Even though times are tough, there are still some bargains out there, but you’ve got to know the territory. Deals can be found in the housing market, big vehicles, stocks, wine, beer and even hot dogs.

Even though times are tough, there are still some bargains out there, but you’ve got to know the territory.

Hoping to buy your first home?

“As a first-time home buyer (without an existing home) if you’re not looking right now, you’re crazy,” said Mike Kozinski, owner and operating principal of Kelley Williams Legacy Group and president of the Stark County Association of Realtors.

“There’s inventory out there and sellers have to be realistic,” he said. And even with tightened credit because of the mortgage loan crisis, “If you have a decent credit score, you can buy a home right now.”

The mortgage situation has contributed to the increased inventory.
Foreclosed properties and short-sale (reduced price) properties can be real bargains.

“In many cases, they are selling for less than the previous owner paid for them,” Kozinski said. “Those asset companies want to get rid of those properties.”

Newer entries on the market get more activity and tend to sell faster than houses that have been sitting on the market.

“Some houses have been on the market for a while because the market has said, ‘We’re not interested.’ That’s often because of price, but sometimes the seller, for financial reasons, can’t come down in price. And some people are just stubborn,” he said.

Gas guzzlers

How about a big ol’ gas guzzler? If you’ve always wanted a big vehicle, “Right now, used SUVs and pickups are a great buy,” said Brad Black, general manager of Downtown Ford Lincoln Mercury in Canton.

He’s read that used truck values are down 18 percent, and some trucks normally priced at $20,000 are down to $13,000.

“You can buy a lot of gas for 7,000 bucks.”

Some new trucks have almost $8,000 in incentives.

“That’s huge,” Black said. “”Some F150s (pickups) get 20 miles per gallon.”

With the savings available, it’s cheaper to operate than a car, but “everybody thinks out of their wallet. I do, too,” he said.

Stocks

With your 401(k) or your IRA going into the toilet, can stocks be a bargain?

“Absolutely. It just depends on what you’re looking at,” said Perry Reghetti, financial adviser and broker with Perry Reghetti & Associates.

“I’m not having any of my clients look at financials (banks, brokerages) right now,”he said. “Although in a year, Lehman Bros. will be double what they are now. I’m not too keen on any of the others.”

Reghetti said his firm is being “very defensive, but that doesn’t mean conservative.”

He’s not putting his clients into commodities, but commodity-based stocks, such as gold mines, natural gas transporters, oil freighters, oil drillers, and things that transport commodities, “because we feel that people are going to use more stuff,” he said.

The investments “don’t need the price of oil to be $140 a barrel, they just need people to be using oil.”

Wine

Wine makers in southern France have rioted, demanding state aid because of plummeting wine prices while fuel costs rise. Wine can be another bargain right now.

“Even domestic wines,” said Jeffrey Fisher, president of the Fishers Foods chain. “All wines have become such a bargain,” because of an excess of grapes.
He’s seeing discounts of $5, $6 sometimes up to $10 a bottle.

A bottle of Robert Mondavi Fume Blanc, a premium Napa Valley wine, is regularly priced at $21 a bottle, but was selling for $10 off, he said.

“I’ve never seen a sale on wine like that in five years.”

But there’s a bright spot for folks who aren’t ready to invest in a home, stocks or big vehicle.

Picnic supplies

“I think you’re seeing some pretty aggressive pricing on beer, also,” Fisher said.

And hot dog prices haven’t increased, either. That may not be connected to any other market forces.

“It’s just that we’ve not seen price increases on those like we
have on grocery items,” Fisher said. “You might see some price increases in the fall or winter.”

And oh yeah, just to make the picnic complete, Fisher said prices also have held steady on ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce -- and baked beans.