Is homeownership a joy or a burden?

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"I don’t know how you do it."

That’s the comment I heard from my friend Kristi Fojtik, 38, a single woman who has toyed with the idea of buying a condominium now that home prices have fallen back to earth and interest rates have plummeted to new lows.

Fojtik occupies a rent-controlled apartment in Los Angeles that’s much too small to accommodate herself, her belongings, her beloved cats and her aspirations of entertaining more than three guests at the same time.