Should I buy real estate at the top of the market?

Long-range buyers may have the upper hand

Learn the New Luxury Playbook at Luxury Connect | October 18-19 at the Beverly Hills Hotel

Buying a first home is a scary experience. It's easy to imagine the worst. How will I know a good house when I see it? What if I buy a house I can't sell? How can I make sure I'm making a good investment? What if I pay too much and home prices drop? After years of hefty home-price appreciations, it's natural to wonder how long the good times will last. Real estate markets are cyclical: prices go up and they go down. However, over the long term in this country, prices have tended to move higher. At the end of the 1970s, after a big run up in home prices, real estate agents had a hard time believing that prices could go any higher. The market did cool in the early 1980s. But today home prices are three to four times higher than they were then in some parts of the country. HOUSE HUNTING TIP: To protect yourself when you buy a home, adopt a long-range horizon. Don't buy unless you plan to hold the property for at least 5-10 years. This way you can ride out any downturns in the market and...