Historically, one of the greatest allures of home ownership was that it represented a great way to build wealth. If you bought a house and hung on to it for 15 years, you could sell it for a huge profit. But now, in many parts of the world, instead of making money on their homes, people are losing a bundle. “Real estate is a two-headed hydra,” says Alan Silverstein, a Toronto real estate lawyer. “It’s a place to live as well as an investment. But the market isn’t red hot anymore. The only home you should be buying now is the one you can afford to carry.” During boom times, real estate is a marvelous way to build wealth. But booms never last forever, and over long periods of time, housing isn’t such a great investment. Yale University’s Robert Shiller, the world’s leading student of housing bubbles, famously found that over exceptionally long periods of time, such as between 1890 to 1990, the after-inflation rate of return on residential real estate is close to zero. What does this mean for you and I? That unless you plan on living in your current home for the foreseeable future, now is the time to get yourself into the situation you want to be in before the rates go up if you're thinking of buying, and before the prices go down if you're thinking of selling. Regardless of what you are leaning towards, educate yourself on what is going on in the market so you can make an educated decision and not react too late with everyone else because by then you would have missed the best rates and highest selling point.