Rates: Loan rates are the lowest since the early 1950s. However, getting money is more difficult than it has ever been. Get pre-approved.
RIPs: NINJA loans (No Income No Job or Assets), multiple offers on $5 million homes, mortgage brokers, new home builders.
Jobs: Lack thereof will continue to drag on the real-estate market in California. Social networking is the new engine driving growth in SV.
Rents: As the job market has improved, rents have increased. Oddly, rents declined steeply after the Y2K recession, but not this time.
Prices: Buyers are waiting for a double dip. In Silicon Valley that is available at several up-and-coming gelaterias but not in real estate.
Best deal: The house you can afford in the area you want to live. Still one of the best opportunities to save money and build wealth.
Real estate marketing: Websites for each listing, Twittering for clients, open house parties, Facebook networking and Craigslist.
New law: Lenders and Realtors providing longer and more confusing disclosures than ever, leading most borrowers and buyers to skip reading.
Staging: Buyers are starting to laugh at the napkins in wine glasses. Sellers are less willing to pay for staging homes that will take months to sell.
Remodeling: The profession of all contractors that are left. More unlicensed contractors looking to do it for cheap. Watch out, this is illegal.
Building permits and fees: Going up significantly. Cities that are scrambling for money will require you do a site plan to install a new toilet.
New disclosures: High pressure gas line locations, high-speed rail, foreclosures in the neighborhood, decline in City services.
Sales volume: Down 30-40% this year versus 2006. Returning to normal levels historically as bubble-level sales are a thing of the past.
Passe': 6% commissions, team agents, Zillow's Z-value, McMansions, spec builders, bidding more than list, moving up.
What's hot: Downsizing, home automation, solar cells, xeriscaping, renovation, 15-year mortgages, refinancing, home gardens and LEDs.