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Real Estate: Why the Time to Buy Is Now

The housing market appears to be suffering a double dip, the most recent employment numbers were awful, and Congress is playing chicken with the debt ceiling. Our conclusion? It's time to buy real estate.

In keeping with our proud contrarian tradition at CBS MoneyWatch, we are looking past the latest headlines at the big picture. And the big picture is that interest rates are ridiculously low, housing prices have crashed, and in a growing number of communities it is actually cheaper to buy a house than to rent one.

To be sure, you'll have to follow the new rules of real estate, as laid out by our real estate expert, Ilyce Glink. We're certainly not suggesting you start flipping condos in Miami. In fact, as blogger Kathy Kristof explains, there are a lot of good reasons not to be a landlord. The first and best role of a house is shelter, and historically stocks are a better investment. But you can't live in stocks, and besides, the market has nearly doubled since March, 2009. Why not buy the asset that's 30 percent cheaper?

If you want to add some real estate to your portfolio, be cautious about real estate investment trusts, which have been on a tear in recent years. Instead, suggests blogger Dan Burrows, consider a more diversified portfolio. For our comprehensive guide to the new real estate market, read on.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user The-Tim

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