Hello and welcome.
I recently wrote a blog on lenders and tried to put into laymans terms some of what has happened over the last few years. Linked here http://activerain.com/blogsview/180021/Run-chicken-little-RUN .
Bill Burress ( » Bill Burress Florida Mortgage Broker) commented on the domino effect the falling and failing sub-prime lenders has had on other lenders. (Thanks for the comment Bill.) He was absolutely right, and I had missed it. Here is an article http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/070829/expensive_homes.html?.v=2 on another ripple effect the sub-primes failing has created. Now that mortgage demand is off, and people are not applying for loans out of fear and/or disinterest, what is going to happen? Well I do not have a crystal ball. Even if I did, it would be for decoration.
The real estate and lending fields have some great times coming up. The banks are going through an adjustment and the phrase I have been hearing and using lately is 'the pendulum swings both ways'. As the previous post mentions, lenders had more money to lend and looser requirements in the previous 2-3 years than they do now. Now the requirements are tightening, but not as dramatically as I made it sound. FHA loans are going to be very helpful to many people. There are programs for new home buyers that actually help! Thats awesome. I had WRONGLY said, "the old rules (10-20% down, debt to income ratios, etc etc) flew out the window." That was VERY WRONG, because as my friends in the lending world educated me (thanks Gary-> http://activerain.com/gmiljour ), there are 97% programs and even 100% financing. What I should have said was you are NOT going to get a loan if you are not willing to document your income. That stinks for some people, real estate agents come to mind. Wait staff and tipped positions, decide now what you want to do in 2 years. If you declare all your tips, it may knock you into a new tax bracket, but it may also allow you to apply for a loan. Note- I believe we (Maricopa and Pinal counties) will have climbing prices again before then. Another area I was WRONG about was 10-20% down. Thats not a professional rule, just a personal one. You will get a different rate and be in a much stronger buying position with that much cash saved up, but the strategies you may actually use that money for may have nothing to do with putting the money into the home you buy. For more strategies you can contact Gary, who is linked above. HUGE DUH NOTE -> CONTACT loan people NOW, if you are thinking about buying in the this lifetime. I don't care if you are 18 and just getting started. The strategies and credit control information these professionals can lay on you in 5 minutes can mean the difference between renting and owning, on the same amount of income. I need to sit with them again and again as my personal financial picture fluctuates, so if you have NO IDEA how you are going to get from A (into a rental?) to B (owning property and investing into your future) or any step between, let these guys help. Thats what they do.