Rent vs. buy vs. live with mom and dad

Hey Millennials, what makes you so special?

Is it better to get a 15- or 30-year mortgage on a first house? -- @KellyRunRuuun viaTwitter.

Wow, Kelly. That's a question I don't hear often from Millennials.

Your generation is twice as likely to be living at home with mom and dad than shopping for real estate. In fact you've been out of the home-buying game since the Crash of 2008.

Only 13.2% of people aged 18 to 34 are homeowners, a record low number. An astonishing 31% of people aged 18 to 34 are still living with their parents. And men are more likely than women to still be living at home.

For graduates with student loans, living at home or with relatives is a smart strategy and the single most effective budget tool you have. It's actually a no-brainer: Why give 50% or more of your pay to a landlord when you can live at home rent-free and use that money to cut your debt, build your emergency fund and save up for a home.

It might have been considered "slacker" and embarrassing for Generation X, but for Millennials, it is acceptable and even wise.

How to save for a down payment

Related: Loans disappear: The student loan hack you don't know about

Assuming your finances are in good shape -- you are gainfully employed, have six months of savings in the bank and money for a down payment -- then the smartest money move you can make is buying a home now. Interest rates are rock bottom, but will start rising either late this year or next.

Home prices are still well below their peaks of 2007 (except in cities like Dallas and Denver, where home prices are at record highs again). Meanwhile, forecasts call for rents to keep going up.

Typically, for first-time buyers, a 30-year fixed rate mortgage offers the lowest payments and the most stability. Six months before you are ready to buy, check your credit history for free at www.annualcreditreport.com to give yourself time to fix any mistakes. The higher your credit score, the lower the interest rate you'll pay.

Related: 5 biggest student loan mistakes

--Christine Romans is CNN's Chief Business Correspondent and author of Smart is the New Rich: Money Guide for Millennials. The book is currently available for pre-order at Amazon.com and in bookstores next week. Romans is giving away a copy to each person whose question is being answered this week.

christine romans book

Millennials: What's your most pressing money question? Are you worried about getting a job? Ask Christine Romans your question here, or on Twitter or Facebook using #askchristine and @cnnmoney.

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