Doesn't Hurt to Look, But to Buy ...

Many renters are being tempted to look at buying, whether it's because of the first-time buyer tax credit, the low interest rates or the low prices. And there's certainly no harm in looking.

Even in New York City, where it is estimated that 70 percent of the population rents, some long-time renters are considering buying. Even tenants with so called "rent control" are taking the plunge, according to a recent New York Times article.

In one scenario, a man who is renting for just $725 a month is considering moving. The first reason is he wants to move anyway, and if he rented at a new location, he'd probably double his rent anyway. Also, at 61, he wants a building with an elevator and a doorman, so he's willing to pay a little more for certain amenities.

For some one on a fixed income, buying probably makes sense, as 30-year mortgage helps to keep costs from rising.