 bucks with a three-in-one credit report from the three different reporting agencies: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. So when you're talking with lenders or brokers, you have a sense of what your history is and nobody can sit there and tell you some stuff that may not be true. 'Cause that's where you're gonna lose a whole lot of money in the financing aspect of purchasing real estate. Over time, [you'll lose] thousands and thousands of dollars if you're not getting the right terms."

2) Get a good agent: "Deal with an agent that has knowledge, experience and expertise -- and some integrity. There are a lot of agents out there, unfortunately, that are looking to make the most commission they can make. I run into situations where people will be approved for $250,000 or $150,000 [as a] first-time home buyer, but their agent won't sit down and let them know that they might not necessarily need to use the full $150,000. You're gonna have to pay taxes, insurance, utilities, you might want to start saving money for a rainy day and what have you. Just [find] somebody that's gonna handle the transaction as if it were their own."

3) Pick the right place: "Figure out where you want to live and what type of house you wanna buy -- three, four bedroom, new construction, foreclosure or resale."

4) Buy low: "A lot of people think that you make money when you sell real estate, but you actually make money when you purchase. You figure, if buy a home that's worth $500,000 but you purchase it for $410,000, you automatically have $90,000 of equity in that property."

5) Get an inspection: "Get a certified inspector to check for things like lead paint and other problems. There's so much that can go wrong that will end up costing thousands of dollars."

New Edition plays Chastain Park Amphitheatre Fri., May 19. $48.75-$73.75. 7 p.m. 4469 Stella Drive. 404-249-6400. www.ticketmaster.com.

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