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Triangle Restaurant Week - Raleigh, NC

Joseph Coupal - Monday, January 26, 2015

If you live in an apartment  in Raleigh, NC you should start making plans (and reservations) for Triangle Restaurant Week  which starts today and runs through Feb. 1.

Participating restaurants in Raleigh, Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham, Morrisville and Apex will offer a special, three-course prix fixe lunch menu for $15 or a three-course prix fixe dinner menu for $20, $25 or $30 depending on the restaurant. Some will offer both lunch and dinner options. (Prices do not include beverage, tip or tax.) No matter your taste, there's bound to be a location that suits it—French, Indian, Greek, American, Cajun and Spanish are among the cuisines represented on the list of restaurants involved.

Triangle Restaurant Week has grown to include more than 75 of the area's restaurants. It won't just be restaurants this year, though. Raleigh's Crank Arm Brewery is taking part with a special "Beer Sunday" kickoff event on Sunday, Jan. 25, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

This annual event offers diners a way to check out restaurants at a reasonable cost. Participating restaurants across the Triangle offer a three-course lunch menu for $15 and a three-course dinner menu for $20-$30.

To see the entire list of restaurants, go to Reservations are recommended, as spots fill up fast.

Indy Week

Renting May Be a Faster Road to Riches – Raleigh, NC

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Are you better off buying or renting a home? If you've listened to the traditional advice, you're likely to believe buying is the better choice, providing tax benefits and giving you a leg up on long-term wealth. However, a new study by HelloWallet contends that the buy vs. rent equation has been tainted by bad assumptions.

Many buy-vs.-rent calculators overestimate the tax benefits of buying and underestimate the amount investors could earn on other investments, according to the study. In reality, median income families -- those earning roughly $50,000 annually -- got no federal tax benefit from homeownership in 75 percent of the cities studied.

On average, these households would build 50 percent more wealth over a 10-year period by renting, according to the HelloWallet research. Moreover, more than half of U.S. homeowners purchased their homes during a time when they would have been better off renting and investing the difference, according to the report.

"Workers need to take a hard look at other investment choices before deciding to buy a home," says Matt Fellowes, founder and CEO of HelloWallet. "Employer sponsored retirement or health savings programs, 529 college savings plans, or even IRAs may be more effective vehicles for families to build wealth and get ahead."

The conclusion of HelloWallet's 25-page study is that the best way to determine whether you're better off buying or renting is to calculate your "rent-to-price" ratio. If that ratio is under 5 percent, rent. If it's over, you should buy.

In other words, if you could rent a $500,000 home for less than $2,083 a month (or $24,996 a year -- just under 5 percent of the home's value), renting is likely to be the best deal. If renting would cost more -- say 7 percent of the cost of buying, or $2,900 a month -- buying is likely to be the smarter economic choice, particularly when you factor in that rents are likely to increase over time.

Of course, the biggest challenge of looking at the buy vs. rent equation is that it involves a lot of variables -- like how long you'll stay in the home, home price appreciation over that time, the returns you could earn on alternate investments over the same period, the relative cost of rent vs. a mortgage, and whether you will be able to make full use of tax deductions provided to homeowners. Making even minor changes in these assumptions -- such as assuming that someone won't itemize deductions after buying -- can swing the math.

Moreover, real people don't necessarily act like mathematical calculations assume they will. The calculators all assume that renters and buyers "invest" the same amount of cash in a home or another type of investment.

For example, if the buyer puts $50,000 in a down payment and spends $3,000 a month on his mortgage, property taxes, insurance and maintenance, the formula will assume the renter plunks $50,000 in an investment account and then spends, say, $2,000 on rent and invests the remaining $1,000.

These assumptions allow for apples to apples comparisons of investment returns and results. But on a personal level, the renter and buyer are not in the same position.

The buyer must make those "investments" in his house or risk foreclosure (or the wrath of tax authorities). The renter, on the other hand, has to pay his rent to keep a roof over his head. But he's not compelled to invest the rest. In real life, he may decide to live a little better -- go out more, travel, buy a nicer car -- instead of putting the entire $1,000 a month into an investment account.

"If I had had an extra 300 or 400 a month that I didn't have to put into the mortgage, I might gone out to dinner a few extra times instead of sinking it into investments," says Geoff McIntrye, a Long Beach realtor who owns 15 rental properties as well as his home. Owning real estate forced him to invest, he says.

That said, the vast majority of homebuyers say they bought because they thought their home was a great investment. But, in many cases, they could have done far better investing in a diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds. Moreover, for the average homeowner it's not even an effective "forced savings" plan, Fellowes says. That's because HelloWallet's research found that the average homeowner moves within 9 years. Over that time, the vast majority of mortgage payments go to interest, not principal.

A look at a loan amortization table shows the bitter truth. Consider a hypothetical buyer who borrowed $400,000 at 4.5 percent to buy a $500,000 home. His monthly payments amount to $2,027 per month. Over 10 years, he's paid $243,240. But his mortgage balance has declined by just $80,000 to $319,532. Because he's likely to pay 5 or 6 percent of the sales price to a realtor when he moves, even more of that forced "savings" evaporates.

To be sure, if the home appreciates, he'll walk away with a fair amount of cash -- the down payment, the price appreciation and the amount he's built in equity. But all too often, he'd have far more if he invested in, say, diversified mutual funds instead.

It's worth noting that HelloWallet's study isn't aimed at discouraging home ownership -- just looking at the numbers more critically, says Fellowes, who is also a homeowner. If the goal is to put down roots in a community and decorate your living space so that it suits you, home ownership may be a reasonable way to invest. But if the goal is to build wealth in the most expedient fashion, homeownership may not be the smartest choice.

"Most people think buying a home is a great investment and the online rent vs. buy calculators encourage that mindset," Fellowes says. "We are interested in finding the best path for people and that requires a lot more critical thinking."

For more information on apartments in Raleigh, NC, contact Auston Grove Apartment Homes.

CBS News

January Rare and Vintage Beer Tasting - Raleigh, NC

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, January 13, 2015

If you live in an apartment in Raleigh, NC you have probably noticed the weather getting colder. Now that the holidays are past, you are probably looking for fun things to do to help get through the cold winter. Well, the chilly days of winter might have us hunkering down against the cold, but don’t get too cozy. This January you can enjoy a beer festival ideal for warming the spirits of beer fans across the city.

Raleigh Rare & Vintge Beer Tasting: 3-6 p.m. Jan 24, 18 Seaboard Ave. Suite 150, Raleigh N.C.

One of the state's best opportunities for a taste of exotic beer, this annual event showcases more than 40 hard-to-find, limited run and otherwise unavailable ales and lagers. Proceeds benefit cancer awareness organization Pints for Prostates. More at


For more information on this and other Beer Festivals in NC in January - Star News Online.

What Carolina Fans Need to Know About Seattle - Raleigh, NC

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, January 06, 2015

If you live in an apartment in Raleigh, NC chances are you will be watching the Carolina Panthers play this weekend.  The Panthers won their first playoff game in nine years this past weekend.  Now in order to get their second win, they’ll have to do it against the defending Super Bowl champs.

Carolina will travel to Seattle for the NFC divisional round game. But, here are 10 things fans need to know about Seattle going into this weekend’s game:

1. Previous meetings: The Seahawks have won the past three games at Carolina since 2012. A 16-12 win in 2012 and a 12-7 victory in 2013 combine with this year’s win to give the Seahawks a victory margin of 13 points against the Panthers.

Carolina didn’t score a touchdown in their 2012 meeting, fumbled inside the 10 with 5 minutes, 25 seconds left in the 2013 game and allowed a touchdown in the final minute of this year’s game for the loss.

“We have played enough in the past that we are going to have a feel for them and they are going to have a feel for us,” Rivera said in his statement. “Our personnel is somewhat different, but I don’t think it will impact the preparation.”

Those games had three things in common: they were defensive battles, Cam Newton didn’t play well in any of them and they were all in Charlotte.

2. Seattle at home: The Seahawks are a remarkable 24-2 at home the past three seasons.

CenturyLink Field is one of the toughest places to play in the NFL because of Seattle’s 12th Man, the collective name for their fans. At one point, CenturyLink Field held the Guinness World Record for the loudest stadium in the world.

3. Yellow flags: The Seahawks led the league with 130 flags thrown against them this season. Only three times this season did Seattle finish with fewer penalties than its opponent, and those games all came at home.

4. Stingy defense: For the second consecutive year, the Seahawks finished with the top defense in the NFL. Opponents passed for just 185.6 yards per game while rushing for 81.5 yards.

The defense has played even better in the last third of the season. Since the Seahawks lost 24-20 to Kansas City in Week 11, they’ve allowed only one team (Philadelphia) to score more than seven points.

Teams have scored 3, 3, 14, 7, 6 and 6 points in the past six games against the Seahawks. In those games, Seattle has allowed 202 yards per game.

5. Russell Wilson everything: The former N.C. State star has proven you can win with a dual-threat quarterback.

What makes Wilson so dangerous is even when he’s scrambling toward the line of scrimmage, he’s still looking to pass. Wilson doesn’t sell out on running the ball until he has to, and that makes his run-pass threat even better.

Wilson has completed 63 percent of his passes this season and has thrown 20 touchdowns to seven interceptions. Perhaps most remarkable is that of those seven picks, he threw only one in Seattle’s four losses.

6. Inside All-Pro: This Saturday’s match will have the two first-team All-Pro inside linebackers from this season. Luke Kuechly and Seattle’s Bobby Wagner will control the middle of the second level of their team’s defenses. Wagner finished with 38 tackles in the month of December, helping him earn the NFC defensive player of the month award.

7. Opportunity knocks: Seattle scored 85 points this season on takeaways and allowed a league-low 38 points by opponents when they forced Seahawks turnovers.

The net 47 turnover points ranked fourth in the league this year. Carolina’s net of 9 points was 13th.

8. Beast Mode: For all the talk about running back Marshawn Lynch not talking to the media, there’s plenty to discuss about what he does on the field.

When Lynch goes into “Beast Mode” – one of his nicknames – watch out. Lynch rushed for 1,306 yards this season, and for the sixth time in nine seasons he reached the 1,000-yard plateau.

He rushed for a career-high 13 touchdowns this season, and he’s lost just one fumble in the past two years. Seattle will feed him against the Panthers. Lynch rushed 52 times in the three games against Carolina.

9. Distracted?: Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is one of the hottest names on the coaching circuit. With six NFL teams in need of a head coach, Quinn has reportedly interviewed with the Jets, Bears, Falcons and Bills. Seattle offensive line coach Tom Cable and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell also interviewed for head jobs.

10. Mutual respect: After rookie receiver Kelvin Benjamin caught four passes for 94 yards against Seattle this year, All Pro cornerback Richard Sherman said Benjamin would be a good pro in the NFL.

Sherman is widely considered one of the top two cornerbacks in the league, but he couldn’t stop Benjamin from having a big day against him. Benjamin caught a 51-yard pass in double coverage against Sherman and fellow All-Pro safety Earl Thomas.

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton showed he’s not afraid to throw Sherman’s way like other quarterbacks in the league.

Herald Online

First Night Raleigh 2015 is Full of Fun and Festivities

Joseph Coupal - Monday, December 29, 2014

There will be concerts, dance parties and costumed balls this New Year's Eve.  If you live in an apartment in Raleigh, NC then First Night is the place to be to usher in 2015.

This year's First Night Raleigh theme is “Out of This World." The New Year's Eve celebration will include music, children’s activities and other festivities.

Festivities kick of at 2 p.m. with the Children’s Celebration at NC Museum of History, NC Museum of Natural Sciences and outdoors on the Bicentennial Plaza. Parents can have their children ring in the New Year with the Early Countdown at 7 p.m. Performances at the Main Stage begin earlier than past years, starting at 4 p.m. Later into the night, the streets of Raleigh come alive with performances in over 20 blocks of downtown Raleigh and a First Night tradition, the People’s Procession at 6 p.m.

AUGUSTINES will headline this year’s main stage leading up to the countdown to 2015. Ira David Wood III returns as the countdown master of ceremonies, with the famous acorn dropping at midnight while fireworks are shot off into the night sky.

Patrons will be thrilled as the Fantastical First Night Ferris Wheel returns to Fayetteville Street. And in keeping with the “Out of This World” theme, First Night Raleigh 2015 will also host an “Alien Abduction” ride for festivalgoers to enjoy. Both amusements will open to the public at 2 p.m. on the afternoon of Dec. 31.

In addition, other artists scheduled to appear include: The Barefoot Movement, Raleigh’s own The Love Language, African American Dance Ensemble, Amelia Curran, Paperhand Puppet Intervention, North Carolina Opera singers, PopUp Chorus, Amelia Curran, Marty O’Reilly & the Old Soul Orchestra, Old Man Luedecke, Sonic Escape, Moving Pieces interactive theater, “Out of This World” installation by Greg Carter, Comedy Worx, Transactors Improv Company, El Gleno Grande and many more!

Raleigh artist Greg Carter will be creating whimsical and colorful creations to display in PNC Plaza for the event. The N.C.

Admission on sale now for $10** when purchased in advance. On December 31, on-site sales will be $14* for adults and $11* for children.


Why Your Home Is Not A Good Investment – Raleigh, NC

Joseph Coupal - Monday, December 22, 2014

I've come to believe that for millions of Americans, a house is a large liability masquerading as a safe asset.

Not just because of the recent housing crash, although what an eye-opener that was.

But because after watching real estate implode last decade, the average American still believes their home will make a great long-term investment. The best long-term investment, even.

As my colleague David Hanson wrote last week, a recent Gallup poll shows that Americans now believe housing is the best long-term investment, beating out stocks, bonds, and gold.

They might be right, only because the average stock investor does so poorly that a home may indeed be their best investment. But housing has historically been a terrible bet for people who think it will return more than inflation. To show you what I mean, I have to tell you about my visit to Yale economist Robert Shiller's office a year ago.

Shiller — who won the Nobel Prize last year — is regarded as the world's foremost housing expert. He has married historical data with deep insight into human psychology to offer some of the best housing analysis anyone's ever produced.

Not only is Shiller brilliant, but he's one of the nicest guys I've ever met, easy to talk to and puts things in clear, easy-to-understand language. As we sat in his office eating donuts and drinking coffee, I asked him, in the broadest terms I could, what homeowners should expect out of their homes in the long run.

"The housing boom in the early 2000s was driven by a sense that housing is a wonderful investment. It was not informed by good history," he said. Most people now agree on that much.

"If you look at the history of the housing market, it hasn't been a good provider of capital gains. It is a provider of housing services," he explained.

By that, he means a home gives you a place to live, a place to sleep, a place to store your stuff.

But that's it. Americans believed — and still believe — that the value of their home will increase above the rate of inflation.

And that, Shiller says, is wrong.

"Capital gains have not even been positive. From 1890 to 1990, real inflation-corrected home prices were virtually unchanged."

Shiller — a pioneer of behavioral finance and one of the calmest, levelheaded economists I know — becomes animated at this point, almost irritated. Debunking the notion that housing is a great investment is one of his favorite topics.

Housing prices, he argues, could decline over long periods of time — decades, even.

"Why is that?" he asks me. I really don't know.

"Well, I think you have to reflect on the fact that it's done it before. Home prices declined for the first half of the 20th century [adjusted for inflation]. Economists discussed that back then. Why are they going down? The conclusion was ... of course home prices go down. There's technical progress. They are a manufactured good. Back in 1900, homes were handmade, you know, craftsmen. But now, in 1950, we can get all kinds of power tools and prefab. And [construction workers] were just better in 1950 than we were in 1900. So of course prices will go down."

Shiller also mentions that certain homes go out of style over time, dragging down prices. "What kind of houses will they be building in 20 years?" he wonders aloud. "They may have lots of new amenities. They will be computerized or something in some way that we can't anticipate now. So people won't want these old homes."

His animation peaked with a line I'll never forget.

"To me, the idea that buying a home is such a great idea is just wrong. They may very well decline for the next 30 years in real terms."

Real home prices may decline for the next 30 years.

The best thing about Shiller, and what sets him apart from your typical pundit, is that he has data to back up every point he makes.

In the early 2000s, Shiller wanted to see what nationwide home prices looked like over the long term. He was shocked to learn that no one had ever actually put that data together.

He dug around in libraries, crunched the numbers, and came up with an index that measured nationwide home prices going back to the 1890s.

This was a first. "The strange thing is, nobody else had ever made a plot like that. I can tell you, no one had ever seen that picture," he told me, shaking his head in disbelief. "People plot all kinds of data. Why wouldn't someone have done that? I still haven't figured it out."

The chart, measuring nationwide home prices adjusted for inflation, was this one:

From 1890 — just three decades after the Civil War — through 2012, home prices adjusted for inflation literally went nowhere. Not a single dime of real growth. For comparison, the S&P 500 increased more than 2,000-fold during that period, adjusted for inflation. And from 1890 to through 1980, real home prices actually declined by about 10%.

The reason Shiller warns that home prices could fall going forward is the simple observation that, heck, they've done it in the past. It's what history tells us to expect out of our homes. The entire idea that home prices increase in real terms over time is a figment of the 2000s housing bubble.

It's important to reiterate what a home does do: It provides a place to live. A place to raise your kids. A place to spend the holidays with your family. A place to barbecue with your neighbors. Even a place to rent out. That has tremendous value, of course. Shiller owns a home. He'd buy another if he needed one. "Basically, if I were in the market right now because I wanted a house, I would buy a house," he said.

The problem is that Americans expect more out of their homes than just a place to live. In 2010 — years after the housing bubble burst — Shiller's surveys showed Americans still expected their home to appreciate by more than 6% a year over the following decade. If history is any guide, that's probably about twice as fast as they'll actually appreciate by. Despite the housing crash, people still expect stock-like returns out of their homes.

Since a home is most Americans' largest asset, you can see how this becomes a problem. When you have inflated expectations about the largest asset you own, you walk down the path of financial disappointment. The value of American homes fell by nearly $7 trillion from 2007 to 2011. People who thought their homes would return enough to pay for retirement learned that Mr. Market carries a sledgehammer and takes no prisoners.

Everyone should live in a home they can afford and provides the lifestyle they desire. But assuming it's a superior long-term investment, one to rival stocks, is dangerous. There's just no evidence backing it up.

I think people run into two problems when thinking about the value of their house.

A home is typically the asset people hold the longest. They sell stocks after a few months, but keep a home for years, or decades. When you own something for that long, the returns you think you earned can be overwhelmingly due to inflation. The Consumer Price Index has increased six-fold since 1970. If you bought a house for $30,000 in 1970 and it's worth $180,000 today, you've earned nothing after inflation. You think you've made a fortune, but you haven't gone anywhere. Add in property taxes, insurance and repairs, and you're down.

Yes, you got to live in the house. That's huge. But it doesn't make living free.

If you have a mortgage, you're paying interest. If you own outright, or have a lot of equity, there's an opportunity cost of having money tied up in an asset that barely keeps up with inflation when you could have had it in something else, like stocks.

Say you and I both have $250,000. I buy a house for $250,000 cash, and you rent a house across the street for $1,000 a month and put $250,000 in the S&P 500. After 20 years, I'll have a house worth $200,000 in real terms, and you'll have a portfolio of stocks worth $330,000 adjusted for inflation (assuming the market's average real rate of return, and a 2% inflation rate on my rent payments). The difference between those two amounts is the opportunity cost of owning a house (and I didn't even include taxes, repairs, or insurance). In reality, it's hard to rent the same house for 20 years straight, and a lot of regions don't offer attractive rentals at all, so this probably isn't feasible. But it shows that the decision to own can be more about lifestyle and stability, not financial returns.

So, by all means, own a home. Just keep your expectations in check.

For more information on apartments in Raleigh, NC, contact Auston Grove Apartments.

Business Insider

Santa Charity Bar Crawl Around Downtown Raleigh, NC

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, December 16, 2014

If you live in an apartment in Raleigh, NC dress up like Santa this weekend and do some good for a charitable cause while having festive fun. The Santa Charity Bar Crawl brings you to five of your favorite bars located between the Moore Square and Fayetteville Street area. Come out and party with hundreds of Santas, Santa's Little Helpers, Elfs, and other Christmas clad revelers as you visit some of Raleigh's best nightlife venues!

Check in on Friday, December 19, at Rum Runners from 8-845pm. Costume contest for best Guy and Girl costume. You must be 21 or older.

Drink Specials include:

  • $3 Domestic TBA
  • $5 Jack Honey Shots

The best part of all is: it's all for charity!

Donate a toy for a local charity, Memories for Marcus and receive $10 off your ticket price. Donations must be at least $5 value. NO TOY? No problem proceeds from your ticket price will go to a local single mother of 3 battling severe health issues.

Tickets without a donation will $15 in advance and $25 day of (proceeds going to single mother of 3 battling severe health issues).

Strongly encouraged to dress up as many others will be in costume.

More information -

Tree Lighting, Holiday Festival, and Other Events Around Raleigh This Week

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, December 09, 2014

If you live in an apartment in Raleigh, NC you can enjoy all types of holiday fun this week around town. Festivities begin with the lighting of luminaries and musical performances on the Capitol grounds. The Governor and First Lady will light the state Christmas Tree during the traditional ceremony on the south plaza. After the ceremony, visitors are invited inside the Capitol for an open house to take in the decorations. The Junior Woman’s Club of Raleigh will host a holiday festival featuring music and children’s activities on Union Square, in the museums, and on Bicentennial Plaza.


The Capital City Clauses will hold the 21st Annual Jingle Ball at Marbles Kids Museum from 6:30-10:30 p.m. This event is always so much fun and it helps raise money and collect toys for The Salvation Army's Christmas Cheer program. Just bring a new, unwrapped toy valued at $20 or more or $30 cash or check to get in.

Get into the holiday spirit with "A Christmas Carol" starring Ira David Wood III. The show plays Raleigh Memorial Auditorium through Sunday and then the DPAC Dec. 18-21.


The Governor and First Lady will light the state Christmas Tree during a ceremony at the State Capitol. After, visitors will be invited inside the Capitol for an open house. Also, the Junior Woman's Club of Raleigh will hold a holiday festival featuring music and children's activities on Union Square, in museums and at Bicentennial Plaza. The fun starts at 5 p.m.


Vivian Howard, star of PBS'  "A Chef's Life" and owner of Chef and the Farmer in Kinston, will be at Southern Season in Chapel Hill for to do cooking demos, sign autographs and  meet with fans. She will be there from noon to 3 p.m. and will also be chatting about her line of gift baskets for the store.


Raleigh Winterfest and Outdoor Ice Skating Rink

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, December 02, 2014

The Raleigh Winterfest, a 10-week holiday event you can enjoy when you live in an apartment in Raleigh, NC. This Saturday, December 6, head downtown for the festival.

The Festival

On Saturday, December 6 from 3-10 p.m., Fayetteville Street will transform into a winter wonderland complete with Santa's village, a carousel, a sledding hill, horse-drawn carriage rides -- and, of course, the ice rink. At 7 p.m., Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane will light up a 40-foot holiday tree with 14,000 LED lights.

There will also be exciting live performances featuring this year's headliner, Grammy-award winning bluegrass legend Peter Rowan.

Adults can socialize at the popular beer and wine garden. This year the festival is introducing Taste of Downtown, with a variety of cuisine form downtown Raleigh eateries, and the Gingerbread House Tent, where you can marvel over creative candied creations and vote for your three favorites.

The Ice Rink

The crown jewel of Winterfest is the ice skating rink, which helps everyone in Raleigh ring in the holiday season.

Dates: November 22 - February 1
Location: City Plaza at the 400 block of Fayetteville St.
Admission: $9 for adults and children

Throughout the season, the rink will host special programming to enhance the outdoor holiday experience.


Reconsider Renting - Raleigh, NC

Joseph Coupal - Monday, November 24, 2014

For as long as I can remember, homeownership has been a home run on the American Dream scorecard.

When I graduated from college, my grandmother gave me two choices: live with her or buy a home. In her mind, to rent meant I was a failure financially.

“When you rent, you get nothing for your money,” Big Mama would lecture.

Since I didn’t have enough money saved for a home, I lived with my grandmother, who had been my guardian since I was 4. I hated that year of ridiculous rules. No shoes under the bed. Don’t turn the television knob to the left, only to the right (this was before remote controls). And Big Mama fretted I would be late for work, so she would wake me at 6 a.m. for a shift that didn’t start until 10 a.m.

After a year of this, I decided I had to move. But I still didn’t have enough money saved to buy a home. So I rented.

Every time I called my grandmother, she would berate me about renting. By the end of my lease, I had saved enough to buy a condo, thanks to a first-time homebuying program. I’ve never rented since.

I tell you this story for two reasons. I understand where my grandmother was coming from. Owning a home was the only way she knew of creating wealth for herself and our family. She didn’t trust investing in the stock market. I joke that the only bond she ever owned was the adhesive for her dentures.

However, in the 2000s, the benefit of homeownership became twisted and too many people were persuaded to pay insane prices and take out unsustainable mortgages in the quest to fulfill the American Dream.

Then the housing crisis smacked people back to common sense.

I’ve never been supportive of stigmatizing renters as financial failures. Although it’s true that homeownership has been the path to prosperity for most American families, it’s not the only path. If you buy a home before you are economically ready, it can drag you down financially. As we saw with the drop in housing prices, you can be left without a home and your savings.

A just-released study by HelloWallet, a company that provides online financial help as an employer-provided benefit, puts the debate of homebuying versus renting in perspective. If the cost of renting is less than that of owning a home and you save well, you can accumulate just as much wealth as homeowners do, the study contends.

“Buying a home is akin to a rite of passage, simply something people do when they can, regardless of their circumstances or market conditions,” Aron Szapiro, a consumer finance expert for HelloWallet, writes.

From 2005 to 2012, all home prices collapsed by 42 percent, Szapiro calculated using Case-Shiller housing data.

So, the question HelloWallet set out to answer was this: Could renters build more net wealth than homebuyers, while taking on much less risk, by forgoing homeownership and investing the yearly savings from renting in a tax-deferred retirement plan?

They could indeed, the study concluded.

“Over half of current homeowners, or over 40 million households, purchased their homes during time periods when average homebuyers would have been better off renting and investing,” Szapiro noted.

Of course, the key is that renters need to have the discipline to invest the savings they get from renting.

HelloWallet listed a number of findings in its study, but two stood out for me:

    Be careful about the bias built into “buy-or-rent” calculators. Many of the free online tools that are supposed to help determine if buying a home is right for you are heavily biased toward homeownership, the report points out. The calculators often compare homeownership to saving in an interest-bearing bank account earning low returns. “Since homes are a risky asset, an alternative investment should also present some risk, such as an investment in a mix of stocks and bonds aimed at building long-term wealth for retirement,” Szapiro says.

    Don’t overestimate the tax advantage of homeownership. An overwhelming majority of homebuyers — 80 percent — listed the federal mortgage deduction and other tax benefits as a reason to buy rather than to rent. Yet more than half of homeowners with mortgages don’t even take the deduction because they don’t itemize their federal tax returns. “We find that federal tax benefits for homeownership go largely to high-income families in high-cost areas, and even for these families, the benefit is fleeting,” Szapiro says.

For me, the take-away from the report is that buying a home is not a no-brainer. It never was. There’s much to consider and the old rules of thumb aren’t always true, including assuming that renting is a detriment to wealth-building.

For more information on renting apartments in  Raleigh, NC , contact Auston Grove Apartments.


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