What's up with Francesca's answer - wow...
Alvi - Call Wade Munday, "Atlanta's Hard Money Lender" at PeachStone Capital.
Check the web reference for a link to his FAQ's - he makes hard money lending very easy to understand.
And Franscesca, get real - Robert Schiller stated in a Newsweek article on 12/30/09 that "my data show that between 1890 and 1990 real home prices actually didn't increase."
Real estate values follow inflation, unless bubbled by funny money...check out the article from one of today's leading real estate thinkers...