DEAR BENNY: I rent an apartment in California's Silicon Valley, where my job is. I can't afford a home here because prices average around $600,000. I believe I can afford to buy a house elsewhere while living here and paying rent. Is this a good idea, and can I still avoid PMI with a 20 percent down payment? --Todd DEAR TODD: I do not think that's a good idea. I believe that consumers should first buy a home for their own personal use, and then consider becoming a landlord. There are several reasons for my position. First, not everyone wants to be a landlord. There are good tenants and not-so-nice ones. If you haven't seen the movie "Pacific Heights," I recommend it to you. While the movie clearly involves an extreme situation, it highlights many of the problems that landlords ...
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