In 2008, the collapse of the overheated real estate market nearly toppled the global economy. Four years later, real estate as an asset class is rebuilding its image by providing much needed stability and diversity for investors. With low property prices, cheap financing and yields that are better than most bonds, the attractions are many, despite the inherent downsides.

"If you remember where yields were four or five years ago, you didn't have to go to real estate for a reasonable return," says Peter Boyle, principal and chief investment officer of Clifford Swan Investment Counsel in Pasadena, Calif. Like many other planners, Boyle is adding real estate to his clients' portfolios.

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