Joey, In my opinion, this is a fantastic time to buy, especially in the Montrose, Colorado area, if it makes financial sense in your situation. Right now, home prices remain flat, with minimal depreciation, and there is a fair amount of inventory to allow you to be choosey. And of course, interest rates are at historical lows, which gives you more buying power. Here are additional reasons I keep hearing from national and local pundits for buying now: (1) lower-priced inventory will get bought up first. As such inventory disappears, that will tend to increase the values of remaining inventory, since there is less competition, and builders are not building new homes right now, or, not as many; (2) lenders are continuing to tightnen qualification criteria (e.g., minimum credit scores), in some cases, significantly, making it harder to qualify for the loan amount you may need, or any loan amount, for that matter; and (3) interest rates may or may not see any further significant reduction in the near future, while the opposite may be true within the next 6 months to a year, which, of course, reduces your buying power. Even if they do drop some more, you can play the timing game as to when to "lock" your loan--be sure you get a savvy, attentive lender to watch the market and advise. Other reasons from my perspective is that Montrose and the Colorado Western Slope in general are some of the fastest growing areas of the country, both residentially and commercially. This area is a "destination" place that attracts residents, investors, developers, retirees, and second home owners, because of the quality of life and the fact real estate is still relatively affordable. That will change as more people relocate and buy real estate here.
As long as you treat your real estate purchase as a long-term investment, it should be a good one if you buy now, since I project you will see some respectable appreciation in real estate values within the next 5 years. In the meantime, you'll enjoy the tax benefits of real estate ownership not availble to other investments, such as being able to right off mortgage interest and property taxes, (avoid or reduce capital gain tax upon sale, depending on the circumstances), and as an investment, produce income (rent) and write off depreciation. See your tax advisor for more information about these benefits. Of course, one of the most important benefits is fulfilling the dream of home ownership, having something that belongs to you to do with as you please, and not have to answer to a landlord and pay somebody else's mortgage payment.
If you're serious about buying, your first step should be getting a copy of your credit report and score, I suggest from all 3 credit reporting bureaus (Transunion, Experian, and Equifax). Then, meet with a reputable, competent lender who can pre-qualify you, i.e., tell you how much of a loan you could get, which, in turn ,will tell you the maximum house you can afford to buy. You may decide to buy less. And you may discover there is some credit damage to repair that you can work on before you are ready to buy. Your next step is to team up with a competent real estate professional who can advise you as to the market and match you with appropriate prospects to see if the home of your choice exists, then guide you through the buying process once you find your perfect home. Bear in mind it could take you 6 months to get through this process, and to become familiar with the market. So, don't wait to start looking and preparing yourself to buy when the timing is right and the right house comes along. Good luck!