Owning a home can be an incredibly savvy money move. I'm not talking about getting sucked into the current real-estate mania that has people thinking they can buy today and sell tomorrow for 20 percent more. That's flipping insanity. I'm talking about buying and staying put for at least 5 or 10 years and expecting a realistic annual appreciation rate of 4 percent or so, which is slightly ahead of the typical rate of inflation. Following that approach, you're bound to be a two-time winner. Not only will you have your own home to live in, but you'll most likely be living in an appreciating asset that will pay you to have lived in it. That's stellar home economics. So, whether you're prerelationship, divorced, or devoutly unattached—if you're single and still renting, now is a great time to acquire a home of your own.
Know these four bidding basics.
How to buy smart when you buy solo.
From the Spring 2006 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine