Right now we are the low end of the market and it is anybody's guess when the real estate market will recover. There are two many competing variables (i.e. job loss, credit crunch, etc, etc.) . However, unlike other markets in the US, I believe that this market will recover faster than others and is shielded from the worst because there are so many stable govt jobs and military bases in the area. What is good news, is that there are a lot of investors jumping back into the market at the moment--which shows their confidence that the market will recover. My own personal opinion is that you will be able to make a decent return in 3-5 years--without a doubt. However, no matter when you buy, there is always a risk. For people that bought right before the height of the market did so thinking it was a strong market. Little did they know the market would crash a few months later.
To reduce your risk, buy in an area that is high in demand. Personally, I would also look at townhouses instead of condos and SFH. They are more affordable for the greater number of buyers and usually do not have the high monthly fees like condos. If you do buy condos, work with an agent that specializes in condos who will have a much better idea of how that particular market is doing.