Renting vs. Buying a Home

For the first time ever recorded, Americans owe more money than they make.

Millions of Americans bought into the real estate boom with adjustable mortgages and home equity loans. Now rising interest rates are forcing them into agonizing financial choices.

Families who never thought they'd be able to buy into the American dream now have a home, thanks to creative mortgage structures and low rates. More than one out of every 10 home buyers with this type of mortgage, however, is behind in payments.

Foreclosures:

Nearly 850,000 homeowners faced foreclosure last year, and the number is expected to climb even higher this year.

Foreclosures nationwide were up 72 percent in the first quarter from the same period in 2005.

By the second week in August, nearly 520,000 properties were in some stage of foreclosure; at that rate, nearly 1 million properties will have entered foreclosure this year.

Mortgage Rates:

The average rate for the popular 30-year fixed rate mortgage jumped to nearly 7 percent last month -- the highest level in more than four years.

Nearly one-third of the total outstanding mortgage debt is set at an adjustable rate, according to Fannie Mae, the largest source for home mortgage funding in the United States.

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