Kate A. is a young high school teacher in Stoney Creek Ont., with excellent credit references. She has put offers on several houses in the last two years and lost them due to competition, and inclusion of a financing condition. With family support and personal savings, she has a good down payment.

She was prequalified for a $550,000 purchase price, but that figure has been reduced to $445,000 under the qualifying rate.

Adding to her situation, her husband was recently diagnosed with a serious blood disorder for which he has been receiving chemotherapy for over a year now. She needs to qualify on her own and carry the mortgage payments on herself.

Recently Kate found an acceptable place listed at $441,000. She made an unconditional offer at $480,000. There were 22 other offers that night, and the property sold for $551,800. Once again, she lost out on a home and her search continues.