CHARLOTTE, N.C. The housing bust across the country led a lot of folks to look at renting instead of buying. But is it time to jump back in and become a homeowner?

One real estate expert says it is more affordable to buy than rent in the Charlotte area.

Real estate website www.Trulia.com conducted research with its Rent Versus Buy index. It ranks Charlotte as number 38 out of 100, meaning we're on the side of it being more affordable to buy than pay rent.

Detroit, which has seen dramatically dropping home prices, is number one. Honolulu, where home prices are expensive, is 100.

Real estate expert Michael Corbett said one thing the downturn has done is led to increasing rents, and we've seen that here in Charlotte.

We're seeing a huge increase in rental prices all across the nation over the past year. For that very reason, a lot of people are holding back waiting to jump back into the market as far as buying, so therefore they are flooding the market as renters, Corbett said.

But before calling your real estate agent, Corbett advises you need to do some homework.

The key though is even though you're in an area where it is better to buy, and Charlotte is, there are five things that you need to quickly ask yourself to know if buying is right for you, Corbett noted.

Here are the five things to consider before you buy:

1. Can you put 20 percent down?
2) Can you stay in house five to seven years?
3) Factor in taxes, insurance and maintenance
4) Job stability
5) Keep an emergency fund

If you can say yes to all of those things, Charlotte is actually a good opportunity for buying a place for you. If you can't say yes to all of those, keep renting for now and keep saving your money.

Nationwide, Corbett thinks we're heading in the right direction.

According to a lot of surveys...we are basically nationally about a third of the way back toward recovery, he added. We're going to still bump along the bottom for a while but I think we're sort of getting near that part where...things are looking up.

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