Speculation (or speculative investment) is an investment made with expectations of considerable appreciation in the prices of some asset (e.g. real estate property, stocks, etc). Speculative investment is a norm in booming real estate markets, though we can't really differentiate between a speculative investment and a standard investment, as both of them looks quite similar on paper. It is actually the risk level and more importantly the investor's thought pattern, which helps us in differentiating between both of them. Speculations are more like a gamble in which investor's intuition plays a significant role.
Real Estate speculation can be a result of rumors, guesswork, or just the gut feeling of investors ... when they sense some abnormal hikes in prices or demand in near future, they'll buy and try to take advantage of this anticipated appreciation in prices by reserving some homes, offices or land to turn a profit in future. The most recent example of this speculative investment was witnessed in Dubai real estate market, where the huge difference in demand and supply provoked speculative investments, which in turn raised the property prices quite abnormally.
Advantages and Disadvantages:
Speculations are not based on sound analysis; therefore the investment decision that is based on mere assumptions can turn out to be rather destructive, both for investors and also for the overall economy. However, speculation also contributes into the economy in a positive way. For example, speculators absorb the risk and supply the market with much needed capital; these investors gamble with their money and inject liquidity into the financial market, whereas the more watchful investors are holding their money. The biggest criticism made on speculative investment is that these investors add no value to the market or the product itself. These investments are merely buying and flipping, just for the sake of making quick profits, giving an abnormal boost to property prices that may cause a "real estate bubble", inevitably followed by a crash.
As a real estate investor, you will be tempted by many speculative investment opportunities. However, you need to play it safe when putting your money on some property, located at an undeveloped area or land. Speculative investment made in haste is dicey. Remember, if it goes wrong, you'll be losing a considerable amount. Therefore, you need to back your guesswork by doing some research and at least basic analysis. Another thing to remember, speculative investments in real estate markets are best in the earliest stages of real estate boom, as the market is less likely to crash at this stage.