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Homebuyers eager for spring real estate price thaw

Consumers planning to jump into the real estate market this spring will need to reassess pricing, whether they are looking to buy or sell.

The spring real estate market has been off to a slow start, but experts foresee plenty of pent-up demand that could heat up the market as warmer weather arrives. Earlier this month, a report from Zillow.com found that 10 percent of U.S. renters say they would like to buy a home within the next year.

In February, asking prices were 10.4 percent higher than a year earlier, according to Trulia.com. Even without a bidding war in play, buyers have less leverage to negotiate lower prices. That, combined with stricter borrowing limits from lenders, could mean buyers have a smaller budget than anticipated, said Michael Corbett, a real estate expert with Trulia.com. Before starting a house hunt, secure pre-approval from a lender. "Otherwise, you'll end up looking at houses that aren't in your price range, and putting in offers that won't fly with the bank," said Corbett, author of "Before You Buy."

(Read more: As rates edge higher, mortgage applications slip)

—By CNBC's Kelli B. Grant. Follow her on Twitter @Kelligrant and on Google.

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