Let’s face it: real estate isn’t where it used to be and it’s still a ways from getting there. You’d be hard-pressed, though, to find a unilateral opinion on what’s next for real estate exchange traded funds (ETFs).

Call it A Tale of Two Opinions, with apologies to Charles Dickens.

Thumbs Down. Although the real estate market is showing the roots of a new beginning, ETF investors may want to hold off for now, says Mark for iStockAnalyst. The numbers, he says, are just far too gloomy:

  • Pulte Group (NYSE: PHM) reported a loss of $116.9 million, but at least revenue was sharply higher at $1.73 billion. Pulte is an especially large holding in iShares Dow Jones U.S. Home Construction (NYSEArca: ITB), which 6.4% of the weight.
  • The National Association of Home Builders recently said its housing-market index remained flat at 16 in January. A number above 50 indicates optimism, so…ouch.

Thumbs Up. Andrew Jeffry for Minyanville is way more bullish. Among his 10 reasons to believe in a rally are an improving job market, pent-up demand, an improving stock market, low interest rates and more confidence in the economic recovery.

What to make of it? The only real answer comes from looking at the trend lines, and ITB and SPDR S&P Homebuilders (NYSEArca: XHB) are both well above theirs. If you’ve got the stomach and are aware that this recovery could continue to be a choppy one, then take your pick.

ITB takes a more homebuilder-focused approach, while XHB incorporates home-improvement retailers into the mix. Despite the doom and gloom, both funds are fairly neck-and-neck in terms of performance.

Tisha Guerrero contributed to this article

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.