If you are comparing the home sales activities from the late '90's to the 2007, it does seem like we are at a standstill. The number of homes selling in Fort Bragg has really dropped as have their sales prices. In a nutshell, sellers are unwilling to sell for less than they owe. Buyers are having a harder time qualifying for loans. Banks have all but stopped lending money and the two biggest institutions responsible for buying loans originated by banks and loan brokers, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, have increasingly more stringent rules for borrowers, loan brokers and sellers to get their homes to qualify. Add to that progressively more jobs are being lost in our already economically challenged rural area and you have a perfect storm where multiple elements have converged to cause the market to tank. Increasingly, REO's (bank-owned properties) are what are selling. Since the banks want them off their books they are selling them at a discount. The downward spiral of value further is exacerbated when sellers want to market their home at fair market value but comparable sales of similar distressed properties drag down their home's value. Don't forget to factor in the seasonal nature of home sales in our tourist-driven area. Despite all the gloom, though, there is one great ray of hope. Homes in our area have not been as affordable as they now are in over ten years. If you can qualify for a loan, rates that have gone lower than five percent make this the best time to be a buyer in as long as anyone can remember.