7 Habits of Smart Bargain Hunters

1. Go FSBO.
Find “for sale by owner” ads in newspapers, or on FSBO.com or Craigslist. Offer at least 15 percent below asking.

2. Bid on more than one apartment at once—
and tell everyone involved. Let sellers fight over you.

3. Take sloppy seconds.
If a previous deal falls apart, the seller might be ready to compromise. (So even if you lose out the first go-round, always check back.)

4. Look for motivated sellers.
Are moving boxes piled up in a corner? A crib in the dining room? Ask outright if they need to move out quickly, then bid at least 10 percent off asking.

5. Buy a starter apartment.
Studios and one-bedrooms are particularly vulnerable to a flattening market—they represent nearly a quarter of what’s currently available.

6. Be a vulture.
Go to NYforeclosures.com or PropertyShark.com to find homes about to go into foreclosure. Approach the owner directly before the bank swoops in. Proceed carefully.

7. Use Web tools to comparison-shop.
On Trulia.com, you can see all the properties for sale in one building or on a particular block. Streeteasy.com breaks costs down on a per-square-foot basis, so you can easily compare similar apartments by price.

7 Habits of Smart Bargain Hunters