The American Dream of owning your own home and a little piece of land to tend has been a little battered since the Great Recession, and many people were left wondering if homeownership was all it was cracked up to be after seeing house values plummet. There have always been plenty of emotional reasons to buy a house — security, family, a fresh palette for all your interior design fantasies — but does it make sense from a financial standpoint to lay down thousands of dollars for a house?

According to researchers at none other than Harvard University, the answer is yes. Eric S. Belsky works for the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard, and his report — appropriately called "The Dream Lives On: The Future of Homeownership in America" — will definitely cheer you up if you've been worried that buying a house is too risky to be worth the investment. According to his work, there are five big reasons why buying a house now is good use of your money for the future.

1. It's Your One Shot at Using Leverage to Invest

Wealthy investors turn thousands of dollars into millions by using the power of leverage, otherwise known as borrowing money to make an investment. They might borrow money to invest in overseas businesses or to buy stock here in the States. Middle class investors typically can't find a bank willing to lend them money to make these types of riskier investments, but they can get a mortgage fairly easily. That means you can pay a small down payment and finance the rest of your home to take advantage of rising prices — when you eventually sell the house, you get to enjoy the profit.

2. Homeownership Forces You To Save 

According to Belsky, “Since many people have trouble saving and have to make a housing payment one way or the other, owning a home can overcome people’s tendency to defer savings to another day.”

In other words, if you’ve ever struggled to set aside money for savings then owning a home can help. You are paying down your mortgage with every monthly payment and can use your equity at some point in the future.

3. You Get a Big Tax Break

Once you own a house, you can take advantage of one of the biggest income tax breaks around: the mortgage interest deduction. You can also deduct your property taxes, so you're highly likely to get a good deal if you itemize your deductions — especially in the early years of your mortgage, when your payments are almost all interest. Furthermore, Belsky points out that "capital gains up to $250,000 are excluded from income for single filers and up to $500,000 for married couples if they sell their homes for a gain." This means that you won't pay taxes on most of any profit you make when you sell that house in the future.

4. You Avoid Rising Housing Costs

When inflation strikes and rents rise, you can feel powerless to keep up. The advantage of homeownership — when you choose a fixed rate, anyway — is that your mortgage payment stays the same for the next 20 or 30 years. That's one big part of your budget that you can count on being steady, which should come as a relief when prices everywhere else keep going up.

5. You Might as Well Pay Yourself

Whether you choose to rent or to own, you'll still be paying a monthly housing bill. When you pay rent to a landlord, that money goes to pay down his mortgage and build his equity in the property, which he will profit from if and when he decides to sell. When you choose to take on your own mortgage, you don't just get a place to live: You also build up your own equity in the investment to either apply to moving up to a bigger home or to cash out on if you ever decide to sell or refinance.

Buying a house can feel overwhelming, but it's nearly always a good investment. When you work with a great real estate agent, you can shop with confidence, knowing that you'll get the right house for you — and your budget. Give us a call when you're ready to get started on the biggest and best investment you'll ever make. We can't wait to help!