Buying a property is probably the biggest investment we make in our lifetimes, so considering the financial gains that can be made, it's certainly worth taking the time to learn how to uncover those rare property gems that can be picked up for less than their market value. There's no reason why they have to be reserved for experienced property developers, in fact finding them is a skill that anyone can learn.
In the current economic climate, finding low-priced property is hardly a challenge, but whilst it is one thing to find a cheap property, it is another thing entirely to identify one that is for sale at a price below its market value and the knack is in knowing how to spot the difference. One golden rule of wise investment is never to assume that a discounted price is automatically under market value. It's all part and parcel of gaining a realistic picture as to prices and this can only be achieved by thorough monitoring of property values over time.
This way you will learn to identify the difference between houses genuinely for sale below market value and those that have had the asking price reduced simply because they were overpriced to begin with.
Owners advertise their properties under market value for a variety of reasons when circumstances compel them to try for a quick sale. These could include divorce, a death in the family, or foreclosure; the legal process whereby an owner relinquishes his or her rights by defaulting on the mortgage. Ownership of the property then passes to the bank or other investors who are often in a position to accept a resale price that is lower than the market value. Your local bank and its regional network may therefore prove a valuable asset in introducing you to suitable under priced properties that have become available in this way.
Most people begin their property search by approaching local estate agents, who are in the best position to be able to advise on the full range of property available. Bear in mind that an estate agent is often just as interested in turning over a quick sale as in securing the highest offer for their client. If a property has been on the market for a long time, they will be quite willing to disclose whether they feel the owner would be willing to take a reduction to the asking price. A number of agents are now also specialising in sourcing properties that are on offer below the market price. Registering with them is certainly not limited to experienced property developers and this is an excellent short-cut to finding those bargains.
Property auctions are another obvious avenue and it's worth attending several of these to realistically assess what people are prepared to pay. However, try not to be swayed by what appears to be an under priced bargain but actually turns out to be a structurally defective property and therefore not under priced after all. Properties that have been seized for a variety of reasons are often sold off cheaply at auctions. Local Government offices coordinate the collection of property taxes and certain eligibility criteria apply to those wishing to take part in the auction. By enquiring with your local council directly you may find you can apply to participate and gain access to some great opportunities.