Buying new home questions

I already own a home, but absolutely suck at the buying/home upkeep/home process (as evidenced by the fact that I am now looking for a new place).

Few questions:

1. For anyone in the Twin Cities areas, what are thoughts regarding house pricing and where it will go in the next year or two. Southern metro area in general, Eagan, Apple Valley, Rosemount, and Plymouth/Minnetonka area as well. I don’t think we’ve seen the bubble as badly as Florida, California, etc., and won’t be upset if I don’t get great appreciation in the first few years, but don’t want to buy something that’s worth 30% less in the next year.

2. How the hell do you find contractors, etc. at reasonable prices? We need to fix up a lot of stuff to sell our current place. Nothing absolutely terrible, but things like new carpeting, hardwood refinishing, etc. Don’t ask me to do it myself, or I will accidentally nailgun my eye. I’m that bad with tools. Everytime I pick some names from the phonebook, I get quotes that even I am smart enough to know are outrageous (I’m also very bad at knowing when contractors are screwing me, etc.). Everyone says find good guys by referrals, but all my friends say, "I dunno, I haven’t been able to find one either."

Other advice is welcome.
I predict that the housing slump is not over yet….prices will continue to decline for another year or two, and lots of foreclosures will happen due to the 5/1, 7/1 ARMs getting jacked up rates.

Also, rising interest rates I predict will stifle new home purchases and force more people into renting.

Anyways, I am a current Saint Paul renter looking to buy in the next 5 years & am going to wait this slump out a bit before buying…

I already own a home, but absolutely suck at the buying/home upkeep/home process (as evidenced by the fact that I am now looking for a new place).

Few questions:

1. For anyone in the Twin Cities areas, what are thoughts regarding house pricing and where it will go in the next year or two. Southern metro area in general, Eagan, Apple Valley, Rosemount, and Plymouth/Minnetonka area as well. I don’t think we’ve seen the bubble as badly as Florida, California, etc., and won’t be upset if I don’t get great appreciation in the first few years, but don’t want to buy something that’s worth 30% less in the next year.

2. How the hell do you find contractors, etc. at reasonable prices? We need to fix up a lot of stuff to sell our current place. Nothing absolutely terrible, but things like new carpeting, hardwood refinishing, etc. Don’t ask me to do it myself, or I will accidentally nailgun my eye. I’m that bad with tools. Everytime I pick some names from the phonebook, I get quotes that even I am smart enough to know are outrageous (I’m also very bad at knowing when contractors are screwing me, etc.). Everyone says find good guys by referrals, but all my friends say, "I dunno, I haven’t been able to find one either."

Other advice is welcome.

When you have a contractor come do an estimate, have multiple come out at the same time so that they know you are shopping around and will give you their bottom dollar bid.