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Advice on buying home as single mom

Jess09 posted 3/14/2021 11:35 AM

Single divorced mom here who is currently renting. I would love to buy a home and have been approved for a mortgage loan. I am super excited but at the same time scared. The lender used my child support as part of my income but it will be reduced by half in less than 3 years and completely stopped in leas than 5. Wouldnt it be smarter to do my loan without the child support factored in? Makes me nervous to include it if it wont be there as part of my income in the coming years. Anyone have any experience and advice on this?

AnnieOakley posted 3/14/2021 11:59 AM

The first thing to remember...just because you may qualify for XYZ loan/mortgage certainly does not mean that is what you can actually afford. The saying “house poor” is really true!

When my ex and I built our first home together 25+ years ago, we literally laughed when our agent showed us what we qualified for. We immediately took off 200k from the top number. Craziness.

You are absolutely correct in not thinking long term about the child support. Especially if your spouse should lose his job. On the other hand you can hopefully figure in that you will be getting pay increases as well over the years. Will you have 6 months in savings if you lose your job to continue paying the mortgage?

Look at your budget with a fine tooth comb. Especially if you have never owned a home before. Taxes, insurance, higher utilities, decorating, etc. can all add up very quickly!


BearlyBreathing posted 3/14/2021 13:03 PM

I agree with AnnieO. Buy what you can afford. Don’t count Child Support. Add in taxes, insurance, and ~10% of the mortgage payment for those things that happen- new water heater, roof leak.... stuff happens and you need a little put aside consistently to take care of those. Plus a new house has immediate costs — rugs, curtains, furniture, lawn mower, etc.

I’m guessing your kids are teens so buy according to where you will be in 1, 5, and 10 years— don’t buy too much house or yard if the kids will be moving out in a couple years.

Check that you can prepay on your loan— that way if you have extra money you can pay it down, but better to have those CS payments saved as a rainy day fund.

Karmafan posted 3/14/2021 14:28 PM

I bought my house two years ago and factoring in the child maintenance was the only way for me to get the mortgage in the first place. I took a risk and went for it, thinking that, if bad came to worse, I could always sell or downsize. Since then I had a couple of promotions at work and I could now afford the mortgage independently of the child maintenance.

My point is: circumstances do change, but they can also change for the better. When your children move out, new possibilities could open up for you at work, you could get a pay rise, remortgage at a lower interest rate etc. You do have options.

Would the mortgage be far more than what you are paying in rent? If the difference isn’t significant, I would go for it: buying property is an investment at the end of the day and, if it ever came to sell, you would most likely recover at least what you had put in. Unlike rent which is dead money.

Bigger posted 3/15/2021 06:40 AM

Since you mention CS will dry out I assume it’s because the kids reach adulthood (or 18 or whatever age is defined as them being “adult”).
My advice would be to buy a home that you can adapt to fit you all for 3 to 5 years.
It depends on your situation, but I personally would rather be without my desired crafts-room or home-office or dining room for three years and use that space as bedrooms (or even you sleep in the dining-room and let your oldest have the master) than have extra empty bedrooms and too much real-estate after 3-5 years. Kid #1 moves out and there you go! Move out of the dining room into the master. Kid #2 moves out and you have your home office.
IMHO a key-factor in real-estate is that to not lose on a purchase you generally need to live there +5 years to cover the costs of moving. Unless you plan to move again in +5 years then search for something that fits your FUTURE needs but can be adapted short-term. I’m guessing this advice could save you a room or two and thereby significant cash…

homewrecked2011 posted 3/15/2021 19:01 PM

Definitely don’t tell the lender child support will be ending.

But, let them prequalify you in that amount, then tell your realtor what price range you want. I suggest u get something you can afford w/o child support -because when your kids move out you’ll want to be able to afford to go see them!!! My kids both ended up at a Div 1 College and it was great being able to go see them on family weekend, etc. If they move and have children, I’ll want to be able to afford to take them on a family week vaca to the beach.

One last thing— I wish I would have bought a newer house. Mine is about to need a new A/C unit, new septic lines, electric is old, hardwood floors need to be redone. So, if you do go for older, just be sure to put serious $$ back.

Congrats, btw!!!!

[This message edited by homewrecked2011 at 7:02 PM, March 15th (Monday)]

DevastatedDee posted 3/15/2021 22:13 PM

I'd second everyone here on getting a mortgage on what you could afford on your own. Anything can happen with child support (job loss, etc.). It means a smaller house, but that will be perfectly okay in 3-5 years. I downsized in house when I bought mine and it's a great size for me when my kids move out in the next 2-4 years. Most importantly, it means a more affordable home. If a house costs you enough that you don't have any money left over for the inevitable repairs and such, you'll have a lot of added stress.

Bigger posted 3/16/2021 03:27 AM

-because when your kids move out you’ll want to be able to afford to go see them!!!

Maybe it‘s because I have late teenage / young-adult boys living at home, but the savings you make on groceries, gas, and nearly EVERYTHING will also kick in once you get rid of them!

twicefooled posted 3/16/2021 07:31 AM

I never have been able to get the opportunity to buy a home. I have rented my entire adult life. I don't feel like it's "dead" money because ultimately we all need a roof over our heads. The house I rent is way below market value because a buddy owns it and gave me a rent break in exchange for keeping his property in good condition. I am also not responsible for fixing anything that breaks - last summer our HVAC went out ($3000) and last month I needed a plummer ($700) and I definitely could not have afforded to fix it on my own.

If you buy, don't count on child support and if you get support put it away for the future or for lean months.

Just wanted to add in my 2 cents about renting, because a lot of us have never been in the position to do that.

homewrecked2011 posted 3/16/2021 08:12 AM

twicefooled makes a great point. Unless you have a family member who can make repairs for you, sometimes renting is good. And if you can get a great deal on a rental, too.,My youngest works in home construction so he replaced a damaged floor in the bathroom. He bought the materials for cheap, his boss let him use tools, and his brother helped. I could not afford this otherwise.

EvenKeel posted 3/16/2021 08:17 AM

Agree - do not equate what you are able to get financed for as meaning that is what you can afford. If I bought what I was approved for - I would be able to do squat!

Just because you are approved for a certain amount does not mean you need to spend that amount on a new home.

I would recommend you play around with budgets and find what YOU are comfortable spending on a mortage. Like others say, factoring in all the extra costs that go along with it (insurance, taxes, etc).

I was never comfortable relying on the CS for anything. I mean, even though my ex had the same job forever and it was garnished, anything could happen at any time.

Then you blink and CS is over but the costs are still going on.

DevastatedDee posted 3/16/2021 08:27 AM

Maybe it‘s because I have late teenage / young-adult boys living at home, but the savings you make on groceries, gas, and nearly EVERYTHING will also kick in once you get rid of them!

Facts! When my son went to college in 2019 I saved SO MUCH on groceries. Now he's going remote due to COVID and yeah...there's a difference.

nothisfriend posted 3/19/2021 10:37 AM

My XWH and I had rented for about 14 years before we D. As a first time home buyer I was able to qualify for a grant that paid $7500 toward my closing costs and down payment. It was a small little house but something I could easily manage as DS was about to go off to college. I really loved my little house; it was the perfect size for me and allowed me to own something I could afford.

Now 5 years later, BF retired and was going to move in with me. House across the street with more space and a garage came on the market. Because I was so smart and thrifty with the little house I was able to buy this one on my own. BF moved in early because working remotely until retirement. DS graduated college and wanted to move home until he can find a job in the very expensive big city. Got plenty of room for him as well. This is the house BF and I will live in the rest of our lives and be very comfortable.

So, get what you can afford. Check out programs - I found mine through the credit union where I got my mortgage. Anything can change in the next 5 years. It's amazing the benefit to my mental health owning my own home gave me.

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