Whichever suits your needs and finances better.
Sorry; I know that's not as specific as you'd probably like.
But--based on your question--if you can only afford to purchase something costing $30,000 or less and you don't like what's available, then renting might be your better choice. On the other hand, if you can afford to spend more--if, for instance, you could afford $40,000 and there are some nice, acceptable properties in that price range--then you might want to consider spending a bit more.
Don't worry about what's going to happen to the markets. You ask "Smarter to buy or rent now?" First, no one knows. Second, you shouldn't be in it for the short-term, anyway. No one in today's market should be looking at a 2-year, 3-year, or 4-year time frame. Prices may decline some more. They may be flat. Or, in some markets, they'll likely go up a bit. But figure on holding on to a purchase for 5+ years. At least.
If you think you're going to need some of the money you'd be spending, then don't buy. Only you know the answer to that. But if you have a trusted accountant or tax advisor, run that question past him/her. Make sure you have enough available cash or liquid assets to handle any problems or emergencies that might come up. Definitely do not depend on your real estate purchase to provide additional cash if, at some point, you may need it.
I hope that helps.