Wow, what a roller coaster ride the last week has been! The Dow has been all over the place (okay, mostly down) the last few days, banks have folded, and many stockholders have been watching their depleting retirements drain away.
Okay, enough bad news, what's the good news?
These are the markets where fortunes are made, my friends. I believe it was Andrew Carnegie who said (in response to a query as to why he was so rich), "I buy my straw hats in the winter." Well, welcome to the blizzard. I find this quote particularly relevant since winter is also historically the lowest point of buyer activity in the real estate sales cycle.
But what does all this mean for buyers?
Fewer other buyers on the market + more sellers not getting their homes sold = more bargaining power for anyone who IS buying!
Now, of course the major challenge at present is financing, as the credit markets have seized up. But don't eliminate yourself before getting in the game. TALK to the banks, see if you can get pre-approved (pre-APPROVED, not just pre-qualified). Once you're pre-approved, it's time to go hunting for a deal. Remember you don't have to take the first thing that comes along. Be willing to walk away from deals that aren't realistic. But at the same time, educate yourself on the overall market for what you're buying. The truly great deals still disappear quickly, so you'll want to be able to spot a good deal when you see one.
From an investment standpoint, with no known end in sight to the current market conditions, you'll obviously want to pursue properties which can cash flow for you right away. Remember that there is more than one way to make money from a property. Ideally, if you are making money by renting it out for more than your mortgage plus expenses, that's great. And if you put enough down on a property, you can make this happen. But another way that your property helps make you money is through savings on your taxes. Always run this one by your accountant, but do not ignore the financial benefits of acquiring a significant writeoff. Saving money that would otherwise go to the tax man is another way to increase the overall financial picture.
Just remember to pencil it all out. Not every property is going to cash flow immediately, but the deals ARE out there, if you're willing to do your homework and walk away from the deals that don't pencil out, you can build your fortune in a market like this.