How one family makes the payments

Tom Snyder is married, has one daughter, works for the US Postal Service, earns $24,473 per year, and owns a $102,000 house in Long Beach. That is nothing special. For southern California the $100,000 house is commonplace.

"It sounds scary to me, to say we own a $100,000 house -- but we do," says Mr. Snyder.

The house includes three bedrooms, one-and-a-half bathrooms, a dining room, a living room, a porch, and sits on a 60-by-135-foot lot. The exterior is gold stucco. It is located on a quiet street in the original Lakewood section of the city. The house was built in 1947 and the previous owners, says Mr. Snyder, probably paid $20,000 for it in 1966.

The Snyders could afford the new house primarily because the extraordinary pressures on real estate throughout southern California jacked the price of their previous home sky high. In 1976, they bought a two-bedroom house for $39, 000. This year they sold it for $79,000. Mr. Snyder estimates that he spent $2 ,000 on the house to remodel the bathroom, do some painting, and put in new drapes. The remaining $38,000 was profit.

But it is still a struggle. Half of his take-home pay is spent on monthly payments for the new home. And Mr. Snyder has one advantage: a 5.6 interest rate on his mortgage through a veterans program. With regular rates from today's market the monthly payments would be at least $850 instead of $650. The factor in being able to afford something better," says Mr. Snyder. "We were looking at $90,000 or $95,000 homes," he says, "but when we found this we just stretched a little bit."

That "stretching" includes many things. Old furniture is not being replaced, there are no vacations, dinner out with his wife, Georgia, occurs once a month at the most, their 1974 Honda Civic and 1967 Mustang will be relied on longer. Old clothing will be made to last longer and daughter Tamara is more likely to be entertained at a public park instead of at Disneyland.

"We'll be pinching pennies for quite awhile," says Mr. Snyder.

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