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The Pull of the Tide Versus Cash Flow

February 24, 2002

Home buyer: Darren Gennuso, 29

Occupation: California Highway Patrol officer

Gross monthly income: $5,550 with overtime; $4,600 without overtime

Goal: To buy a home in the South Bay as an investment

The problem: Gennuso invests too much of his income, overspends, lacks a down payment and wants to live near the beach, which will be expensive.

Recommendations:

* Buy a home now, as analysts predict real estate prices will go up later this year.

* Temporarily eliminate any current heavy investments, such as a 401(k), to help bridge the gap between paying rent and a higher mortgage amount.

* Increase exemptions on state and federal income tax to free up money to help pay a higher mortgage.

* Be prepared to purchase a home that may not be a first choice, but to view real estate as an investment that will grow and trade up later.

Alsion B. Cohen

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