Real estate purchasing and investment can be a tricky business – and a daunting one if you have no market experience. Since the global financial crisis hit, it has become even harder for first home buyers and real estate investors to acquire and build a property portfolio. However, if you are prepared to do solid market research, investigate your best finance options, manage your debt wisely and invest some time and effort before deciding on a property to buy, buying real estate investment can be quite a rush!There are many ways to find a bargain, and some very useful tips and strategies to apply when conducting your market research, no matter where in the world you are looking to buy property. However here are a few ideas on how to look for and find a real estate bargain:Know Your Target Market When looking for real estate investment, do not restrict your market to your neighbourhood – the whole purpose is to find a hot property market where you will have consistent value and rental income without expensive operating costs. Typically, tourist hot spots are property goldmines, particularly if they are near to a beach and public transport is readily available. When you find your target area, find out who all of the local real estate agents are and ask them to identify where all educational facilities, shopping centres, medical surgeries and public transport facilities are located. You should aim to buy a property that has ready access to all of these facilities as this generally provides consistent market value.Monitor Your Target Market While You Search For Potential PropertiesOnce you have identified your market, keep a close eye on the local newspapers and property guides to keep well informed of how properties are selling and what their value is. Also keep an eye on what sort of rental returns you could expect based on the current market. As a general guide, your tenant should be paying about 1% of the value of the property in annual rent.Identify Deceased EstatesUsing the newspaper, also keep an eye on the legal notices to identify any deceased estates. Often, a property is left as part of a deceased estate and the executors will decide to sell it and split the cash asset rather than maintain and operate the property as an investment. This is because it usually brings a final end to the estate, provides a simple division of assets between numerous heirs and can prevent family disputes in future. Not to mention that many heirs are more interested in their monetary share of an estate, rather than larger assets which can be difficult to maintain when a number of related people have a vested interest.The executors may be willing to consider your early offer if the approach is made tactfully, and you could point out that your approach to them has saved them paying agents commission on the sale. If you have identified a deceased estate in the newspaper, the notice should provide contact details for the law firm or attorney representing the estate. To prevent appearing too forward during such a sad time for the executors, make your approach to their legal representatives.Identify Government AuctionsKeep an eye out for government auctions. These can include former government buildings which are demountable and can be relocated, vacant blocks of land for sale and residential homes.Identify Mortgagee Repossession SalesWith living costs rising many people are finding it difficult to service their onerous mortgages resulting in lenders, particularly big banks, foreclosing on increasing numbers of property. In these circumstances, the lender is primarily interested in recouping the amount of their debt and quite often these properties will sell for well under their market value. If you can identify the mortgagee prior to the auction and make an approach to them which is accepted, quite often you can secure a lower purchase price and the lender can avoid investing further time and money in advertising, court and auction expenses.Identify Short Sales This is a similar situation to where the lender will foreclose on a property for a default in mortgage repayments, however in this case the value of the property has decreased so that the sale of the property for its market value will not completely repay the debt. If you can identify such a property, you can usually approach the lender and offer to buy the property at a negotiated price. However, as the market value has obviously fallen you may not necessarily buy at a bargain price – the bargain will be determined by the type of investment and the return you make.The lender will probably still lose money, however they may be prepared to consider your offer if it means that they do not have to outlay for advertising and agents commission fees.There are various other ways to find yourself a real estate bargain, notwithstanding the current market situation, however these tips should give you a solid starting point. Remember, if you are not prepared to put in the time and effort to properly research potential acquisitions, and you do not have an investment objective, then you may have difficulty obtaining finance and you cannot expect to maximise your real estate wealth potential.