This guide to making the big decision by a real estate reporter is "a truly balanced look at an emotional subject . . . plenty of tips to keep you above water" (Mint.com). When it comes to real estate, renting vs. owning is always a big decision—not just whether to take the plunge, but when. The housing market can be volatile, and purchasing a home may be one of the biggest investment decisions you'll ever make. This guide offers a reality check that cuts through all the hype and helps you decide whether to buy now or keep renting. Expert finance and real estate reporter Jane Hodges, who has written for the Wall Street Journal, Seattle Times, and other top publications, explains how the housing market works and breaks down all the pros and cons of buying and renting—because contrary to popular belief, buying isn't the best choice in every situation. With dozens of success stories and cautionary tales from real-life renters and owners across the country, this indispensable manual gives confused consumers the tools to make the right decision for their budget, market, personal needs, and future.