Buy vs. Rent: Borrowers' Rights

Is it smarter to rent or buy?
Is it smarter to rent or buy?

Until the housing crisis of the late 2000s, buying a home was equated with making a prudent real estate investment, especially if you were set on putting down your roots in one place for the next 15 to 30 years. But then conventional wisdom was defied. Over the past few years, homeowners entangled in risky, high-rate mortgages saw values plummet, foreclosures hit all-time highs, and soaring unemployment lead to more underwater mortgages and homes lost.

Fast-forwarding to today, many of us -- tainted by this experience -- are conflicted by the "rent vs. buy" debate. While there are uncertainties and exceptions, this guide will help you determine what's best for your own situation. (By the way, your circumstances probably aren't the same as those of your friend, who just bought a McMansion with 5 percent down).