Markets & Economy

The X factor in the buy vs. rent equation: How long will you stay?

Reader poll: How long do you need to own a home for it to pencil out?

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A home is the biggest purchase many people will ever make, and because home values can move abruptly in either direction, homebuyers are often advised to think of a prospective home primarily as a place. If it also happens to turn out to be a good investment, that's icing on the cake. Even when home prices march steadily upward, it still takes time to for homebuyers who have financed a purchase with a mortgage to recoup their investment. Transaction costs -- like mortgage origination fees and title insurance on the front end, and real estate brokerage commissions on the back end -- can add up to 10 percent or more of a home's purchase price. The way mortgages are structured, most of a homebuyers initial loan payments are going toward interest, rather than principal. online poll by Opinion Stage // A homebuyer who has to sell their home too quickly can lose money -- even if it has increased in value. So homebuyers, particularly first-timers, are often advised to t...