The housing market over the last two years has received a major beat-down. Put it this way; if the housing market were a sports franchise, it would be the Detroit Lions--zero wins, sixteen losses last year. One fan even tried to claim the team as a "total loss" on his tax return. But 2009 has shown some improvement--both the Lions and the housing market are picking themselves up and moving on.

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Today, foreclosures are sky-high, home prices are at rock bottom, and mortgage interest rates are as low as we've ever seen them. It's a bonanza for buyers.

But the housing market has been subtly changing, and if you've been sitting on the fence instead of buying, chances are that's where you'll stay--on the fence, while everyone else is sitting in a nice house. All this government stimulus is changing the tide of the economy, and the signs are there.

Look at these housing facts:

  1. The number of existing home sales is up significantly in many markets.
  2. The supply of new homes for sale is down by 40%.
  3. Pending home sales are as high as they've been since 2006.
  4. Home prices are increasing in most US markets.

The days of holding sellers' feet to the fire are nearly over. If you bought your home in February 2009, congratulate yourself--you found the official bottom of the market. Both home prices and mortgage rates were in the basement that month. Since then, things have gradually moved to the sellers' advantage, and they are feeling their power.

The problem with trying to find the bottom of the market is that you don't really know it's there until it has passed. But it hasn't been that long--today, mortgage rates remain low and home prices have a lot farther to climb. Home buying conditions may not be as perfect as they were back in February, but they're still excellent, and a lot better than you'll find next year. Keep in mind too that mortgage rates are on the increase, and most experts expect that they will hit 6% sometime next year.

What about people with bad credit? You need to start with a conversation with an experienced loan officer, find out what you can qualify to buy now, and what you can do to improve your position later. Even bad credit mortgage rates are comparatively low, and it might be better to buy a cheap house now at a higher interest rate, and then refinance into a lower rate later when you have improved your credit. Enlist the help of a good credit counselor and a loan agent and get started before the housing bust passes you by.