For those who need more income than what CDs can provide but are worried about the stock market, real estate is an alternative. Low interest rates and a housing market that may be at the bottom could make it a good investment. But it's not without risks and hassles as this WSJ article describes
But aspiring property owners need to watch out for a slew of traps. Among them: prolonged vacancies, surprise costs, deadbeat tenants, difficulty refinancing and overestimating the rental potential.