How to find a bargain

Each day another headline tells us just how bad the property market is, but loads of savvy investors are piling in and picking up bargains in this period of weakness.

So, how do you find a property bargain?

Ben Seymour-Brown, manager of group direct sales for ooba (formerly MortgageSA), suggests home hunters follow these five tips:

Learn to negotiate
For those wanting to hunt down a bargain, a buyers' market holds plenty of opportunities especially if you’re prepared to haggle on price. Estate agents will always try and get the best price they can for a property, but their businesses rely on transactions and they will be eager to shift homes that have been sitting on the books. Sales volumes have dried up dramatically so they will be very eager to notch up a sale.

Check for reductions
Thanks to the internet and websites like it has been possible to see what comparable properties are selling for and get a good idea of what’s on offer.

It is also possible to see properties that had their prices reduced by saving them in property search engines or using the website which shows properties that had reductions. Anyone interested in a certain area nearby should also keep a close eye on estate agent windows.

If you are serious about buying, use your knowledge of any reductions and how long a property has been on the market to try and negotiate the price down.

Register with reputable agents
If you are looking for a bargain, register as a buyer with several good agents in your target area. Tell them what you’re looking for and what your price range is and they ring you as soon as they have a matching property on their books. They’ll also let you know about price reductions.

Bargains don’t last long so you’ll have to move quickly.

Get pre-qualified
Closely related to the above, when a bargain comes up you’ll need to know if you can afford it. If you let a reputable bond originator do the home loan hunting for you, you’ll be sure to get the best rate and know in advance how much you can spend — all at no cost to you.

Sellers are also much more comfortable dealing with someone who already has finance in place and will likely give your offer greater weight than someone who has yet to secure finance.

Do your homework
You won’t know a bargain unless you know what prices are in the area you’re targeting. There are many websites like's Property Price Index that for a small fee will show you the actual selling prices of properties. These are often quite far removed from what the asking prices are. Be informed of what the recent selling price trends are so you can grab a bargain when one comes up.

Article by: Ben Seymour-Brown -