At portfolio.com the other day, I ran across a Felix Salmon article that drew me in with its first sentence: "This is the worst website I've seen in a very long time."

Of course, I had to click in and see what the fuss was about. The most egregious issue with the site in question -- which offers "housing market facts" courtesy of the National Association of Realtors -- is its content. Salmon takes issue with much of it. Let me add my own two cents. Here are a few "facts" offered by the NAR website:

  • "Over the past 30 years, home values have risen more than 6% annually." Ooh, that does sound good, doesn't it? But they forgot to mention that the S&P 500 grew by an annual average of about 9.4% during that same period. Over 30 years, stock investors end up with more than double what homeowners have. (This isn't to suggest you shouldn't buy a home -- it's a smart thing for most of us to do. Just don't think of it as a ticket to riches.)
  • "The average homeowner's net worth is $171,000 -- that's nearly 46 times that of a renter's, who has an average net worth of $4,800." This almost suggests that if you buy a home, you'll suddenly boost your worth. Over time, you may, but this comparison is problematic. For one thing, many renters are young Americans, saving up to buy a home. At some point, they'll be in the other group.

My advice? For long-term wealth building, look to the stock market. Over the long haul -- 20 years or more -- stocks like Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY), Union Pacific (NYSE: UNP), Hess (NYSE: HES), and Nike (NYSE: NKE) have all provided double-digit returns for investors.

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Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article. Try our investing services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.