First, get to know your local market. FInd out about foreclosures there. Do research and find out about bad loans made that will reset through 2012. Second, realize that house prices have an inverse ratio to interest rates. As interest rates rise house prices will fall. Going from 5% to 7% interest on a mortgage will remove 23.9% of buying power. That means a $200k mortgage will now only buy about $152k for the same monthly payment. Paying cash this will help you a lot.
Things to find out about foreclosures.. This can and likely will affect all house prices.
By the numbers does it make more sense for you to rent or buy? Realtor costs (when selling)and closing costs (when buying) add together take a lot of cash from you. One realtor said it was about 12% of the purchase price. It may be more or less.
Why renting could be the best decision even if buying appears cheaper. A very different way to look at things below.
A way to look at interest rates when deciding to buy a house. Consider everything inside including the opposing ideas in the comments.
A basic overview of the house buying process. SImple and easy to understand.
Not to be found elsewhere. Questions that if asked can help you to avoid problems you would not even think of before buying a house. This is based on problems I have come across or read about.
Consider what the site below says.
The downturn in Kenosha came after new subdivisions sprang up all over the community during the national real estate boom. The financial crisis stopped home builders in their tracts and they haven't recovered yet. The long protracted downturn has slowed the local economy as it impacts as much as 40% of related industries, including home construction, retail sales and lumber.
Wisconsin residents are hearty people, who have a passion for the love of their state's outdoors. The government may give the area a boost with extra stimulus packages as Kenosha is forecast to sustain average housing deflation of 5.8% through 2010.
The place to start for step one is to decide to you want to add a mortgage or just pay cash. If using a mortgage also see a lender. If cash only set your limit and include costs for inspections, appraisals (no need to pay to much), title search and insurance (a necessity), a CLUE report (insurance history of the property), paying the lawyer fees and to register the deed. (I may have left out a few things.)
Once you have a number in mind that you will buy up to that amount start to interview a few real estate agents. Then see what the story is in your area and when ready make offers (one at a time).