Winter HomeA crackling fire, frost on the window panes and families and friends gathering together to celebrate the passing year and usher in the new one – home really is where the heart is during the holiday season.

But a home is also so much more. A home of one’s own is not only a place of shelter and refuge, it is an investment in today as well as tomorrow. As 2010 draws to a close, the Illinois Association of REALTORS® offers five reasons why buying a home continues to be a good investment:

1. Long-term Wealth: Owning a home is one of the best ways to build long-term wealth. Historically, a homeowner’s net worth has ranged from 31 to 46 times that of a renter, according to data from the Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances. Despite the economic downturn, homeownership today still represents a family’s primary means of financial advancement.

2. Stable Monthly Payments: Most homeowners enjoy stable housing costs—a fixed-rate mortgage payment might not change for 15 to 30 years while rent typically increases three percent each year. Locking in today’s low interest rates has the potential to save homeowners thousands of dollars a year. And homes are as affordable as they have been in decades.

3. Tax Benefits: Homeowners can typically deduct mortgage interest and property taxes on their federal income tax return, leading to significant tax savings.

4. Freedom: Owning a home comes with the freedom to do what you want to the property. Homeowners are free to renovate, redecorate and modify their homes as they wish. If you want to paint the walls or make a simple landscaping change, there isn’t a landlord to stop you.

5. Investment in Your Future: While financial considerations are certainly important, a lot of today’s buyers are motivated by things beyond just dollars and cents. For many, homeownership is a lifestyle choice—a place to raise a family, build memories and be part of a larger community.