Buy at auction
With mortgage borrowing difficult and property prices falling more homes are failing to sell at auction and auctioneers are demanding realistic reserve prices, or turning sellers away.

Auction specialist the Essential Information Group says just 54% of homes going under the hammer sold in the three months to August. Do your research properly, buying at auction can mean picking a property up for 20% to 30% below estate agent asking prices.

You must get your finances sorted before the auction and it is advisable to have the property surveyed in the same way you would any other.

Check for reductions
Thanks to the internet for some time it has been possible to see what properties sold for over the past seven years or so, either using free house price websites or the Land Registry.

Now it is also possible to see properties that have had their prices reduced, by saving them in property search engines, or using the website, which shows properties that have 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 down the price.

Learn to negotiate
For those wanting to hunt down a bargain a soft market holds plenty of opportunities. 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. Reports have shown that the number of properties selling has reached record lows, and agents will be more than willing to put good offers to sellers.

Let them know you are a committed buyer and they will work to try and get your purchase through.

Beat the stamp duty threshold
The stamp duty threshold has temporarily been raised from £125,000 to £175,000 in a bid by the Government to boost the property market. This will save buyers up to £1,750 and while that is not a huge amount, it’s better to have it in your pocket rather than the taxman’s. Many people will find that £175,000 is less than the price they are expecting to pay, but remember if you adjust your expectations or look in a slightly cheaper area you may get in under the limit. Some developers are also offering incentives such as paying stamp duty, but beware new build property is suffering badly in the current slump.

Look at ‘sell your own home’ websites
The growth of websites allowing people to sell their own home has delivered a fair selection of property available direct from the seller, although not as much choice as that still going through estate agents. The advantage of using these services as a buyer is that you get to deal direct with the seller and so can negotiate face-to-face with no middleman and that they are not paying an agent commission, so are likely to accept a lower offer.

How long has the property been unsold? If it is a long time it is clear no one will buy at this price, the longer it's been on the market the more you can take off. What was the original asking price? House prices are falling. Down on average 13% year-on-year according to the Halifax use this to push down the asking price What work needs doing? Add up all the costs for work then add 10% this is a fair cost for how much you should want off How much did neighbouring homes sell for? A good guide is that price falls mean we currently at around early 2006 prices again. Can the seller negotiate their own discount? Tell them they may want to negotiate their price for their new hone down too - then you both benefit.