I keep coming back to the stock market and our involvement with it even as small scale investors contributing what we can to our 401k's and IRA's. I'm thinking about this in relation to the investment of buying a home.
For many, many years, almost all people would agree that home ownership was part of a diverse plan to retire with something more than just your good name. At the same time, for many years people have contributed to a company sponsored 401K, or 403B and/or their own Traditional or ROTH IRA.
Just like the real estate market, the stock market has had some tough days over the past couple years, but people continue to invest. They know it will fluctuate but they accept that since they're in it for the long haul. Plus they feel that chances are pretty good that they're buying fairly low. Maybe not at the bottom but still low enough to make them some money as the stocks get back to growth. They understand what can happen in a few good years in the market.
So what's going on with real estate? People seem to be waiting, waiting, waiting. Prices (and soon to be vanishing low interest rates) are near the bottom. Is it the lowest it will be? Probably not, but the remaining decline will be dwarfed by interest rates if they just climb to 6 or 6.5%. Click here and scroll down to the third story for an explanation: http://www.nategerard.com/atj/user/AdditionalGetAction.do?pageId=285239
If you look at buying right now, with some patience, you have an excellent opportunity to make good money despite the fluctuations in the real estate market - just like investing for your retirement!