Single Parents: Housing & Moving
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Single Parents: Housing & Moving
I am finally in a position to buy a house, but am now getting
cold feet. I went through nasty divorce and spent many years
painstakingly rebuilding my credit. i am now going to be able
to get a loan with 95% financing, i have been looking at homes
and am excited but worried that i don't have a good
understanding of all the expenses involved with owning home. I
have three teenage daughters and am self employed. If I put 5%
down, I'll still have approx. $12,000 left in savings even if I
pay $5,000 in closing costs. I am looking at a purchase price
of $650,000. I think what scares me is the thought of a
monthly mortgage payment of $3500 to $4000 (inc. taxes etc.)
For the last ten years, I have been paying $1900 per month in
rent. At the same time it seems to be a buyers market right
now and I don't want to miss the opportunity. I want to
provide some sort of security for my daughters and want to do
the right thing. Any thoughts or advice would be greatly
Below is my take on it - but you should probably talk to an
accountant for a more accurate picture. Also, if you do a Google
search for rent vs buy, there are calculators online to help you
Costs of owning a home for you (very loose estimate):
$32500 - downpayment, $3500/month - mortgage ($42000/yr), $8000/
yr - approx prop taxes in Bay Area, plus maintainance and
utilities, minus tax breaks (this is the part an accountant could
So give or take $50,000 annually + your downpayment (DP)
Costs of renting:
$1900/month - $23000/year
Here's the main question for you from my point of view: would
your house appreciate enough to make the extra $25,000 a year
(plus your DP) you're paying worth it? Or would you be better off
renting and saving that extra money? And imagine if you really
were able to save $25K a year into a savings or investment
account. That's not small potatoes!
The other thing to consider is if the real estate market were to
take an even bigger dip. 5% doesn't give you much of a cushion
and you could end of owing more than your home is worth. Making
your home a liability instead of an asset.
Renting might not be a bad idea?
Don't buy the house. If your children are already teen-agers,
then you are going to be ready to downsize when the flock leaves
the nest at the same time that they are going to be looking to
you to help them out with college expenses.
Continue renting and sock away the difference between your rental
and your 'mortgage' to build up some more savings. Buy a condo
in a few years when they go off to college if you really want to
get into the homeowners market.
Trust your gut if you're getting cold feet. We bought a house
for half the price of what you are looking at, and I think our
closing costs were about 10k - so if you've been told they'd
only be $5k, make sure you read the fine print.
Also, carefully review what type of loan you're getting. Go to
www.bankrate.com to do some calculations. Interest rates are
holding steady right now, but with a fixed 30-year loan at 6%
(so a loan of $615k or so), I calcuate payments of $3700. Then
you should add on about $1k or so for property taxes and home
insurance. That's $4700 per month.
Then there's all the upkeep on a house. I remember being
surprised by all the work and all the costs associated with
owning and maintaining a house.
I think renting at your current rent is still a deal and you
could invest the downpayment, and maybe a bit of what you
thought you would need to pay on the mortgage, in the stock
market or even CDs or a money market...and still provide your
children with stablity.
I am not surprised that you are getting cold feet. You are
thinking about borrowing $600,000+ and you are used to a monthly
housing cost under $2,000/month. My concern is that you only
have $12,000 in reserve. This suggests to me that you have not
been able to save much after paying your rent. Is this correct
or have you had outlays that you will not have in the future?
How are you going to cover the additional $2,000 each month? Not
long from a $12,000 reserve. Maybe you have been paying off
other debt. My advice would be to have a larger cushion before
you take on this size obligation. If over the next 12 months you
can save $2,000 a month and your reserve is up to $35,000 or so
then revisit this. Before you buy make sure that you can cover
the monthly cash flow required for taxes, insurance and a FIXED
RATE MORTGAGE (and have a reserve for maintenance, repairs and
other unexpected life events). Don't even consider an adjustable
rate mortgage. If this isn't possible then consider a less
expensive house that you can afford. Do not enter into this
being stressed out with how you are going to make it work. If
you do you will pay emotionally, mentally, physically and
According to the above December 2006 Fortune article Oakland is
predicted to be one of the markets to fall farthest in 2007 and
2008. It is expected to drop almost 5% this year, and then drop
another 2.5% in 2008. Why not pretend you are paying that
$4000/month for the next year and put the $2100 surplus in the
bank. Buy in a year or so, and you'll have an extra $25,000 to
put toward your down payment. If you can't save that extra
$2100/month you'll know that you wouldn't be able to pay the
mortgage either. This is not a bad time to be renting.
wondering whether to buy, too
As a single mom and homeowner, if you are experiencing cold feet,
listen to yourself. I have decided to sell b/c though I paid
almost 100k less w/20% down, I simply can't afford the house by
myself. I have put more than 40k into necessary repairs (roof,
foundation, sidewalks etc) and then the taxes...it is too much
for a single person unless you are earning a significant (and I
mean SIGNIFICANT) salary. and you must take care in case the
market dips further lest you end up owing more...good luck.
Please know that it is alright to rent and not own, especially
in a market like ours. When the cost of a house eats up most
of a normal person's salary, requires you to work long hours
and/or more than one job, takes you away from you family, and
causes enormous anxiety, it is not worth it. There are so many
hidden costs to owning a house, like maintenance and repairs,
in addition to the not hidden costs like mortgage, insurance
and taxes. If your desire to own a house stems from equity
envy, then consider renting, and putting the difference between
the rent you pay and the mortgage you would have paid into a
savings vehicle that is indexed to the stock market. It is
just fine not to own.
There's a terrific rent vs. buy calculator on the New York
Times website. Here's the URL:
If that link doesn't work, try
http://patrick.net/housing/crash.html . Patrick publishes the
link on his site.
It's pretty hard to justify purchasing a Bay Area house right
now, if one's rationale for buying is a financial one.
Renting, and investing the difference, looks much wiser.
House shy for now
I have two young children and a hectic job that doesn't allow me
to be present with my kids in the way that I really want and
think they need. So I'm thinking of quitting my job, selling my
house and relocating to a more rural environment. I'll stay close
enough that they can have regular visits with their very loving
and involved father.
As I contemplate this move, which is so out of character for me
(being very grounded in the East Bay) I am wondering if any of
you out there have relocated, somewhat blindly, not following a
job but rather seeking a different lifestyle and environment? Did
you happen to be single with two little kids? I do not know
anyone in the area that I'm hoping to move to, but look forward
to creating a new community.
Am I crazy? What advice does anyone have for me? I really want to
do this, I'm just feeling scared about it and could use any words
I'm not single, but did relocate last year to Gilroy, which isn't completely rural
you compare it to Berkeley). I wanted a slower pace and got it, but I do miss
bookstores. On the other hand, I think the easier pace has let me stand back and
my kids a little more space. They're not on the treadmill, the way I felt we all
Berkeley. They can ride their bikes for hours and I'm not too worried. It does take
while to make friends so I'm a little worried that you'll be lonely unless you have
relationships set up before you move. Maybe find a mom's group that you can connect
with before you take the plunge?
Hello single mom out there. I have one child and am absolutely single
(wishing there were a loving father to visit). My life is more hectic than is
healthy and I am missing nature in a big way as well as some quiet. It
has occurred to me to rent my house and try something out somewhere
else and I have also thought of selling and buying into a duplex/triplex
with other families. The community part is s big one and as single
parents we really need it so we can stay conncected to ourselves and
I'll be very interested to see what sort of advice you receive.
moving soon too?
Yep, just did it. Though, I did have a husband in tow.
Early in our marriage, my husband and I decided that we ''worked
to live'' rather than ''lived to work.'' Despite that core
philosophy, we still found ourselves living in a place where we
were working too much, spending too much time in traffic, etc.
So, last April, we formulated a plan to move to a slower pace of
life. It took six months to get all of the pieces into place,
but here we are.
It is important to look at the 'rural' environment to which you
plan to move. For instance, Sebastopol may be easier to deal
with than Stockton. Our new home town is about 10,000 people,
and is surrounded by open spaces, cows, horses, etc. The
population is generally made up of other like minded folks (well
educated folks from around the country with broad ideas and a
welcoming demeanor). The town is 30 minutes to a major
international airport in one direction and the open west in the
-like smll town life
We lived in San Francisco & Oakland for 15 years and LOVED
every single minute of it. Then we had a baby and I wanted to
stay home. By the time he was 16 months, we knew we had to get
out of there because it is just too expensive to live. My
husband worked 14 hour days and we could barely make it so it
became quite stressful for all of us.
We moved to a very small town (32,000) in N Washington and have
not regretted it at all. There are cows in the fields, really
nice people say hello to you on the street, Democratic state
with like minded people (we have inter-racial friends, gay
friends, etc). We made 100K profit on our 2 bed/2bath 1908
Craftsman house and bought a 4 bed/2bath 1979 house on an 8,000
sq ft lot in town for $150,000. Our school system is one of
the top schools in the state.
We are close to Seattle (60 miles) and Canada (45 miles) and we
visit each place quite often.
So with all of that, I would suggest that you move to an area
with people who have the same beliefs, politics, etc or else
you will never have ''real'' friends. You will make friends
easily with kids and finally, your kids will adjust and be
happier because you are around more.
don't regret the move at all
I am a single mother with one child, and I am single, and three
years ago I made the decision you are making now. When my
child was very small, I could manage to work at nights and take
care of him during the day--but when he started to school, I
was gone at night and he was gone during the day, and that was
clearly not going to go away and not going to work for us. I
left everything: my job, house, car, family and friends (though
not my connections to all of these)--and the Bay Area, where I
have spent most of my life and enjoyed a high standard of
living. I moved overseas alone with my child, and although it
is often difficult and I often listen to KDFC FM just for their
between-pieces recording of the waves lapping in the Bay--I am
very, very happy with my decision to relocate. I recommend
it. There is really nothing that EVEN the Bay Area has to
offer that can compare with the gratitude I feel for time with
my child in a place where children are more integrated into the
general goings-ons (no babysitters!) and can walk on the
streets even very young. I surely miss the Bay Area weather,
the food, the cultural intensity, the used bookstores, etc.--
but although my Standard of Living is lower here, I have to say
that my Quality of Life is much, much higher. That is not to
say that it must be so for everyone, but my/our particular set
of circumstances has surely made it so for me/us.
I sometimes ask my child if he would like to go back to the
U.S.--if he feels that he is missing out on something--the
choice is between all that the Bay Area has that we don't have
here--and our time together to cook and go adventuring and
handle schoolwork and all that. I just couldn't find a way to
have it all over there, not as a single mother, although I hope
it's different for others. In any case, my boy has never
wanted to give up our time together--he says he'll have plenty
of time in his life without me and he'd rather have our time
together while we have the choice. Studies show that children
often feel that way.
Good luck to you!--there are good things to be had everywhere,
and for everything you lose by moving, there will be something
new you gain that you can't even imagine now....... Also
remember that ''moving away'' isn't what it was 20 years ago--
there are email and phone cards and webcam and skype and so
many ways to be in touch--and you can always read here on BPN
for a blast of home that touches the heart in all the right
Relocated; Homesick But Happy
I am a single mom of two- when I became a single mother, one daughter was 2 and
the other 6 weeks. I sold my condo in SF and moved to the east bay where I have
been renting and working part time ever since. Not as drastic as the move you are
describing, but it felt huge to be, having been in the mission for 11 years at the
time that I moved.
the only advice that I can think of is this: it may be more difficult than you
to create your own new community. I found that staying close enough that I could
see my old friends while making some new ones kept me sane. I felt kind of like a
fish out of water when I first moved. Not isolated or anything, just unfamiliar
my surroundings. Now, three years later, I still can't believe I am in the east bay
some times, but I do not regret my decision to change my financial demands so that
I could have my time as my own for my girls.
east bay now
Maybe the move will be great, but you're expressing a lot of doubt, which makes
think you ought to take this decision slowly and give it some cool-headed,
consideration. It might be useful to go see a counselor for a few sessions to
try to get
clearer about exactly what you hope to achieve with this move and whether those
hopes are realistic, to think through all the ways it would affect you, your
their father, some of which are probably not obvious, and to make sure you've
considered all possible solutions (e.g., changing jobs without moving, giving
a trial period, etc.). Good luck!
I am a little late in responding to your posting but here goes! When I was
and my daughter was 6 months old we moved out of the Bay Area up to Santa Rosa
thinking that the country life was what we wanted. It wasn't, not really. I
isolated and lonely. My then-husband worked 12-14 hours a day, left before we
woke and came home right before the baby went to sleep. We didn't have much
money as I wasn't working then, we lived on the ''other side of the tracks''
It wasn't the paradise that I had imagined. I contacted a midwife up there to
other women who had given birth to children around the same time. I finally
few moms who also wanted to hang out during the day and we formed a little
mother's group which I say now saved my life!! We eventually moved back to the
and divorced. There were times I thought of moving away for a better more calm
but I know that I am basically an urban person and need that stimulation. It
good learning experience though, and fun at times too. As the years wear on, as
they do, I feel that I can't move now (daughter now 15) because of her friends.
are SO important to her now. It might've been easier when she was younger,
I think she has gotten alot from this urban place. We do escape to country-like
beach-type places periodically which satisfies us both for a while.
So, I guess what I would say to you about moving is make sure you know what's
important to you and try to find a place that you will fit into.
I will be moving this summer for an academic position in another
state with my 10 yr. old. I have never had to search for housing
while moving (when I moved to the Bay Area, it was into family
housing). I will be able to afford to rent a house (not buy) but
the schools in the new town vary a lot, so I need to stick within
a particular area of town in hopes of getting into one of the
better elementary schools. I'm planning a trip to secure housing
about a month before the big move. Any advice on how long I'll
need to stay to secure a place to live? Will 3 days be enough or
do I need to try for a week? Also, any single parents out there
with advice on how to deal with logistics when moving - unloading
help, that kind of thing? Has anyone used the UHaul links to
hired help with good results? Any other tips or advice greatly
about to be tenure track
Since you already know what neighborhoods you want, try to find
out what the usual local channels is for finding rentals. Do
you join a rental agency, hire a realtor, get a subscription to
the local newspaper (or check it online)? My suggestion would
be to line up several places to look at ahead of time, and set
up appointments with the landlords by phone. If it's a
university town, they are used to people coming and going,
although they may not hold anything for you either.
I didn't move alone, but maybe our experience will be helpful
in any case. My husband and I just moved out of California
with our two kids. We found that the three day visit prior to
moving was just not enough time to rent a place, mostly because
we had not decided on a neighborhood yet so we couldn't really
narrow our search. It sounds like you have already decided on
a neighborhood, so maybe three days will be enough for you.
What we ended up doing was just living in one of those weekly
hotels with a mini kitchen and laundry facilities- it was like
$150 per week. Within 6 days, we had found a place to rent and
moved in. Also what helped was moving our stuff in containers
with ABF - Even though our stuff arrived at the freight
terminal on Wednesday, it was no problem that we didn't pick it
up until Saturday. If we had used a moving company, we would
have had to get an address lined up prior to moving, or pay for
storage, etc. I would recommend going to movingscam.com to look
for advice about moving companies and finding good helpers. It
is a fabulous resource. Good luck with your move!
Glad to be done with moving
I'm a single mom with a three year and I just moved recently.
Mine was only a mile down the street, but even still I can tell
you some good advice: Hire some laborers. Anytime, I have to
move, I box up as much as I can, go rent a truck, then drive by a
Home Depot and there are usually a plethera of daylaborers
waiting for someone to need help. I hire two men at $15/hour and
take them to the location where they load up everything in an
hour. I am usually finished with the truck in four hours or
less. I will never move another box myself. It is definitely
worth it to get help. Then you have energy to direct your child
in helping with smaller stuff, cleaning as you leave etc.
I am a single mom with a 10-mth-old son, and I have been
looking for apartments to rent in the east bay, but it has been
much harder than I thought. I can only afford a one-bedroom,
and it seems like many places that I have looked at have
overtly or subtly said that they weren't interested in renting
to a mom with a baby. One person said, ''Sorry, we're a
childless building.'' I have perfect credit and am financially
solvent, and have never had an issue renting an apartment, so
it seems to me that the only new factor is my son. Is this
illegal? And can anyone give me any suggestions as to how to
approach prospective landlords regarding the situation?
I am a single parent, but have not had to hunt for apartments as such,
since I was already in my current apartment when I adopted my son. I
have read up on the laws though, so I can tell you my (non-expert)
Yes, it is absolutely illegal for landlords to refuse to rent to you
because you have a child. They are allowed to limit the number of
people they will rent a unit to, but the limit must be reasonable, and
the same for all families. So, a landlord could refuse to rent you a 1
br apartment if they have a one person limit in such apartments, but not
if they would rent the same apartment to a childless couple. I
recommend calling the rent boards in Berkeley and in Oakland to get more
details on your rights, and advice on what to do if you believe you have
been discriminated against because of your child.
I'll be interested in hearing what others have to say about this -- I
will probably be apartment hunting in another year or so, so I may need
the advice too!
Not renting to a single mom with a 10-month old simply because you are
single, a mom or have a 10-month old is not legal. If you had applied
for some apartments and were turned down for bad credit or poor
references or something like that, it would be a different story. But
it doesn't sound like this is the case. If anyone blatently says they
won't rent to you, file a complaint (see link below).
A complex for ''senior citizens only'' would be the only place you could
be excluded legally.
Here's a link to some information:
- Be totally up front about your situation and eventually you'll find a
landlord who is kid friendly. It'll probably be a better situation than
if you end up with a less understanding landlord.
- Be not quite up front, yet completely truthful. On the application
put down two tenants, but don't voluntarily disclose that one is a
As a real estate broker, I can tell you that what you have described is
called familial discrimination. It's against the law and you should
report them directly to the Fair Employment and Housing with the State
of California. I was a landlord for 17 yrs and am still amazed that
there are ignorant/discriminatory landlord/property managers out there!
I had a simular problem. What i ended up doing was not saying i had a
child, but looking at apartments alone and informing landlords after
I'd been offered a place that i had a kid. If they then remove their
offer this is illegal. I just left blank the place on applications that
asked who would be living there.
It worked for me and I'm in a great place.
Best of luck to you!
Please note the following is not legal advise and is for informational
The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to deny rental housing simply
because you have a child under 18. There are exceptions for senior
citizen housing (perhaps that's what they meant by ''child free
You can get more information and/or file a complaint with the CA
Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Here is a link to
more information: http://www.dfeh.ca.gov/complaint.asp.
You can find more information about the Fair Housing Act and/or filing a
complaint with the US Dept of Housing and Urban Development at
There are also local fair housing organizations that may be able to
provide more information. You can get a list of such organizations from
the National Fair Housing Alliance
I hope this helps.
You are right about it being illegal to be refused an apartment because
of your child, but on the other hand you might not want to be in a
building that doesn't want children, as they might be unfriendly or
complain about child noises, which would, in turn make you
uncomfortable. I am also a single mom and have looked and found several
apartments since my daughter was born (in fact I've moved TOO many
times). I would keep looking and the right place will come up. Get your
priorities straight, what you definetely want in a new place, what you
can live without. It's really a process of compromising with yourself. I
wouldn't bring the baby with you at first, so you can really focus on
the place and the landlord. I think I also just mentioned in passing
that I have a child, didn't make a big point of it. It's natural so why
should it be a big deal? Eventually you will find a nice place for you
and your son, it takes a while though. I'm sure you already have tried
craig's list, also eHousing is a good place too (look for discount
coupon in East Bay Express).
settled single mom
Girl, you and me both. When I email landlords and tell them I'm a single
mother (great credit, great income) with two toddlers I don't even get a
response. As far as the person who told you no children, report
immediately to Sentinel Fair Housing in Oakland, they are for all of
Alameda COunty. Very nice for the most part. I think part of deal is
that Berkeley is so full of students looking for places that landlords
simply prefer them.
Only landlords who are prejudice of course. Which is most I've found. I
am a homeowner and I'm selling my condo so I'll be renting again in
Albany or Berkeley. As a homeowner, I was once going to rent my condo,
and I specifically put in my ad ''SINGLE MOTHERS WELCOME'' because I had
been discriminated against before and I was so devastated by it. It is
really discouraging to think that you are not wanted any longer or
somehow considered risky or irresponsible because you are single mother.
But the fact is, there are many many people who think being a single mom
is really a bad thing. Please report the person who told you that and
KEEP SEARCHING. You might try Albany or El Cerrito, they have more
families v. students...so are most likely more open to renting to
whoever wants the place. Email me, we can discuss further and share
notes - since I'll be looking soon too. Anita anita
By someone outright telling you that they are a ''childless building''
you could sue them for housing discrimination. Please call the CA dept.
of fair employment and housing and file a complaint. Also if you feel
that you are being discriminated against and even if it isn't outright
but you suspect this you can call Sentinel Fair Housing in Oakland and
they can investigate your claim.(This is NOT ok!) You will find a nice
apartment soon if you keep looking. I know as a single mom I found a
great apartment and it turned out to be just right. I feel for you ,
Your message really struck me because I am also a single mom with a son
and recently moved into an apartment for both of us.
I am disheartened to know that you have been made to feel by landlords
that having your child is a hindrance to your qualifications as a
tenant. My understanding is that is illegal for landlords to
discriminate on that issue. When I was apartment hunting, I would tell
the landlords that I have a child and ask if it was a problem. Each one
said no and that it's illegal for it to be. Check it out with the the
Housing Agency in your county and report each incidence. My
understanding is that landlords can deny or approve rental based on
credit history, rental history, employment, and pets, but not on race,
gender, or family type (kids or no kids). On the other hand, I also know
that there are inherent subtlties when it comes to picking a renter,
like if you're a college student or young adult, there may be concerns
about paying the rent on time or partying or being too loud. Perhaps the
concern they have with your child is of the noise. In certain rentals
(like some of the duplexes here in Berkeley), the potential noise level
would be considered a valid concern. But, that said, according to my
co-worker who is also a landlord, (and I
quote) ''what you were told about not renting to you because it's a
childless building is highly illegal and you could nail that landlord to
the wall for discrimination''. If you would like to chat more about
this, feel free to email me at email@example.com.
happy to be single mom
Even though I am not surprised, I'm upset that someone's tell you that
they are a ''childless building.'' There are enough of the usual issues
without that adding to your list. And yes, it's totally illegal and you
can report them to the rent board, unless it's slotted as an official
senior or adult community.
As an owner of rental properties (my husband usually handles selecting
tenants, but I sometimes do as well) I can tell you that we tend to rent
to people who we think won't require a lot of our time or need a lot of
''hand-holding.'' Of course, we realize that the very needy person can
be a man, woman, single, couple, with or w/ out kids. We just try to
figure it out when meeting the potential individual. My guess is that
you are being classified as a ''high needs'' person due to your baby.
My suggestion is to apply to places that may be smaller (duplex or
example) where the owner or an individual person is renting the unit -
not one of those places where you get someone who sifts through rental
applications all day as their job. And when you meet the owner/manager,
make sure you get the message across that you are a strong, independent,
capable mother who respects the need for everyone to have a nice living
Two incidentals: We just rented a duplex unit to a singer mother last
weekend (we chose her over a couple w/ no kid.) And, I'm not knocking
property management companies (that's my husband's business) but I think
that some of those big ones
are very impersonal.
Yes. it is illegal.
I went through a pretty much identical time when my daughter was just
under a year old. It was very hard & saddening. I was told that you can
report people to the renter's board, that it is just as illegal as
choosing by color of skin. I never reported anyone, but I was encouraged
to by others. I'm sorry. All I can tell you is after about a terrible
month of being, as you say, condemned for being a single mom, I finally
found a great little house and am here still. Craigslist ended out being
the best answer for me, but perhaps someone will read this that can help
you. There are people out there who will treat you kindly, they're just
hard to find. If there is anything I can do for you, let me know.
I am the parent of twin 8 mo. girls and am a real estate agent and apt.
manager. It is very illegal not to rent to a person with children,
unless the building has a special federal section for housing for
seniors only. There are some avenues you could pursue if you wanted.
Just email back I will be glad to give you some places to go. Also, I
happen to have a large
1 bedroom at Lake Merritt and would be happy to show it to you. The
onsight manager is a mother herself. The apt. is $900 and one is coming
up for $895. I hope I can help out.
YES, it most certainly IS illegal for a landlord to discriminate against
because you have a child. They cannot HAVE a ''childless'' building, and
file a suit against a landlord that will not rent to you because you
have a child. I
recommend that you start by ontacting the rent board(s) for what ever
cities the apartments in question were located and let them know about
Best of luck
Yes, this is illegal. Fair housing law protects people from
discrimination based upon
family or marital status. Nonetheless, this is unfortunately still one
of the most
common forms of housing discrimination in the East Bay. Contact Sentinel
in Oakland for information on your rights and strategies for coping with
your housing search. Good luck!
I am sure that this is not legal, but I am not a lawyer. I am
writing to tell you that I had a very similar experience in
January of 2004 when I was looking for a one bedroom for
myself and my two little girls.
I found my place through Wellington Properties
510-338-0588 in Oakland. Everyone who I dealt with there
was very nice and helpful. I actually looked at one place and
the person who was showing it to me said ''is this for the
three of you? this is too small, we have one that is bigger
and has a yard'' and he brought me to the other apartment.
I can't remember his last name, but his first name was
Randy. Good luck to you and I hope this helps
another single mom
I was disappointed by callous landlords a couple of times when I started
looking for an apartment with my toddler. I eventually found out that a
landlords are delighted to rent to single mothers because we don't keep
outrageous hours, we are very dependable when it comes to keeping an eye
the property and we actually care about the upkeep of the outdoor space
play area. You might try these selling points. My landlords have
me a cornerstone.
You didn't say (or I don't recall) if you were looking in Berkely (which
I beleive has rent control) or another east bay city where rent control
isn't a factor. It is ILLEGAL in the State of California to
descriminate against families with children. In Alameda where I live
(and other local cities too I assume), it's a rental market and
appartments have gone vacant for weeks/months so landlords have been
lowering rents or not raising rents when they have good tennants. If
you are able to look outside of Berkeley, I would try that. If that
isn't an option, I would 1) go with a rental agency (you are less likely
to get discriminated against by a landlord). If paying the rental fee
is a factor (usually 1/3 of 1st month's rent), all local agencies have
listings where the fee is paid by the landlord (not many but some). 2)
Carry a voice activated micro tape recorder when you go look at
appartments that way you have proof should you need it that you are
being discrimated against.
That said, do you really want to live in a building that doesn't have
children living there already? Your child is only 10 months now but
there will come a time when s/he will want to play with other kids and
it's handy to have kids in the building around the same age to be able
to play in each other's rooms or outside (under adult supervision of
Best of luck in your new home search,
I am a single mother and I decided to buy a home (I don't know where). I can't ask my friends for help because most of them are international visitors, and somehow I am embarrassed of asking my American friends. I have good credit history and as my son is more independent, I can get another part time job.
I want to start educating myself (I am reading ''Homebuyers for
Dummies''), but I want to know if there is any non-profit
organizations that help first time owners, and more
especifically for women (I kind of feel intimidated by men
I do not want to take classes at adult schools.
Any insights appreciated!
We just bought our first place and felt totally adrift. Truthfully, the best info that I got was from other people who had bought homes. It was very hard for me to find impartial, helpful info that was not a sales pitch. The books are great for helping to understand different financing stretegies, but I found it overwhelming and not as clear about the whole process as it could be. If you would like to bounce some questions off of me, I would be happy to help.
Karen Ward, who is a mortgage broker on Solano in Albany, holds free 2-hour workshops every month for first-time homebuyers and women buying homes for the first time. I haven't attended one, but as a first-time homebuyer she helped me through every step of the process, patiently explained everyhting, and never made me feel stupid. Check out her website at www.reloan.com or call her at 510.559.4000. The Dummies books can help with basic info, but the real estate market here is so different that it's good to talk to someone who knows it. Good luck!
My landlady has just given me the awful news that she is going to sell the
house my daughters and I have lived in for almost nine years. Besides
putting a message on the Household services part of this listserve &
signing up for the UC Staff/Faculty Housing Service, is there anything else
I can do to find a new place? We currently live in El Cerrito near the
Albany border, in a small 3 bedroom house with very reasonable rent & would
like to stay in the same area. How can I make this situation easier on my
kids (7 & 11)? They don't remember living anywhere else. I'm trying to
protect them from my own anxieties, but I have this sinking feeling that
our quality of life is about to go down, that whatever we find will be
smaller or more expensive or farther from work/school or in a less pleasant
neighborhood, or all of the above! I'm so fed up with being at the mercy
of landlords that I'm wondering if there is any way a single parent with a
modest income can actually buy a house or condo. How do people with almost
no savings come up with a down payment? How can I find out how much of a
mortgage I could qualify for? Any advice or suggestions would be greatly
The answer is yes! With some research on how the process works and the right
agent, you will make it happen, although perhaps not as soon as you may need to
move. See if you can negotiate with the new owner for more time if you plan on
more than an interim move.
In my experience, more important than the amount of money you have for a down
payment is how your credit looks. Good to excellent credit gives you more
financing options which almost always means less money out of your pocket. There
are indeed legitimate financing programs that require as little as 3% down, but
I cannot emphasize enough how good credit goes a long way to get this. Look
specifically for loan programs that cater to low to moderate income buyers or
are aimed at targeting "redevelopment" areas. Programs like this are found both
through lenders as well as through government agencies. Keep an open mind about
the area. Neighborhoods that may seem borderline now are slowly being turned
around by people just like you and me. Even though you may not consider Oakland
as an option (where we happily live) they have an example of a program like I
FHA and Fannie Mae are other resources:
I know you want to keep as much of this away from your kids as possible, but
minus the stress element, it could prove to be a wonderful learning opportunity
for them as well as you and a lot of fun looking at homes together.
I used to work for the City of Emeryville, and the Emeryville
Redevelopment Agency has a first time homebuyer's program that offers
0 or very low down payment loans for people who qualify for the income
guidelines. You have to buy in Emeryville to take advantage of the
program. All redevelopment agencies are required by state law to
devote a certain percentage of their tax increment financing to
affordable housing so they are a good place to start. I believe that
El Cerrito has a redevelopment agency, as does Richmond, Berkeley, and
Oakland. You should check with the Cities and their Redevelopment
Agencies that you are interested in and see if they offer the same
kind of program. Also, they will know if there are private housing
developments in the city that offer similar kinds of programs.
We bought our house in 1997 for less than $10,000 cash
for the down payment and closing costs. We patched
together the money with a $2,000 grant from a bank
that needed to fulfill it's community lending
requirements (mortgage brokers know about these
things), a $600 rebate from a credit card for letting
them make the referral to the realtor (check your
credit card mailings for special offers), $3,000
gifted from our parents, $250 from a garage sale, and
the rest from our meager savings. I did not believe
that it could be done, and yet it happened.
There are Alameda County mortgage assistance programs
for modest income people. There are also some city
programs. I know Emeryville has one to help moderate
income families buy houses. And there are
homeownership affordable housing developments done
sometimes by cities and sometimes by non-profit
developers. You'd have to ferret out the opportunities
and I'm not sure how to do that, but you could ask
someone at the Northern California Land Trust in
Another good step would be to meet with a mortgage
broker. They shop for loans for you and it doesn't
cost you anything. They can give you a pretty good
financial picture. A lot of people like John Riccardi
in Berkeley. We used John Assily at the Bank of Walnut
In short, I believe it can be done if you can put
together a patchwork of sources.
Also, are you sure that your landlord can ask you to
leave? Call Sentinel Fair Housing for information.
Best of luck. I mean that most sincerely. After 12
years of renting, I too was sick of being at the mercy
of landlords. It's one of my life goals to never rent
I just wanted to add my two cents worth...if you do not have a
downpayment, you may want to contact the Nehemiah Corporation of
California ( http://www.nehemiahcorp.org/) for downpayment and
financing assistance. Also, talk with your landlord and see if s/he
is willing to sell to you on a lease-to-own basis. What this does is
allow a percentage or set amount of your rent payments to apply toward
a down. You may want to check out a book on lease-to-own (try
Berkeley Public or Oakland Public for any Nolo Press or Consumer
Reports books on homeownership). Also, you may want to consider
moving to another area such as Oakland where the city offers mortgage
assistance programs. A couple of years ago the city of Oakland
offerred first and second mortgage assistance for the purchase of a
home in areas designated as redevelopment zones. Such areas should
include downtown Oakland as well as the Embarcadero area where plans
are in place to develop 'mixed use' housing (i.e., townhouses with
cafes and shops on the ground floor). With some grunt work and
research, I think you find you are able to buy a house that will suite
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