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Why it's smarter to Buy than Rent    
The tax benefits help somewhat, but its the long-term gain in value thats crucial to building real wealth.

By Liz Pulliam Weston

Yup, the clich is true: Buying a home is one of the smartest financial decisions most people will ever make.

Dont take my word for it. Take the Federal Reserves. Its Survey of Consumer Finances has consistently found a huge gap between the wealth piled up by homeowners and that accumulated by renters.

 Average net worth of homeowners vs. renters
Annual income Owners Renters
$80,000 and up $451,200 $87,400
$50,000 to $79,999 $194,610 $25,000
$30,000 to $49,999 $126,500 $10,600
$16,000 to $29,999 $112,600 $4,240
Under $16,000 $73,000 $500
Source: VIP Forum, Federal Reserve Board

Home ownership builds wealth in two ways: through the forced savings of paying down a mortgage, and through appreciation -- the rise in the homes value over time.

The earlier you get in the game, the quicker you can get that appreciation working for you. The longer you wait well, the consequences can be stiff.

Youll always be poor
If you rent, youll always be poor, declares real-estate cheerleader and bestselling author David Bach, author of Smart Women Finish Rich and the upcoming The Automatic Millionaire Homeowner. The longer you rent, the less likely you are to buy. You fall further and further behind.

Video: Weston on "Why homeownership beats renting"

Bach may be indulging in a bit of hyperbole, but he has a point. Those who wait for the current housing boom to crash may be waiting a long time. Prices even in the most overheated markets could plateau or just rise more slowly in the future, maybe even returning to the 6% average annual gain the National Association of Realtors says is the norm nationally.


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