Real-estate as an alternative to gold?

Inflation is back on the radar, and the world economy is still a bit wobbly with quantitative easing here and sovereign debt crisis there, so it’s no wonder some investors worry about not loosing their shirt and turn to gold as not just a new bubble to ride but as a form of wealth protection. Being a “hard asset”, real-estate can also be seen as a form of wealth protection: after all, no matter how bad the economy gets, a house remains a house (well, assuming property laws are still enforced, which historically hasn’t always been the case). It has often been argued that the Chinese real-estate bubble is caused by local investors trying to preserve their capital from high inflation and who lack other investment alternatives, could it be the case in other countries as well ?
Colin Tan explore this angle:

Talking about the real estate market with many investors over this period, it dawned on me that we are seeing the emergence of a new breed of property buyers. Unlike your traditional owner-occupier or investor buyer who focuses on yields and capital gains, the top priority of this group of buyers is wealth preservation.

They know that a correction in property prices will take place sooner or later as the market is cyclical in nature and that the more bullish the run-up is, the deeper will be the decline. What they want in an asset is something that will allow them to ride through the crisis, notwithstanding the inevitable losses.