A question that comes up a lot with my clients is "Where do I find the best deal/ value on a home at?". This is not a very easy question to answer because every client is different and no one can live in a "deal". What sounds good on paper when you move in and realize how much is wrong with a home or unexpected is no one's idea of a good time. So forgetting the foreclosure trustee sales were generally the best raw deals are found (and buyers can only buy homes for cash site unseen most of the time.) where are the best values found?
In my opinion, I think the three best places to find a great home deal/ value would be as follows:
1) Bar none a highly competent and experienced Realtor. We see all of the sales, watch the inventory, know what problems to look for as well as what buyers and sellers are willing to pay for certain properties. I can size up a property in about 7 minutes and know how good (or bad) a deal is. Call it intuition, but I can generally identify (when representing a buyer) how bad the seller wants/ needs to sell as well.
I can see this by the condition of the property, checking the tax records to research amounts owed, I use all kinds of information to make decisions which allow me to make recommendations to my clients. I think any very competent Realtor can do the same. Having said that I would only rate about 1% to 2% of the Realtor population at being able to break properties down in this manner, it's not a skill you can learn quickly and only comes from hundreds and hundreds of negotiations and homes sold.
2) Homes that have just been reduced in price: Want to find the best deal on a home start with a seller reducing the price. This identifies the sellers more serious about selling. Pricing properties is hard (especially as you go up the price brackets) and many times sellers over-estimate the price the market will pay for a home. Sometimes there is no real "market" for a home due to its age/ location/condition etc. and all a seller can do is drop the price until someone bites. This is called price discovery and is an essential part of all marketplaces. When you need to sell and nothing is happening as a seller dropping the price is most likely your best tool to change things for yourself. As a buyer working with motivated sellers places you at a huge advantage in the marketplace. When sellers reduce the sales price it is easy to see they are more motivated than the average seller.
3) Homes that just came on the market: As mentioned previously pricing real estate is not easy. The better you are at it the closer you will get to properly pricing properties at the very top of what the market will pay. Sometimes a seller wants to sell for lots of reasons and will underprice a property to get rid of it. Those homes go fast and they are found by watching the new inventory as it comes on the market. If you are serious about getting a great value watch the new homes being placed on the market every few hours and in a couple days you will start to notice the better deals. Be ready to act when that deal comes on the market and there you go.
Hopefully, this helps you learn more about how the real estate market works. Focusing attention on the areas where the better values are found will go a long ways to allowing you to find that great home at an outstanding price!