Anchor Intro: Owning your own home -- an idea so popular it's known as the American dream. But as prices fall and foreclosures rise, for many it's become a nightmare. How do you know whether renting or owning is the way to go? Bankrate.com dives deeper into this question.
Voice over 1: In today's tumultuous real estate market, ask two experts whether you should buy a house or rent one and you might get two different answers.
SOT: "I can't imagine too many scenarios where renting would be preferable to buying."
SOT: "Depending on the local market conditions, it may be advantageous to rent -- especially if there's a good rental supply at a reasonable price."
Voice over 2: There are calculators on Bankrate.com that can help you answer the rent versus own question, so check them out. But the single most important factor? How long you're going to stay put.
Voice over 3: To ride out the ups and downs, the ideal homeowner will be staying put at least four years. They'll also have good credit -- bad credit means higher interest and higher payment. Owning can cost 35 percent more than renting, so a cash cushion is a must. Also important? Being able to deduct mortgage interest; not everybody can.
Voice over 4: Beyond the math, there are also other considerations, like freedom and spare time: Owners have a lot less of both than renters. But owners can also customize their house the way they want, and enjoy pride of ownership.
Standup: What about the bad housing market? Well, if you meet the criteria, don't let the headlines scare you. Low prices, low interest rates and desperate sellers mean better deals. And markets don't go down forever. For Bankrate.com, I'm Kristin Arnold.