Many of us don’t have the resources — or the fortitude — to own stocks in really large quantities. That’s what makes your home such great “risk capital.”

It’s not the stock market, and you shouldn’t look at buying a home as a way to get rich, but if the economy picks up, real estate values will eventually follow. Building equity in your home is like linking your investment portfolio to the growth of the economy — without the sleepless nights!

Plus, it’s like forced savings. Maybe you could rent a condo for $1,800 per month instead of buying one for $2,200, but would you really “save” that $400 a month for the future? The part of your mortgage payment that goes toward principle is like paying yourself back in equity — instead of burning that money on rent.

And the interest you’re paying on your loan along with your property taxes is tax deductible and probably enough to allow you to itemize many other deductions from your income as well. For many people, just these tax breaks alone make owning cost less than renting.

Usually, you can buy a much better home than you can rent and with lower prices, well-stocked inventories and low interest rates.

Now is the time to contact your agent and start saving for the future.

Paul Suding, a real estate agent with Cool Santa Barbara Homes and Village Properties, is president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. He can be contacted at or 805.455.8055.