I'm going to assume you mean physical real estate, since you can get exposure to real estate via ETFs and individual stocks (most notably in the form of REITs). So, working under that assumption, it completely depends on what your goals are when you "invest" in the real estate. Are you going to purchase homes/condos/apartment buildings and become a landlord with an, ideally, steady flow of income offsetting the expenses? Are you trying to flip houses? Are you buying land with the hope that 20 years from now a developer will come in and pay you a lot of money for the acreage? Are you trying to buy into a hot market and turn around and sell the property a few weeks or months later? One of the many things that the 2008 crisis showed us was that real estate does not always go up, so it cannot be assumed that real estate will not go down now, or in the future. Like any other asset, there is no way to know with certainty whether the value will increase, decrease, or stay the same in the short-term. Additionally, there are usually substantial fees to buy and sell physical real estate (e.g. closing costs not the buying side, and commissions and other costs on the seller's side). Physical real estate is not a liquid asset (i.e. you cannot buy or sell it on a known market at the click of a button like you can with stocks or ETFs). There are usually fairly substantial carrying costs associated with real estate in the form of insurance (you would probably want to carry insurance even if you own a plot of land in case someone gets injured on it or something like that) and property taxes (that will increase with the increase in property value). So those are some things to consider when looking to invest in real estate. Just like a stock, ETF, bond, etc., real estate can be a very good investment, but it can also be a very poor investment. You have to think about the reasons that you are "investing" in the real estate and whether that makes sense for your situation in both the short and long-term.
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