I have been talking about market analysis and how asking prices are unreliable. As some of you mentioned, a lot of the data I use is public. For the do-it-yourselfers, here is the next set of questions that come to mind before making an offer. Good buyer’s agents ask these, and some others:

Local trends:
Is there suddenly a lot of sales in a complex? or in a neighborhood? This could indicate a special assessment or neighborhood problem.
Is the town and neighborhood stable? going down? going up?
What is average time on the market and how is this house fairing?
What is the price drop history?
Are there lots of places like this sitting on the market?

Then find out what you can about the sellers.
Have they moved? What are their carrying costs? Are they in foreclosure or pre-foreclosure? Is there a reason they need to sell fast, or can they sit there with their silly-inflated price until some fool buys the place?

If you know this stuff, you can negotiate from an informed and powerful place.