The simple answer is: Read what the people with money are reading. Follow what the people with money are doing.
The bottom of a real estate market is usually apparent only when things are already headed back up. Because the data reporting is for closed transactions, there is a lot of activity occuring before the supporting data can be identified. By the time most people can identify the bottom, the swing has already happened.
There is an article in Saturday's Wall Street journal titled, " It It Time To Buy? " In the article, RUTH SIMON and JESSICA SILVER-GREENBERG write about the indicators that are showing that the ever nebulous bottom is here or at least very very near. They include facts like interest rates being at a 50 year low, and how reporting of national distressed sales are skewing the data for stronger local real estate markets.
It seems that those in the know, always know when to buy. And, real estate pros know that you make your money in real estate when you buy - not when you sell. If those in the know are starting to buy again, because they know the data is starting to indicate a bottom, then those who are watching them and reading what they are reading are going to do the same. The Internet provides so much more information than just pictures of houses. If you are waiting for someone to tell you where the bottom is, you will miss it.
Once the tide has started to change, you need to act. If you buy at the beginning, you will be one of the ones saying, "I bought at the right time." Buy now and avoid the rush. Be one of the smiling leaders, rather than one of the wishing followers. Once rates and prices start rising again, there will be a lot of, "I wish I'd known."