Downside: Fewer homes for sale
The biggest downside is the limited supply of for-sale homes, which occurs mainly because sellers are so uninterested.
"You won't have tons of inventory to pick through," Deihl warns.
If you can't find a home you like, you might be able to tap into homes that aren't on the market, says Ken Pozek, a real estate agent at Keller Williams Realty in Northville, Mich.
One strategy is to research what brokers call "old expires," which refers to homes that were for sale several years ago but weren't sold at that time.
Another approach is for the broker to send letters to homeowners in your preferred neighborhood, trawling for someone who's willing to sell a home that meets your criteria.
A third technique is to call brokers who sell a lot of homes in your target area and ask them about homes that aren't yet listed, but are being prepped for sale and are "coming soon."
"If they make the right calls to the right agents, they will trip over those deals," Pozek says.