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Real Estate's New Rules

Whether you are trying to buy a house or sell a house, the real estate industry has changed so dramatically over the past two years that you have to learn a whole new set of rules. We've spoken to experts ranging from real estate agents to economists to uncover the key factors that will help you succeed in a market that's gotten tougher for everyone, no matter what side of the transaction you're on. Sure, buyers benefit from the fact that prices have fallen 30 percent — but you can't take advantage of that move unless you've got good credit and a hefty down payment. And who knew that no matter how healthy your finances, if too many tenants in a condo are late in paying their assessments, the bank will deny you a mortgage.

What will happen to real estate values in a post-crash world of high debt, high taxes, and slow economic growth? We explain the rule changes that affect buyers most. Selling a house? You may need to learn a few new ways to work with your real estate agent for a faster sale. (And if you want to dump the agent altogether and go it alone, we've put together a few tricks for "for sale by owner" deals.)

MoneyWatch blogger Ilyce Glink, author of Buy, Close, Move In!, checks out the current market for $625,000 homes (and $250,000 ones, and some $35,000 investor specials). Finally, she lists the biggest real estate mistakes she's seeing now — and offers some advice on how you can avoid them.

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