Traditionally, housing was viewed as one of the safest, smartest investments average Americans can make. Then came the spectacular collapse of the housing marketing, and the overall economy in 2007-2008. Now, when financial experts talk about housing, they can’t seem to agree on whether buying a home is a smart investment or not.

But what most of these debates miss, is the fact that owning a home means not having to pay rent to live somewhere else. For people with stable jobs who are prepared to live in the same place for an extended period of time, that alone might make the most financial sense. Many Americans spend the equivalent of half their income or more on rent. Those who own a home can avoid that burden while putting money into an asset that generally grows in value over time.

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