The bad news is that homeownership might be out of reach for some. The good news, however, is that long-term renting is becoming a more accepted practice.
If you're determined to buy a home, the key is saving. Sizable down payments are now needed to qualify for a mortgage, and the government will only insure borrowers with a good credit history.
Housing prices remain depressed. So while a down payment is necessary, it's not impossible to cobble together. "[H]omeownership is a self-imposed savings plan. Not everyone should own a home, but from a financial perspective, people who are planning to stay in a property over the long term can benefit from buying," Ken Johnson, editor of the Journal of Housing Research at Florida International University said at a recent conference.
Corrected on 12/15/11: A previous version of this story misspelled the name of U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, and erroneously used the word “lenders” in place of “borrowers.”