MARKETS are tumbling, analysts are bewildered, treasury bosses are blubbering and currencies are not worth a cracker. Time to curb the cash flow, right? No way. Talk to anyone in the know and they will tell you it is time to go shopping for the bargain of the decade. Forget soaring interest rates and the fact that you might be out of work tomorrow. If your bank balance is bulging, pounce now. Fancy a yacht, skipper? A luxury tub with a US$4 million price tag was sold recently in Hong Kong for just US$1 million. Enough saving for a few extra bottles of Bolly to celebrate. How about a new apartment . . . double garage, 2,500 square feet, garden terrace, full security and majestic sea views? One went just a few days ago - asking price HK$35 million, selling price HK$12.3 million. Poor chap selling had a mortgage of HK$18 million so he is a little out of pocket on the whole affair - c'est la vie. Yes the big ticket items are going for a song and not just in the top-end niche either. Focus your attention on pre-loved merchandise and you are looking at a cut in price of 50 per cent plus, according to industry experts, who all say 'buy now'. 'As always, cash is king,' says European Motors managing director Paul Gross, who warns against looking for too much borrowed finance. 'I can give an example of someone I know - call him Jimmy Chan - whose 1996 BMW 318i SA is now worth $175,000, but his outstanding loan is $220,000. In a repo situation the car would go for probably $130,000,' he said. Mr Gross says new car prices have dipped by 10-20 per cent to stem the trend of plummeting sales, which are about 50 per cent down from six or seven months ago. The jalopy market is a treasure trove of bargains, so shop around, Mr Gross says. 'Any Japanese car over six years old will go for small change - your Honda Civic which carried an $80,000 price tag last year you'll pick up for $40,000,' he said. 'Of course, the old rules apply - shop around and have your car checked out by a reputable mechanic before you buy.' On the housing front 'it's a buyer's market', declares Morehouses Real Estate Agency manager Philip Chan, with that distinctive note of enthusiasm normally associated with real estate agents. 'Now is the time. You are definitely not going to lose. You're getting cost price on a long-term investment and you can't hope to find a better deal than that' he said. 'The downside is there is a lot of pressure on borrowing. A 70-30 mortgage split with the bank is now more likely to be 60-40 and they're not partial to lending for more than 10 years which, of course, puts a lot of pressure on the purchaser. Cash flow is the problem.' However, if you have the dollars bargains abound and Mr Chan says the bottom end of the housing market is just as tempting as the top. A 400 sq ft apartment which would have fetched $1.5 million a year ago can now be yours for about $800,000. Mid-range apartments of 2,000 sq ft have seen reductions of up to 35 per cent on purchase prices, not quite the bargains of the luxury and bottom-end niches. Mr Chan advises clever choices in the luxury market in areas such as Mid-Levels, Stanley and other island areas where there are 'tremendous drops'. In the lower end look for bargains in areas such as Junk Bay and Yuen Long. 'If the bad news isn't over by September, expect prices to drop another five or 10 per cent,' he said. Roger Eastham has been around boats most of his life - about the only things missing are the patch, the parrot and the peg-leg. As director of a company called 22 North in Pak Sha Wan he deals with the top tier of boat sales, dabbling in the runabout market for fun. He says that while new boats carry a fairly static price tag, in many cases they represent a fairly heavy discount, or stronger purchasing power, due to the peg's stability as other currencies have fallen. The second-hand market has been 'much more volatile', Mr Eastham says. 'I sold one recently for less than 40 per cent of what it would have fetched a year ago - a drop from HK$1.8 million to $600,000.' A family fun tub also is worth a look. According to Mr Eastham, asking price for a 10-year-old, 24-26 feet sailboat until recently would have been $100,000, with a sale probable at $80,000. Now you are likely to get a sale about $40,000.