San Marcos/San Elijo Hills in USA Today

By Noelle Knox and Barbara Hansen, USA TODAY


Sydney Lasry, a systems engineer, took a second job three years ago so he could afford to buy a $400,000 home in Severn, Md. His mortgage payment hasn’t risen, but his property taxes have jumped by $1,000 since then, to $3,200 a year, and his home insurance has soared by $500, to $1,100.

Now, housing costs are devouring 70% of his gross income. And Lasry, 45, who’s working as much overtime as he can, fears he won’t be able to keep up. “People see me living in this nice house” but when Lasry eats out, “I eat at McDonald’s,” he says.


CHART: How housing costs affect consumers’ budgets in 100 metros

Look around. Thirty-seven percent of U.S. homeowners with mortgages are spending 30% or more of their before-tax income on housing — the threshold where the government says a home becomes unaffordable — according to 2006 Census data being released Wednesday. This compares with 27% in 2000, before the real estate boom drove the nation’s median home price up more than 50%.

For some, the financial burden is far worse: 14% of homeowners with mortgages — more than 7 million households — shell out at least half their gross monthly income to cover their home loan, property taxes, insurance and utilities, up from 10% in 2000. READ THE ENTIRE USA TODAY ARTICLE AND SEE PICTURE OF OLD CREEK RANCH

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