NEW YORK - Home buyers in much of the United States paid thousands of dollars below the asking price, but had slightly less negotiating power in August than in July, real estate website said on Thursday.

According to the Zillow Real Estate Market Reports, buyers paid 3 percent less, or a median of $6,525 below the listing price on homes bought in August, down from $7,018, or 3.3 percent, less for homes bought in July.

Buyers' negotiating power peaked in January, when buyers were paying 4.5 percent less than last listing price, a median of $10,096, Zillow said.

Meanwhile, sellers continued to cut prices on unsold homes. One quarter, or 24.7 percent, of all homes listed for sale on Zillow had at least one listing price reduction as of October 1, 2009. The median U.S. price reduction was 6.6 percent off the original listing price, the reports showed.

Florida home buyers again in August had the most negotiating power, with buyers in the Vero Beach metropolitan statistical area (MSA) paying 8.9 percent less -- or a median $20,974 -- than the last listing price. Buyers in the Naples MSA paid 8 percent less than list price.

The Naples, Daytona Beach, Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Ocala, Lakeland, Punta Gorda, Melbourne, Gainesville, Tampa, Jacksonville and Fort Myers MSAs also ranked, in that order, as the top markets for negotiation, Zillow said.

But in two California markets, buyers paid more than asking price during August. In the El Centro MSA, buyers paid 2.2 percent, or a median $2,479, more than asking price. In the Stockton MSA, buyers paid 1.3 percent more, or $2,515, the reports showed.

Negotiating power is a clear reflection of inventory levels, which dropped nationally in August. Tighter supply in some markets is translating into less of a discount off listing price, Stan Humphries, Zillow chief economist, said in a statement.

Unfortunately, the brisk spring and summer home shopping season is drawing to a close now, and with foreclosures on the rise again, inventory levels will likely head back up in the coming months, leading buyers' negotiating power to regain the ground it lost in August, he said.