It’s pretty simple, really: Take the purchase price (or current value) of your house, divide it by the annual cost of renting a similar home, and you’ll come up with a number. If the number is more than 20, the formula says "rent"; if it’s less than 20, the formula recommends "buy". So there you have it: a simple way to determine what to do, as published in the New York Times. Check out the story and interactive formula here, and you can enter a few other assumptions (downpayment, interest rate, expected increase in home value and rent prices). The point of the story is that if we’re living in a market where home prices are depressed somewhat compare with rents, the adage that you’re often better-off renting than buying is no longer true. I tried the formula, using the price I could probably get for my home, and the formula told me that unless I could rent a comparable home for $669 a month (I can’t), I needed to remain a homeowner.

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