Quick Take: Realtors Under Fire

It's nice to see the New York Times (NYSE: NYT  ) step up and give the National Association of Realtors, and its head optimist, David Lereah, a poke it so richly deserves. This article points out what the NAR, and homebuilders like Centex (NYSE: CTX  ) , Beazer (NYSE: BZH  ) , and Pulte (NYSE: PHM  ) or mortgage-hawkers like Washington Mutual (NYSE: WM  ) and Freddie Mac (NYSE: FRE  ) , don't want you to know.

Renting makes a lot more sense than buying. In a lot of places. A lot of the time. Do the numbers yourself.

It's still a bit of New York Times naivete, brimming with statements like this one: "Most striking, perhaps, is the fact that prices may not yet have fallen far enough for buying to look better than renting today ..."

How is that striking? Home prices have gone through an unprecedented bubble. Rents have not. Unless housing prices tumble very quickly, it will be years before buying is smarter than renting, especially in a bizarre market like the one around Washington D.C., where a run-down, 700-square-foot, 1950s crackerbox goes for $450,000.

Just one more thing, Times. How about dropping the whole "American Dream" cliche? There's nothing inherently better about owning. And while we're on the topic of "owning," maybe we should all do more to point out that homeowners buying with zilch down aren't "owning" at all. They're simply renting from the bank.

I've rented and owned, and it comes down to this. A home is a place to hang your hat. Pay too much for the peg, and you're risking the real American Dream: the pursuit of happiness.

Comments? Bring them here.

At the time of publication, Seth Jayson had no positions in any company mentioned here. See his latest blog commentary here. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Washington Mutual is an Income Investor selection, and New York Times is a former pick of this newsletter. Fool rules are here.

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