Re: real estate
I used to work as an accountant for a small commercial real estate brokerage firm in the Dallas area. They did some residential on the side, but primarily commercial. This was the mid 80's right when the savings and loan markets fell.
What everyone has said so far is true. Decide on what you want to sell - residential or commerical - and have about 10 - 12 months of savings to live on, since you will be paid commission only and it'll take some time to build up your contacts. The people who work hard and put forth the effort and are serious about it will be the ones who do well and can make a living. The ones who attend seminars where they only promote "how to get rich" books and think they too can get rich by only reading a few books will fail.
What I gathered from working at the firm was all of the salesmen there were good at selling ANYTHING - cars, houses, office space, newspapers, anything. They had the salesman's touch. They could sell ice to eskimos. They not only knew the market, but also they knew how to read people and their feelings, thoughts, etc.
First get a real estate license, then if you want to sell or buy, you'll be in good shape to work when the market turns around.
I don't aim to be the best, just the best looking.