The Wake Co. area is quite an anomaly... the average price of homes is increasing and values in general are appreciating (the average in Wake Co. across the board last year was 2.33%, according to the TARR Report). Appreciation rates are area and subdivision-specific, so it's hard to have a blanket statement for every neighborhood. I can research certain subdivisions for you if you're interested in knowing the appreciation rate there over the past 13 mos since we have access to that via the TARR Report. We can also show you which price ranges have the most inventory and which ones are still selling well.
The thing that has decreased here in this area is the total number of homes sold, but not necessarily the home values. Again, depending on the neighborhood, if there are foreclosures or short sales around, those can affect property values, but I think I remember hearing that it's less than 2% of all homes--not half the country as the media would have you believe.
The fact is that over 98% of home loans were current with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac around here, so we're not seeing the huge drops in value like other parts of the country because home pricing here never got out of hand and appreciation has been slow and steady for at least the past 18 years. Some neighborhoods have seen double digit appreciation while others may fall in the 1-5% range.
We've also found that homes aren't selling here because folks can't sell their other homes in other parts of the country. There are still over 80 people per day moving to Wake Co. because of its location, education system, job market, and opportunities for a lower cost of living as compared to other areas of the country.
As for predicting interest rates, those can change several times per day and no one can foresee what they'll be. When the Fed drops rates, it doesn't always have an effect on mortgage lending rates but rather the rates at which banks can lend to each other (which usually means less interest for us in our checking and savings accts). To get the most accurate rates, you'd need to speak with a lender. I have several reputable ones that you can talk to if needed.
As far as buyer incentives go, there is already an incentive that began for July of this year and goes through April of next year for a $7500 tax credit for first time homebuyers or those who haven't owned a home in 3 yrs. It's sort of like a tax-free loan in the form of less tax burden the year after you buy the house. The government reclaims it in the form of extra taxes at around $550 / yr for 15 yrs or the remainder is recaptured at closing if you sell.
There are still 100% financing options available depending on your bank. State Employees' Credit Union may have it and there's a USDA Rural Housing loan that has 100% options if you purchase in what's considered to be a rural area here. New construction homes are also throwing TONS of incentives at buyers right now trying to get inventory to move, so depending on price range, you could get quite a deal there. For the most part, however, in this area, the average list to sale price ratio is 97% and has been for years.
Hope this info helps. Please feel free to email me if you have more questions