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Renting May Be the New American Dream

Owning a home may be the ultimate symbol of financial stability, but there are plenty of reasons to keep renting.

Now that home prices have tumbled from their highs, more people are trying to take advantage of the weak economy and buy a house. Before jumping in, it's important to remember that home ownership can increase your living costs and tie up your cash. Consider these six potential issues:

Financial risks: Contrary to popular belief, home prices don't always go up. Even if prices decline at double-digit rates, it's impossible to know if prices will rebound or keeping falling.

Getting stuck: Most people who purchase a house plan to live in that city for a significant amount of time. What they often don't realize is that if circumstances change, they might be stuck if they want to move.

For example, if you lose your job, it might make sense to move to an area with more professional opportunities. However, if the city in which you live is in decline, it may be tough to sell your house. While it's easy to pack your things and move out of a rented apartment, selling property requires more planning and time.

Maintenance: Owning a house requires regular repairs and upkeep, which landlords typically take care of when you rent. Delaying maintenance when you own isn't always an option.

Longer commutes: Houses becomes more affordable the further away they are from a city. If you must move to distant suburbs to be able to buy a home, your commuting expenses would likely rise along with the time it takes to get to work each day.

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