Yes thats what real estate is all about, it can give you big bucks within a short time but can take them away in the same time as well.
Like one of the guys i know used to have 58 properties in uk itself but now he rents a 2 bedroom aprtment in London and is struggling to pay his debts off.
He had major losses because he kept on doing developments in the time of recession and when the market saw a real slump, the property prices went down like anything he was left with nothing.
So my advice to all the investors at this point of time would be to look for a regular income from thier investments either going for a Capital growth.
And wait for the right time when market gets up.