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Better off renting or buying?

Ownership responsibilities take some by surprise

The push for an ever-increasing homeownership rate in this country recently led to a huge housing bubble, followed by a tsunami of foreclosures and declining home prices. Lax lender qualifications a few years ago fueled a run-up in home prices that couldn't last. It left many homeowners who bought beyond their means with damaged credit -- and without a home. Homeownership has been the American Dream. But owning a home isn't for everyone. Factors often not taken into consideration by homebuyers: homeownership requires a lot of time, effort and a financial commitment that go beyond merely paying your principal, interest, property taxes and insurance. In order to preserve the value of your property, you need to keep it in good condition. There's routine maintenance like clearing debris from the roof, gutters and downspouts. And occasionally there are larger projects to deal with, like replacing an entire roof or painting the exterior. Homeowners often don't budget for these ex...

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