To buy or to rent: The great homeownership debate

Have you heard? Owning a house is an investment, except that it’s really not. Home ownership is a vital wealth-building tool, aside from the fact that it’s financial suicide. Historically, the returns for owning a home outpace stocks, although actually they don’t.

Homeownership used to be an accessible, affordable option. But after a financial crisis that sent home values tumbling, and with home prices now reaching astronomical levels due to a housing shortage, things have changed a lot just in the past decade. Finding an affordable home can mean moving away from jobs and increasing commute times, which explains the rise of “supercommuters” across the U.S.

Is owning a home is still worth it? The answer depends on whom you ask, what inputs are included in their model, and their general disposition toward investing—and the answer will almost always be “it depends.”

There are plenty of online tools available to help you assess whether your current financial circumstances would render a monthly mortgage payment lower than your monthly rent. But there are many more factors to consider before you make what will likely be the largest purchase in your lifetime. We’ve tried to simplify the arguments for and against. If you’re a renter who is struggling to wrap your head around this question, here are two dueling perspectives on the great debate of homeownership.

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