I've sort been lurking/skimming your pieces on this issue, and I'm surprised how often you make this argument. Isn't the answer simply the type of risk tolerance someone has, and other preferences regarding how to live?
If you value flexibility, you rent. If you like to put your extra cash in investments (higher risk tolerance) you rent. If you plan on staying put in one place, and value an investment with practically guaranteed return, you buy. One isn't really better than the other.
I'm a homeowner; I've bought two properties. I was able to leverage the profit from the first to put a down payment down on the second. Given current mortgage rates, my mortgage payment *is* lower than the rental market. However, add in property taxes and I'm back up to market rate for rent. But then factor in the tax benefits, and I'm back down to below market rate. I personally value knowing exactly what my mortgage payment is going to be for the next thirty years, with the only variable the property taxes. Does this somehow make me less likely to achieve financial success? I don't think so. It just makes me different.
Yes, homeownership costs money for repairs, etc. But even factoring in all those repairs, the increase in value dwarfs those expenses. The increase value is of course not liquid, or as liquid as stock and mutual funds could be, but again, it's more of a personal preference -- I like stability.
I just find it so curious that this is your take always, all the time -- that somehow homeowners have been bamboozled when in fact it's a personal preference?