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How to Buy a House While Your Husband is in Prison

single mom buying a house catherine tijerina

Buying a house was the impossible dream for me when Ron went to prison. 

I was convinced that I would never be able to achieve the prestigious label of “homeowner.”  I know some people CHOOSE to rent instead of buying a house, but I did not have a choice.  I didn’t have the income, nor the credit to be able to buy a house.  And I really wanted to buy my own home.  I felt my financial failure every time I saw a house for sale.  I argued with myself to let that dream go and just accept the fact that my fate had been sealed when Ron was sentenced to 14-25 years in prison.

Day after day I wrestled with myself. 

I knew my current circumstances well, so I knew that I was not able to purchase a home.  However, the desire to buy a house simply would not go away.  The more I thought about it, the more hope grew.  Before long, hope gave way to determination.  I became determined to figure out a way to buy my own house.  It was one of my top 3 goals.  All of them seemed so lofty to me: 1. Get off of food stamps 2. Build good credit  3. Buy a house.

Tears ran down my face and I was laughing at the same time.

buying a house while yor husband is in prison

I suppose I should have had “get a job” on my list. But I guess that seemed like stating the obvious.  Being eligible for a home mortgage is a huge accomplishment!  People who have never struggled to gain that prestigious level in society cannot imagine how rewarding it is to work so hard for so long and then finally, ARRIVE. I will never, ever, ever, ever forget the day I signed the papers to buy my first home.  Tears ran down my face and I was laughing at the same time. I am sure the lender was having second thoughts and wondering if I had lost my mind.  Moreover, I was overcome with gratitude. 

I often share my stories about getting off of welfare and buying my house, so people ask me how in the world I was able to buy a house while my husband was in prison.  My short answer, I never gave up.  I worked hard and kept my goal in front of me so I didn’t get distracted.  For most, that is enough.  But for people that really want to know HOW, that is the beginning of the questions.  Buying a house is a HUGE deal.  Navigating off welfare, and into homeownership can be tricky, but it CAN be done.

You can do it. 


Here is how to buy a house:

  1. Build a new reputation.  Pay your bills on time, pay your rent on time and pay off active bad debt. This will require a new level of self-control, therefore, keep your eyes on your goal.  Build a budget, live by it – and walking past the clearance rack will become easy.
  2. Visit a local bank.  Overcome your intimidation and fear of rejection.  Go and meet with a loan officer.  They will check your credit, review it with you and tell you what you need to do in order to qualify for a loan.  They will also give you information about programs that you may qualify for that will help you buy a house.
  3. Find the programs that will help you purchase a home and use them.  There are so many resources to help people become homeowners: down payment assistance, reduced interest loans, rural development loans, home repair grants, down-payment matching programs. Ask the bank you meet with who you should talk with about programs that are available in your area. If they don’t know, go to another bank. Keep asking until you find out who can help you and then meet with them. 
  4. Get to work.  Find a job and start saving.  Even if you qualify for a no or low down-payment loan, you will need money for utility deposits, decorating your new home, and for an emergency cushion so you don’t miss a payment when something breaks down.

This process could take you several years, but I promise you that every sacrifice you make will be worth it when you sit in your very own living room!  I still feel the attack of gratitude when I think about the fact that I am a homeowner. If I can do it, you can do it.

I am rooting for you!