OWN AND RENT: Low mortgage rates have made buying a home more affordable and turned rentals into an attractive option for investors. Many homeowners also have purchased a second home and rented out their first property.

RENTAL DEMAND: Although the housing market is showing signs of recovery, demand for rental housing is expected to remain strong, while many economists anticipate that rental rates will increase this year.

CRITICAL TIP: Experts say would-be landlords who elect to keep a property for the long-term investment potential must ensure that the rental income covers the cost of their mortgage and monthly maintenance costs.