As the real estate market melted down I became increasingly interested in getting into the market. Like many other military members, however, I really wasn't in a position to buy residential real estate and I didn't have the money to buy commercial properties...directly.
I looked for other options, and Ray Lucia, one of my favorite financial commentators, was singing the praises of real estate investment trusts.
Similar to mutual funds, REITS pool the investments of many in order to buy real estate. You can buy traded REITS and exchange traded funds investing in real estate through discount brokers. An example is the iShares Dow Jones Real Estate ETF (IYR).
That's exactly what I did. My investment in IYR has gone up more than 83%. Note that the year to date return is 21% (Jan 7, 2011).