Depends where you buy the real estate. In the US prices can go down (as mentioned above). There's too much land available to build on!! However, there are opportunities in every country, and utilizing sites such as Air BNB for rentals can give average joe the opportunity to own and benefit from a property in a city where housing is in constant demand due to shortage of supply. Buy in areas where there is short supply, and over demand, prices don't fluctuate too much. People always need somewhere to live. (think Europe)
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.
"Real Estate" is a broad category that could mean several different things. For example, I'm almost always a proponent of buying personal use real estate instead of renting your living space, but the advice varies if we're talking about commercial real estate, land, mineral rights, etc.... Generally speaking, making a speculative investment in real estate can have a few adverse components: 1) Liquidity - Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and ETFs can sold and turned into cash within a matter of days. This is valuable if an emergency comes up, if you have a short-term goal that you'll need to fund, or if you'd like to be tactical about which asset classes you'd like to be in. 2) Barriers to Entry - Buying real estate comes with costs (realtor fees, titling, insurance, etc.) Because of this there can be an aversion to exiting (selling) a real estate holding. These added costs only increase the amount of return you'll need to achieve in order to make this investment productive. There are other considerations that should be made like: how much leverage on the property (i.e. mortgage)? If renting the property, how do you feel about the tenant's ability to continue to pay the rent? What are the dynamics around the geographical location? ............ All of this being said, real estate can be a very good investment in different ways. My recommendation would vary depending on several factors surrounding your personal financial situation. Without further information I can't reasonably say anything more.
For informational purposes only. Not to be considered investment advice.
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