Wading Back Into Real Estate

CNBC Investor Guide to Spring Real Estate 2011
CNBC Investor Guide to Spring Real Estate 2011

Another spring, another burst of hope for a real estate market recovery. And, so for many, to list or not to list — that is the question.

It may be hard to believe, but real estate prices have been falling for five years now in America.

For-sale signs on lawns come and go like weeds, foreclosure signscast a pall on neighborhoods, and unfinished buildings turn into landmarks.

For some, houses have become a ball and chain, choking mobility; for others, a financial time bomb, threatening bankruptcy.

What's all the more frustrating for many homeowners is that while their biggest financial asset—and retirement nest egg—sits in limbo, the stock markethas come roaring back.

Amid all the doom and gloom, its hard for many to think of real estate as anything other than a money pit; for some, however, it is an opportunity, and, hopefully, a well of profit to be tapped.

It's the optimistic, even opportunistic, side we're focusing on in our annual special report, "Investor Guide to Spring Real Estate" and CNBC's forthcoming series of reports by "Realty Check'"blogger and TV correspondent Diana Olick. "Opportunity USA".

We plan to help you decide if the residential market is for you.

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Prospective buyers—first time or otherwise—may want to consider whether owning a home even makes senseand whether now is the time to do it. The real estate recession has challenged long-held assumptions about the investment equation.

Those who remain sold on real estate will find a series of articles on investing, from the active (single-family homes, apartment buildings) to the passive (home builder stocks, real estate investment trusts).

Homeowners and investors alike will want to peruse our tables on single-family home prices in key markets and municipalities around the nation, covering both the high-endand the middle of the road.

You'll also find slideshows covering a range of subjects, pollsand a quiz.And don't forget to check back on the days ahead, as we bring you a series of videos on what $750,000 will buy you in metropolitan areas around the country.