I started my career in home construction and real estate in 1978. Home sales were brisk until the early 1980's when mortgage interest went up to as high as 18%. Talk about a challenge, try convincing someone that 18% was a good rate to pay for a home loan. Hign interest rates, high unemployment, and high inflation eventually bought the real estate market to a grinding halt.
Consider mortgage rates today, 9-13-11. You can get a 15 year mortgage for 3.33% if you have good credit. In North Carolina you can get a new 2000 square foot home for 200,000. If you borrowed $180,000 for 15 years at 3.33%, your payments, principle and interest, would be around $1271.81. You could rent a home for a comparable amount so which way should you go?
In my opinion, if you are going to be in a home only 2 or 3 years you might want to rent. Any longer buying might be the better option as we all know long term real estate will go up. It might be a few more years before the sub prime meltdown plays out but it will eventually work out and home prices will start to rise again.