Gimme Shelter

First-time home buyers battle to beat the odds

Almost from the day they were married eleven years ago, Chuck Dribin and his wife Alice Eysenbach began salting away savings toward a home in suburban Chicago. "But something always seemed to happen," recalls Dribin, 38, a high school speech teacher. "Every time we saved $5,000, interest rates jumped and we needed $10,000." Even with a solidly middle-class income (now $40,000 between them), Dribin and Eysenbach, 39, a part-time teacher and actor, wondered whether they would ever be able to unlock the door to home ownership.

They finally managed to do so by lowering their expectations, accepting family help and taking...

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