Fed Chairman Bernake recently says he believed that the recession is nearly over. Mortgage interest rates have seemed to level, and most believe that rates are as low as they are going to go. More buyers are looking at houses again, but they are VERY slow to act. There is still NO sense of urgency. Housing prices have dropped dramatically from their highs a few years ago, and so have rents. There is an abudance of apartments available - - - more than in years!
Are we at the absolute bottom? Probably not, since unemployment is still very high. However, historically employment rehiring tends to lag behind economic recovery! Most economists believe that much of this economic downturn has been "psychological" in the sense that it was a reaction to a reaction, more than a reaction to any type of specific event.
From a real estate point of view, we are probably very near bottom, and we should certainly begin to act accordingly. This buyers market will probably gradually turn to a balanced market within the next year, so serious and qualified buyers should heed this and begin their search in earnest. Remember it is never possible to catch the absolute bottom of any market!