Search for properties slightly above your price category to see what a little more will buy you. Picture: Reuters

London - If you are buying or selling a home, you need to brush up on your housing market knowledge.

The market has taken a turn for the worse and your main tasks when selling will be getting your house in tip-top shape and then setting the right price. As a buyer, meanwhile, you can bag a bargain - but only if you know the tricks of the trade.

Get to know estate agents

It helps to become the estate agent’s - and, eventually, the seller’s - favourite buyer. Make the effort to meet them in person and always be courteous and friendly.

Cash buyer? 

Prove it: If you are fortunate to be able to buy a home without any borrowing, provide the agent with proof of these funds. You’d be surprised how many people say they are cash buyers when it turns out they are not.

Use the internet

There are a number of popular tools which allows you to search specifically where you want to buy by editing area boundaries. The keyword search narrows specifics for the type of property you are looking for, such as cottage, garage, parking or garden.

Look beyond your price range

Search for properties slightly above your price category to see what a little more will buy you. More importantly, you can keep an eye on those out of your reach in case they are reduced.

Don’t believe everything you read

Estate agents can get things wrong. Double-check particulars such as the length of lease if a property is leasehold, and planning permissions where it claims some have been granted.

Do some detective work

If you’re buying in a new area, do research on the neighbourhood. You can’t always rely on what the vendor or their agent tells you about the neighbours. Visit the area at different times and chat to locals.

Meet the owners

Find an excuse to meet the owners when you are making an offer on a property, as they will often feel more obliged to sell to you. Once a seller has got to know you, they are far less likely to act ruthlessly.

Find a bargain

What counts as a "bargain" will differ in every postcode. Whatever type of property is in surplus in a particular area is where you will find the best deals.

Sell your home DIY-style

You could sidestep using a traditional estate agent and market your property yourself online. 

Be smart on price

To secure a sale, sellers must set tempting asking prices and then reduce them if there is little initial interest, say experts.

Miles Shipside, of Rightmove, says: "Price rises have had a good run, but the days of getting punchy prices are gone for now."

First impressions

If you’re selling, you only have one chance to make that first impression. Research shows painting your front door can actually help with a sale. Clearing the front garden is also essential.

Stage your home

Years ago, you could get away with a quick tidy-up, a lick of paint and the smell of fresh bread. Today, sellers even "dress" a property before putting it on the market, and even redecorating might be worth it if you get a better price.

Be honest

Tell the truth about work that needs to be done in your home. If the property needs updating, then it’s fine to market it as unmodernised. You’ll then attract the right kind of buyer.