A Single parent balances work, children and finances daily, this doesn’t stop most single parent households from the desire to purchase a home. Home ownership to many single parent families represents the ability to achieve self-sufficiency and economic independence, to other single parent households it is a way to provide a stable, engaged environment for their children. It may seem like a greater task for a single parent to obtain home ownership, but with the correct approach it can be done.
In 2012 I suddenly found myself in debt, behind on every bill I had and at the end of my 11 year marriage. If being a single parent wasn’t costly enough I was a parent to a special needs child, which roughly cost me $5,000 in medication per year. I had no idea how I was going to survive being a single parent with one income. We had just signed a 2 year lease on a home that was $1095 a month! I was stuck in this lease, so I had no choice but to call my landlord and come up with a plan, she graciously reduced my rent to $800 a month for a few months. I created a monthly budget, sold every piece of gold I had and got caught up on all my household bills. Staying on my budget and making sure I didn’t pay my bills late was a key factor.
Over the next year I signed up for a monthly credit monitoring system and watched my credit scores closely. Having a special needs child and extensive medical treatment for him caused me to have numerous medical collections on my report. I tried disputing every medical collection on my own and had minimal success, if I only would have known about Credit Law Center then. The biggest factor in my credit scores was I didn’t have anything positive reporting. The first tax refund I received as a single parent was a significant amount, instead of going out and blowing all the money, I went and got a secured loan from my bank. I faithfully paid on time each month and never missed a payment. After about 6 months of paying I felt secure enough to apply for a credit card. I was instantly approved and afraid to use it! I knew I had to set limitations and not use it for things we didn’t need.
After 2 years of living on a budget and finding ways to make ends meet my lease was ending. I knew I wanted something a lot less expensive, but didn’t think I would qualify for a home loan based on my income. One day in January 2014, my best friend, who is a realtor, called and said she had a house for me to look at. Instantly, I told her there was no way I was getting approved. It took her several minutes to encourage me to give it a try, I reluctantly took the name and number of the lender, and gave him a call. I still remember the fear of being turned down like it was yesterday, within 3 hours of my initial call my fear turned to pure excitement. The lender gave me the OK to start looking at houses, it all happened so fast and seemed too good to be true. My credit wasn’t perfect, but it was decent enough to get approved for a USDA loan.
That evening we went and looked at the house, as entered the house I knew immediately the house was meant for us. We submitted our offer that evening and within hours they accepted our offer. On February 27, 2014, I closed on my very own house; as I signed the mortgage papers that day I realized anything is obtainable as long as you give it your all. Thankfully the USDA loan allowed me to purchase the home with out a down payment, as I was unable to save for one.
When I decided to write this blog I never expected to write it about my journey of becoming a single parent home owner. I had many trials and tribulations along the way, however I wouldn’t go back in time and change a thing. Being a single parent home owner is not always easy and it comes with lots of responsibility, however it comes with many wonderful benefits. Home ownership has created a stable environment for my children, allowed us to belong to a community and allowed me to show my kids the importance of being self sufficient.
My story is like so many others that work at Credit Law Center, our employees love their job, and loves helping other’s dreams come true.
Steps to Take to Achieve Single Parent Home Ownership
1. Create a Budget
2. Do your best to pay all bills on-time to avoid late fees
3. Monitor your credit reports closely, make sure all items are reporting accurately.
4. Dispute items on your credit report that are not reporting correctly, seek out help from a professional.
5. Use any tax returns to help achieve positive credit, by getting a secured card or loan.
6. Research government grants and loans to help with the closing costs or other programs.
Credit Law Center has many different blogs and videos about the mortgage process and credit tips, a favorite is The Top 5 Credit Myths. This video explains what to look for on the credit report.
Credit Monitoring, Secured Cards and more at Freecredithub.com