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Is this a good idea?

Posted by PeaG (My Page) on
Thu, Jun 14, 12 at 23:21

I was advised on another part of this forum to post our situation, so here goes:

We are a late-30s couple who have, until very recently, always been living paycheck-to-paycheck. We have two daughters ages 3 and 1.

We recently entered ourselves in an "affordable homeownership" opportunity, expecting to get turned down, and wound up being offered a 1250 sq ft. condominium in a very expensive neighborhood. The median home purchase is probably around $1M in this town; average condo maybe $600K. The unit we were offered is less than $300K with a $400 a month condo fee. It has a resale restriction, which states that we can make little to no profit when we go to sell it.

We live in a very expensive urban area and have been getting by renting, saving very little, and living paycheck to paycheck. We're not currently living in the aforementioned pricey town, but still live in a relatively affluent nearby neighborhood and pay approx. $1700 a month plus utilities. This opportunity allows us to buy with little down, allows us to build equity, has great schools, and is 2.5 miles from my husband's job. And at the end of the day, the costs will be about the same. It's certainly not our dream home, and we can list many reasons why it's not perfect, but, at the end of the day, I think we will benefit from the forced saving in the form of equity, even if we only stay there for 5-7 years or so. We currently can't afford even the most modest of single family homes in this area, so, in my mind, this is basically our one shot to buy, and it keeps our monthly output at what we're paying for our rental now (which is, sadly, a much bigger and nicer place).

I've been told by my family that I'd be a fool not to take this place, and so far I've agreed, because I can't imagine my other options with such a limited down payment (currently about 10K if we don't touch our retirement incomes). But, maybe I'm being too simplistic? I'm admittedly dumb about money, so any advice is helpful. If you have questions, ask away. This place is not a bad opportunity, but not what we always hoped for (our own small space without shared walls, a yard, etc.), so if there's another way we should look at this, I'd love to hear it.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Is this a good idea?

If you can make no money when you go to sell it, then how are you building equity? It sounds like someone else is keeping any equity you build. Can you explain that sentence: "It has a resale restriction, which states that we can make little to no profit when we go to sell it."?


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RE: Is this a good idea?

Is this a state or federal program? If not, then be very very careful. There are LOTS of scams out there targeting folks in your position. Most are NOT legit. Consult a real estate attorney regardless. You need to have someone experienced on your side to protect you.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

It may be a great chance for you to pay for some place that is your own, but as kirkhall pointed out, you will not be buiding much equity if you cannot make a profit when you sell. Most equity would come from the increase, if any, in value in 5-7 years. Any equity you build will be due to paying down the mortgage.

Given that you only plan on living there 5-7 years, this "forced savings" (in the form of paying down the mortgage) that you speak about is pretty much nonexistent in that time frame. With a traditional mortgage most of your payment in that time period will be paying off the interest and not the loan balance. You might check out a few amortization calculators to see what I mean.

Is there some type of special financing being used?

I would view this as a chance to keep your housing costs fixed to some extent. Also know that even though your mortgage maybe a fixed amount, the HOA fees, and certainly property taxes, can go up.

I'm not suggesting that you not take this opportunity to keep your housing costs fixed, but go in knowing everything.

Like live-wire said, know who is running this program and for what purpose.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

Posted by kirkhall (My Page) on Fri, Jun 15, 12 at 0:14
If you can make no money when you go to sell it, then how are you building equity? It sounds like someone else is keeping any equity you build.

We're building equity by paying down the mortgage. According to an amortization calculator I did online, we'll pay over $4,000 a year toward the loan. So, if we live there for 5 years, we'll be saving over $20,000 simply by paying what we're paying now for rent.

live_wire_oak: This is through the town, and is in accordance with a state-mandated affordable homeownership law that states that for all new construction, 15% must be set aside for low and/or moderate income families. We are considered a moderate income family of four. It's definitely legit.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

"So, if we live there for 5 years, we'll be saving over $20,000 simply by paying what we're paying now for rent. "

Ha! As a first time homeowner, you will certainly end up spending WAY more than you think. Beyond that, if something breaks, you have to fix it. In 5-7 years, lots of stuff is going to break.

Honestly, you can't afford a house at this point. If you are living paycheck to paycheck, you need to see a credit counselor and get your budget in order. That may very well involve downsizing your rental and continuing to rent. If you are living in an affluent community now and considering applying for subsidized housing, something is very wrong with your current spending habits.

And it's good you recognize you aren't good with money. Now you need to do something about it. If your family is the one who failed to teach you about money in the first place, that probably isn't the best place to look for advice. The NFCC would be a great starting point and can hook you up with free or low cost financial help in your area. They can help you put together a plan to legitimately get you on your way to home ownership or any other goals you have.

Here is a link that might be useful: NFCC


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RE: Is this a good idea?

Sorry, no this is a bad idea. What you are not considering is that it costs a lot when you try to sell a home. Starting with 5-6% in realtor fees, plus possible closing costs, plus repairs demanded by the buyer. Any equity you build in 5-7 years would quickly be consumed. That is even if the deal is legit.

Other expenses of home ownership include all the repairs along the way, insurance, and taxes. One can easily lose a great deal of money in real estate if not educated and careful.

You need to take the time to learn about finances, and also live significantly below your means to get a larger down payment. If you are living paycheck to paycheck that means you are not ready to buy a house. I know lots of people do this, but lots of people are getting foreclosed on too.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

Well, there might be a another financial reason for doing this. Even if you can't resell at a higher price, the interest and property taxes you pay each year are income tax deductions. Depending on which tax bracket you fall in, this can be a consideration.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

Please show the math you use to get your mortgage to come out to the same as your rent. It doesnt add up, even with creative math.

Current rent $1,700.00 month

P&I on 300k loan at 4% - $1,400.00
Condo fees $ 400.00

Ok so we are already $100 OVER your current payment and we have not included PMI $100-300 per month, taxes????????? or your homeowners insurance another $50 - $120 depending.

If you live paycheck to paycheck now you will be bankrupt and foreclosed on in 6months with a house.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

Not a good idea, imho.
Here is the list of things you possibly aren't considering:
-To sell, in my area, it is about 10% of selling cost in closing costs, fees, and taxes (so for a 300k home, $30k).
-property taxes and fees (may be in HOA fees, but probably not)
-homeowners insurance (may be in HOA fees, but probably not)
-water, sewer, garbage, landscape maintanence (probably in HOA fees)
-Primary Mortgage Insurance (PMI) since you probably have no down payment


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RE: Is this a good idea?

Other information that may help people give advice:

There are no realtors involved in the buying or selling of this property, so we save on those costs.

The property is brand new construction, with a warranty for the first year.

The condo fee includes master insurance, water, sewer, trash removal, landscaping, maintenance, etc.

PITI + condo fee + taxes + estimated utilities works out to the exact cost we're paying now for our rental + utilities.

Closing costs are going to be less than $3,000. That will wipe out most of our equity for the first year, but then we'd be earning some each year.

The financing is a standard 30 year fixed mortgage with no PMI. The interest rate will be slightly higher because of the lack of PMI. There are no prepayment penalties, and we plan to contribute at least $100 extra dollars a month toward the payments (more if we're able).

The resale restriction is to allow the property to "remain affordable in perpetuity." There is some complicated formula that they use to recalculate the purchase price when you're ready to sell, and it appears to amount to maybe a 1-2% increase per year + a limited amount of increases for necessary capital improvements (but no credits for anything cosmetic or "upgrades.")

Happy to answer any other questions. Thanks for the input so far!


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RE: Is this a good idea?

"Please show the math you use to get your mortgage to come out to the same as your rent. It doesnt add up, even with creative math.
Current rent $1,700.00 month

P&I on 300k loan at 4% - $1,400.00
Condo fees $ 400.00

Ok so we are already $100 OVER your current payment and we have not included PMI $100-300 per month, taxes????????? or your homeowners insurance another $50 - $120 depending."

Ok. The property is actually selling for $260,000 specifically. We're putting down 5% (so 13,000 - parents are helping with remaining $3,000 and the closing costs).

So, we're financing $247,000 at 4.25%, so principal + interest = $1215.00

Condo fee is $403 and covers master (walls-in) insurance, trash, sewer, water, landscaping, snow removal, building and elevator maintenance, etc. They "estimated high" so that there won't be any increase surprises for some time, since everyone who will be living there will be low or moderate income households.

Taxes are extremely low, because the town has a "residential exemption" on the first $160,000 value of a property if you live in it. So, we're only being taxes on 100,000 or so. Taxes will be less than $100 a month.

We currently pay exorbitantly high utility costs in our rental, since it's an older home with nearly no insulation. It ran us approximately $375 a month, and it was a mild winter. This condo will be smaller, and is new energy-efficient construction, so costs should be significantly less to heat is (estimating $150 a month).

To compare:

Current expenses: 1660 (rent) + 375 (utilities) = $2,035

Condo expenses: 1215 (mortgage) + 403 (condo fee) + 150 (utilities) + 95 (taxes) = $1863

So, even if taxes or condo fees increase a bit, we'll be paying less per month.

What do you all think now?


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RE: Is this a good idea?

You'll think back on this post in a year or two as you're entering into bankruptcy and wish you had taken the advice given. As proposed, this will not "save" you any money. It will increase your monthly costs and leave you house poor. There will no "forced monthly savings". You'll at least get your housing needs met from this, but other than that, there isn't any way that you don't come out of this with less than you're going into it with.

If you aspire to homeownership, there is no substitute for decreasing your monthly costs and putting that into savings as well as getting second jobs earmarked for that account. Get some financial counseling NOW and they will tell you the same thing.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

We had this same program in our town in Mass. It was the only way that some of our teachers, firemen, etc. could afford to live in town. Any builder looking to do a larger development in those towns has to agree to set aside some affordable or low income units. Less profit for the builder, but they get approval for the project and many times are allowed to squeeze in a few more units to offset the low income units. The home always belongs to that program, so that another low income family can move in when the first family sells. It is a legitimate program.

Why only 5-7 years? Another thing to consider is the social issues for you and your kids. Some people will resent that you got into their town and schools so "cheaply".


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RE: Is this a good idea?

Even with the condo master insurance, at minimum you will need your own insurance policy to cover the contents of your townhouse. Master policies typically cover the structure only. Does it include liability insurance? What if some one is hurt on your property? What if the property is destroyed by fire? Does it include replacement costs of the structure? Typical Homeowners insurance can cover those things. You need to add the cost of insurance--at minimum a "renters insurance" type policy.

One more thought. What happens when your taxing body re-assesses the property? Will they continue to assess it for what you paid or will that assessment increase as the other condos sell for double the price. Has your town committed to keeping the taxes at some special rate given that they want to encourage affordable housing.

It seems as if you made your decision prior to posting. Good luck. I hope it works out for you.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

I cannot help you with your finances, however I can give you a wake up call on what you can possibly expect in the future should you need to sell.

We sold a 1560 sq. ft. older house in a semi upscale area, owned for 9 years, and "LOST" $37,000 this week in today's market. The comps including foreclosures brought down the value of the house plus extra expense to meet the buyer's FHA loan requirements. We had bought the house for our daughter & family to live in. We ended up paying 10 months mortgage, insurance, & taxes on an empty house waiting for a buyer. We never dreamed 9 years ago the market would be so bad for sellers. We never know what the future holds. The market was good for buyers and our daughter was able to buy her own larger house, we are grateful for that. However, we had no clue selling the house would end up with a hefty loss. Other houses in this area have been on the market much longer than ours and have not sold.

The housing market has indications it will not improve much if any in the next 10 years.

Please take others advice and get help with your finances.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

Everyone else has addressed some of the pitfalls. I think you are way underestimating costs of buying and the potential the property could decrease in value. But I won't dwell on those. What I want to address is:

There are no prepayment penalties, and we plan to contribute at least $100 extra dollars a month toward the payments (more if we're able).

Someone living paycheck to paycheck doesn't need to do that. What you need to do is start saving money. Build a large emergency fund. Once you've done that you may consider setting aside extra money to pay off a property but don't do that until you have lots of cash sitting around outside your mortgage. There are many people who made extra payments on mortgages, got behind and got foreclosed on and lost all those extra payments.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

GreenDesigns, can you please elaborate on the following:

"As proposed, this will not "save" you any money. It will increase your monthly costs and leave you house poor. There will no "forced monthly savings". You'll at least get your housing needs met from this, but other than that, there isn't any way that you don't come out of this with less than you're going into it with."

How will we increase our monthly costs? How will we come out of this with less?


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RE: Is this a good idea?

rrah wrote: "What happens when your taxing body re-assesses the property? Will they continue to assess it for what you paid or will that assessment increase as the other condos sell for double the price. Has your town committed to keeping the taxes at some special rate given that they want to encourage affordable housing."

All of the condos in this development are "affordable properties," so none of them will sell for double the price. I believe, but am not positive, that the town is committed to keeping the assessment value at or near the selling prices, since they are a unique type of property.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

rrah also wrote:

"It seems as if you made your decision prior to posting. Good luck. I hope it works out for you."

Well, honestly, we did put a deposit down, because the town rushed us through the decision-making process before we could really adequately wrap our brains around everything. But we have a possibility of getting at least part of it back, and would be willing to forfeit the whole thing if we were really getting ourselves into trouble. I'd honestly prefer to stay in my bigger rental in my familiar neighborhood if this isn't going to benefit us.

I'm just really trying to understand here. I still haven't become convinced that this is a terrible idea, but I'm open to listening to anything anyone has to say. I can't imagine repairs will be plentiful on new construction over 5-7 years. We lived in an apartment rental for 8 years and the house was from 1910 and the landlord didn't incur any big repair bills in that time.

And I'm doubtful we would sell for any less than $260,000, since there's currently a waitlist a mile long of "alternates" in case any of these purchases fall through, and since it's one of the only chances a family of 4 making the median income will have to buy in this town of $600,00+ condos.

What else am I not considering? Does everyone agree that this is really a terrible idea? Can you please specifically tell me why?


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RE: Is this a good idea?

". I can't imagine repairs will be plentiful on new construction over 5-7 years"

That just shows you don't know much about home ownership.

It is a bad idea because you plan to spend basically every dollar you have PLUS borrow from family just to get into the place. You don't seem to understand what cost will go up when you own and don't want to admit the very real possibility of being hit with a big bill if something goes wrong.

The problem isn't with the idea. The problem is that you are jumping in without preparing or even researching what you will need to prepare for. That is a very easy way to get in over your head. Before you get in any further, please check out a NFCC counselor in your area. Subsidized housing CAN be a good deal, but it is ONLY a good deal if you are financially prepared to be an owner.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

The way to best save your money is to move into a home/condo of the size you are thinking of buying and stop paying such high rent.

You are giving up size for affordability and "homeownership". Why not do the same now--give up size for affordability and getting your family in a better spot to own in the future?

What is your real savings picture like? You mention retirement "incomes". Are you retired? (not likely with kids) Or, do you mean retirement savings? When you are living paycheck to paycheck, are you really living paycheck to paycheck, or are you saving every month? What does your fiscal discipline look like?

And, should this not work out in 3-5 years like you thought, will your family be able to bail you out then, as they are helping you get into this situation...


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RE: not to mention

Not to mention...
the restrictions on what you can get back out of it...no improvements values, etc.

This will be a development that declines. Period. No doubt about it that it is the best it will ever be today; new. The people "owning" these will treat them like rentals. Why put money into them if you can't ever expect to recover the cost? This will not be a nice neighborhood/development in 10-15 yrs.

I would be very concerned. But, if you family is for it, and they are willing to support you, and you want to give it a shot, and you are hopeless that your finances would ever improve to be able to own yourself someday, then this seems like an option for you.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

"Closing costs are going to be less than $3,000. That will wipe out most of our equity for the first year"

What equity?
You have no equity to wipe out!


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RE: Is this a good idea?

I am not sure that they will get treated exactly like rentals, it depends upon what the mentality of the HOA is as a whole. The restriction sounds more like the Co-ops here than condo, which is a different animal, but there are a couple buildings here that have this type of restriction at the time of resale, and some of the units have been renovated and some have not. But I also think that there are limitations to what you can actually Do, or Change, so there is incentive to keep them up but not over improve by comparison. There are also a lot of people in NYC who will never own anything but rent apartments for long periods of time under rent control laws and renovate the apartments top to bottom on their own dime.

That said, I don't know that this sounds like a great idea, because you are still awfully close to the edge financially. What is included in the common maintenance? I know some associations that don't include anything at all, whereas some you are only responsible for walls in, and nothing on the exterior.


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I should add ...

Hand in hand with the restriction at resale wasthat the HOA in the building I looked at would Guarantee to buy back your unit, so you were never really on the open market.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

LuAnn said:
""Closing costs are going to be less than $3,000. That will wipe out most of our equity for the first year"
What equity?
You have no equity to wipe out!"

I was referring to the $4,000+ we would pay toward the principal in our first year. We will also have $13,000 in a down payment.

palimpsest said:

"What is included in the common maintenance? I know some associations that don't include anything at all, whereas some you are only responsible for walls in, and nothing on the exterior."

This association operates like your latter example.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

Our town has a program like this because like a pp said, otherwise teachers, policemen, town employees could not afford to live here. They lightly sprinkle these subsidized properties around in new neighborhood, or developers (like ours) can make a donation to some sort of an affordable housing fund in lieu of setting aside properties within their projects.
It seems to work ok so far, these units are not grouped together, so it can be hard to pick them out if you aren't aware. But, like a pp said...I would be *very* wary of an entire development of these properties. Honestly, I would work on saving so that you could in a few years buy a market-priced home with a yard. You will see much greater appreciation in the long run...and the current housing bust not withstanding, home ownership has traditionally been a wealth building tool if you are smart about it (stay put, no HELOCs, etc.) Plus, prices are low now, buy low, sell high...you know? :) Just be very careful. Lots of shiny new developments look good at first...


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RE: Is this a good idea?

This is an example of Social Engineering. There is no difference between the sub prime mortgages that got us in the current mess, and this subsidized program.
Like one poster pointed out, you may run into people who look down upon the fact that they had to get into home ownership the hard way, while you got the taxpayers to get you into the home. It sounds harsh, but I know for fact that these mandated low income housing that sit right next door to something more than twice the value is usually not good for either party.
Please, stop, and look around at the pain that so many ex homeowners are suffering right now, because of getting into a home while living with no savings. You do not want to set yourself up for this disaster. If either one of your children needs hospital care, if your income drops even slightly, if gasoline goes up to $5.00/gallon, you are 3 months away from being in foreclosure.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

There's a piece of the financial equation that hasn't yet been discussed. I've got 3 more questions that provide better context for your decision, which may or may not be a good one.
1. What is your household income? (this needs to be examined relative to your housing expense)
2. You say that "until recently" you were living paycheck to paycheck. Has your income gone up or your expenses gone down recently? What has changed recently?
3. How much debt do you currently have? Credit cards, cars, student loans, everything.

The reason behind most of the comments above discouraging you from jumping in before you're financially ready are because if you hit a hiccup in your finances (job loss, health/medical problem with big bills, etc.) and don't have a cushion, the implications are much more serious if you're a homeowner than if you're a renter. Foreclosure is a lot bigger deal than having to move to a cheaper rental.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

Reading this conversation, it seems to me the heart of what people are cautioning you about, PeaG, is that you are making a plan that is completely future driven and your reality/past behavior doesn't necessarily support your assumptions. It is exciting to have an opportunity to do everything you think you will do: build equity, become a saving responsible homeowner etc. What folks are telling you is that the rosy estimates never, ever turn out to be completely accurate. They are also telling you that a family that isn't good at managing money, lives paycheck to paycheck and has to borrow money to get into a subsidized homeowner program will not magically change just because of the opportunity.

If you posted that your family had been profligate but had been diligently saving for several years, was very comfortably living *below* your means, and was prepared with not only enough for a sizable down payment but a large contingency/repair/fixer upper fund...then I suspect the response would be very different.

It's all too easy to think we are going to suddenly change ourselves. It's all too hard to actually do it.

Good luck with your decision.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

PeaG - on your thread on the Organizing the Home forum, you didn't mention that the entire property was low-income. In addition to my concerns about space for a family to spread out within your unit, you need to also consider that others will be doing the same - squeezing four people into 1250 square feet of living space. It could be noisy. Or you could end up with some strict HOA policies.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

One of the other things that no one has discussed is the portion of the monthly costs which is the condo fee.

This may very by state, but we have had a number of owners who did not default on their mortgages, but stopped paying the condo fee. The association could not do very much. One owner lived here for years without paying the fees but until she also defaulted on the mortgage, little could be done. I don't know that those fees were ever recouped.

Another owner went over a year without paying the fees but made arrangements that it would be returned with a certain amount of interest from the proceeds of the sale of his unit.

I am not saying that the OP would intentionally do this, but in my experience the first thing that stops is any special assessment payment, then the HOA fee, then the mortgage.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

kirkhall wrote:

"You are giving up size for affordability and "homeownership". Why not do the same now--give up size for affordability and getting your family in a better spot to own in the future?"

We have a large rental with high utilities, but it's actually a below-market rent. We have three bedrooms and two levels for the cost of the average 2-bedroom in this neighborhood. Any many properties here have high utilities because it's older housing stock with poor insulation. Our landlord is a great guy and said he has never raised the rent on a tenant. He is retired and owns many properties around here that he bought back when properties were actually affordable in our neighborhood. So, as long as he continues to be our landlord, we'd be good. Downsizing wouldn't save us much, if anything, and since we have two kids, we really need at least 2 bedrooms, preferably more.

What is your real savings picture like? You mention retirement "incomes". Are you retired? (not likely with kids) Or, do you mean retirement savings? When you are living paycheck to paycheck, are you really living paycheck to paycheck, or are you saving every month? What does your fiscal discipline look like?

Sorry, I meant retirement savings. No, we're not retired. Clearly. :) Currently, I am a stay-at-home mom. I was previously a kindergarten teacher. The cost of sending our two children to full time daycare would completely wipe out my take-home pay, so we decided that I would stay home with the children until they became school age. When I was working, I put some money into a 403B plan, but not a ton (~$10,000). My husband currently contributes to his 401K and has about $25,000 in there.

Other than that, we sporadically put money into a savings account, but don't have a good plan for consistently doing it. We tend to do it when my husband makes some extra freelance income. We know we need to do better.

And, should this not work out in 3-5 years like you thought, will your family be able to bail you out then, as they are helping you get into this situation...

That's unlikely. There's only one set of grandparents (divorced families, so lots of elders) that is in any sort of secure place financially. Everyone else is struggling. The financially secure grandparents are willing to help with this because they see it as a way to help us get started on a better financial path. If they did need to "bail us out" some day, it would certainly be a loan.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

weedyacres wrote:

There's a piece of the financial equation that hasn't yet been discussed. I've got 3 more questions that provide better context for your decision, which may or may not be a good one.
1. What is your household income? (this needs to be examined relative to your housing expense)

Currently a salary of 94,000 plus sporadic freelance income, usually in small amounts. This is the most my husband has ever made. He negotiated for a large raise last year. A few years back, he was only making in the 50s, which is why it was difficult for us to save. As a kindergarten teacher, I made in the low 30s, but stopped working after the birth of our first child. I do plan to go back to work, but that's 4 year out.

2. You say that "until recently" you were living paycheck to paycheck. Has your income gone up or your expenses gone down recently? What has changed recently?

See above.
3. How much debt do you currently have? Credit cards, cars, student loans, everything.

Student loans around 50K at 4.5% interest.
Car payment at $312 a month (a 0% interest loan, so no need to accelerate payments).
That's it.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

Aside from the finances of the house, I suspect you will find that your overall cost of living will go up. We moved eight miles from a decent neighborhood to a really nice one. We have a lot more financial demands here than we did before. Aside from the cost of the house, we are finding a lot of hidden costs due to the expectations of living in a nicer neighborhood. We aren't keeping up with the Joneses type people. People who have more money tend to allocate their spending differently. They wear nicer brand clothing. They participate in more expensive types of activities. They eat more expensive kinds of foods and dine at better restaurants. There are all kinds of requests for various donations because we are the "rich" neighborhood. It is never ending. You may find the changes more subtle, but they will be there and they add up.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

What is the limit for income for a family of four in order to qualify for this condo unit?

Are there condo units being sold at market value like the one you are considering? If not, what is the size of the lowest cost market unit?

In NJ all towns must supply a minimum number of affordable housing units. The builders and the town negoiatate this. The most affluent towns in NJ have them. It is a state law.

My advice is to speak with a good real estate attorney before you make the full committment. You also need to learn to live below your means in order to build up a cushion of savings regardless of where you live.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

Where in this Country is a $94,000/year salary considered low enough of an income to be subsidized? Why not just move to an area that has a much lower cost of living?


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RE: Is this a good idea?

I don't think we can speculate about the community attitude about this type of housing.

The most expensive house in my zipcode ($6M) is next to Section-8 rentals. This is privately held property whose tenants have the rent paid through government funding.

There has been a general replacement of old-style "public" housing in my zip (which has expensive real estate) and the adjacent zip (not quite as expensive) with mixed income housing, from houses for people with fairly decent incomes who apply and based upon family size, etc. may be accepted, to town houses for restricted income families, to fully accessible housing, to rentals for limited income families, to rental assistance.

The rental properties that are mixed within the neighborhoods many people are not aware of (except perhaps the immediate neighbors), and the re-developed areas with mixed housing has actually been embraced, because the old housing was decrepit and those parts of the neighborhood were dangerous to the extent that police would restrict traffic through them at night. If you lived Near that, it depressed your house's value. Now these areas are much safer and have a cross section of people and it seems to work. The housing prices were low for the zip, and there was an application process (that was flooded). As some of the houses come onto the market, the prices are still low for the zip, but I think that was the point (Low being $300K).


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forgot

At the time the mixed housing went onto the market I was in the income cutoff where I could have applied, and I was a clinical researcher at an Ivy League institution, and part-time instructor at another college.

I would have been turned down, because I was not near my income potential, but the salary guidelines were fairly liberal.

That said, I can't really say that this is a good idea for any particular individual/family. Rather I just wanted to point out that depending on the area, the neighbors might not be as snotty about the presence of this type of things than they would in other areas. (Snotty being a general term)


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RE: Is this a good idea?

ncrealestateguy said:

"Where in this Country is a $94,000/year salary considered low enough of an income to be subsidized? Why not just move to an area that has a much lower cost of living?"

Boston. We live just outside of it. My husband works in the city. His field is such that he has to work in an urban center, so even if we moved, we'd likely have expensive housing. And moving outside the city much farther than we are means a hellish commute. We're currently 6ish miles from my husband's work, and it can easily take him an hour to get there by car, even longer by transportation. We're a few hours from family, so that's a consideration, too.
http://www.boston.com/realestate/news/blogs/renow/2011/07/greater_boston_6.html

http://www.forbes.com/2009/10/07/most-expensive-cities-lifestyle-real-estate-america-top-ten.html


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mike_home wrote:

"What is the limit for income for a family of four in order to qualify for this condo unit?
Are there condo units being sold at market value like the one you are considering? If not, what is the size of the lowest cost market unit?"

Income limit for a family of four is just over $100,000. This is for the "moderate income" batch of units in the development. It goes up to the median income in the town. 1/2 of the units are being offered to families in the moderate income bracket, 1/2 are being offered to families considered "low income" (>80% of the median). The units for each income category are identical, so we'd be living immediately next door to people in the exact same unit who paid $150,000 to get in. The lowest cost units are 2-bedrooms for $140,000. There are no market rate units, but they did sell plots of land on the same property for people to build market rate homes. The plots of land sold for $1M each. :/


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RE: Is this a good idea?

From what I could determine, the income cutoff for the development I spoke of here, was $70,000, 5 years ago. I live in the "poorest" of the ten major cities in the US, but the housing development is in a prime location. The cutoffs likely vary by neighborhood.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

In my mind, homeownership and having children are not birth rights, you have to earn that.

I have no problem spending my hard earned tax dollars to help people who needs shelter, food, medical treatment and education opportunities; I just cannot understand the purpose of helping people with $100K annual income to gain homeownership.

Apparently, you are at your limit just having kids, let alone to own a home. What would you do if your husband for some reasons cannot bring a paycheck home, even for a few months?


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azmom wrote: "I just cannot understand the purpose of helping people with $100K annual income to gain homeownership."

That's fair. I get it.

I won't make excuses for our fiscal situation, since we did our share of spending money frivolously in our 20s without an eye toward saving. I will say, though, that we both started out in our careers making little money and with an extraordinary amount of student loan debt. And we lived in a very expensive city, the rent for which ate up the bulk of our take-home pay for a long time. It's hard to start out as an adult with combined net worth 6 digits in the negatives.

Yes, we now have a good income, but it's been a long road to get here and it's still considered (just) below the median for a family of four. We're trying to get ourselves in financial shape now, and that's why we thought this opportunity might be a good idea. The plan was to live there, pay what we're paying in rent, build some equity, and also save at the same time. But it sounds like people think that was an overly simplistic plan and that there's a lot more to consider.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

Whether anybody likes it or not, programs like this exist to get certain mixes of people to move into certain neighborhoods.

There are a couple new buildings on my block that have tax abatement on the property tax for 10 years after construction. This means their tax is based upon the unimproved property. So a $500K-900K property has a very low property tax. I don't live in a distressed neighborhood, so the idea that people needed to have incentives to move in doesn't make sense. (And these properties are worth more and sell for more than the average--partly because they are new construction, partly because the taxes are low--right now)

But in the distressed neighborhoods it is more unfair, really. There is a development of $750K-$1M townhouses in a neighborhood a few blocks from here, where you used to be able to buy a property for under $50K (I remember when someone bought a livable house for $5K) They are paying minimal tax, while the people who have lived their forever, are watching their taxes spiral based upon the increased value of their unimproved properties.


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I'm also in MA and familiar with these programs. For people who don't understand why someone wouldn't "just move", our state has many advantages in terms of opportunities and quality of life. Housing is VERY expensive here, especially in certain regions so we're doing our best.

Also, the restrictions are because previously, someone could essentially "flip" their low income house and turn a tidy profit. That did (rightfully, IMHO) cause some resentment. And maybe it's the people I know or our state's culture, but I've never otherwise heard any resentment of these programs. People understand that it's very difficult to get established here.

Is there some way you could talk to other people who are part of this program and get a sense of how its gone for them?


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Oh, I wanted to add, I talked to my wife about your situation. She works for one of the MA towns and is much more familiar with these programs then I am.

In her opinion, these programs are pretty bullet proof in terms of risk. They have stringent requirements for a reason. But it sounds to me like you aren't sure if this is something you really want to do. You're already talking about possibly moving 5-7 years out and I don't think that's the right way to approach this.

Is this a place you could imagine staying ten years or twenty years? Also, while the risk is minimal, you probably should understand the program better than you do before entering into it. Ask your contact at the (I assume) housing authority to sit down with you and really go through it.


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I think that in considering the restrictions, there's some failure here to look at the bigger picture. (In my cheap part of the country there were programs like this started during the frenzy for professional workers like firemen and teachers and they aren't standard low-income housing projects. I see no special drawback if they can get into one.)

But, before you buy any kind of house the questions that should be asked are things like "Do you have an emergency fund that can carry you through if your husband is unemployed for three months or more?" Unfortunately it's a reality of current life that anyone may lose a job and have a hard time getting another one. You should have some kind of financial cushion set aside before you buy any kind of home. Three months minimum, better six months.

I have to echo the others who say that buying will not be cheaper than renting. No matter if your condo is brand new, you will have repair/maintenance expenses. Also, since it sounds like you still struggle with financial discipline (but good for you for realizing it!) one thing nobody here has mentioned is the fact that when you own, it's a much bigger temptation to spend money on household items. When you rent, you want and shrug. When you own, it's soooo much easier to justify things to yourself. Be aware that you will probably have that to fight as well.

Personally, in your situation I'd want to pay down some of that student debt first, but that's just me and I realize lots of folks are content to live with a level of debt that would keep me from sleeping.


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One of the biggest surprises when I bought my first new home (as opposed to a pre-owned home) was all of the things the house needed: Ceiling fans, additional lights, garage door opener (?!), and most expensively, window treatments. Even inexpensive window treatments ran several thousand dollars...

As the others have said -- home ownership costs more than you think. But if you can swing it (have a safety net) and/or if you get lucky financially (no unpleasant surprises with Hubby's income), you may be just fine. But do be mindful of the risks.


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6 miles to work and it takes an hour? My DH worked in downtown Boston, we lived in a top 5 school town 20 miles out and early morning he could be at work in 35 mins and about 1 hr during rush hour. I think there are plenty of other towns to choose from that will give you more space and a decent commute.

I though Boston was expensive till we moved to the west coast!


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I live near to Boston and there are a lot of houses in towns just inside 128 that you could consider, if you can afford this. Your husband makes MORE money than I did when we bought the SFH we bought now, and we put 20% down. I'm the primary breadwinner in our family (DH changed careers, which took him out of the workforce for awhile to retain, then he started at a low salary since it was a new field. However, he loves his work now so it was all worth it).

Honestly, even at the rent you are paying there is no reason you can't save enough money for a 5% or even 10% down payment and buy a property that is what you want. It costs a LOT of money to move, and there are so many little things that add up when you buy a new house. If you doubt this, then consider why a lot of relocation packages include a lump sum for "incidentals" (3 weeks salary, last time we were relo'd). And that's after they paid for professional movers to pack and ship everything you own, all the closing costs on the new property and the costs associated with selling the old one.

It sounds like this is a quick way to get something that's a little better than what you have now, but still isn't what you really want, and you know it's a short term solution to a longer term problem. I think it's a bad idea for your family.


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Forget about Social Engineering aspect of this subject. It is debatable and could be an interesting topic for a different thread. Only focus on your plan:

It seems your plan is based on rosy assumptions and it does not provide contingencies for incidences. We are not talking about big ticket items such as losing employment, hospital or big car/ house repair bills. Small things needed for a new place, such as sweeeby mentioned are real. The cost of raising 1 and 3 years old is way less than when they are older.

Don't overlook the expense of living in an expensive neighborhood and school district. How would you handle simple things such as fund raisings, birthday parties, sleepovers, field trips, school plays and special enrichment programs? How would you manage life style and expectation differences between your neighbors and you own? Even if you are strong enough to resist temptation and peer pressure, how would you equip your children if they are disappointed?

You have already thought about moving in 5-7 years. How would you come up with down payment and fees for the move? It seems you won't have increased equity of this unit, and it is unlikely you would get another government assistance or family help. Unless your own family income drastically increases in 5 years, with the housing price in the area you want to stay, you may need to save $10,000 each month in the next 60 months just for $600K down payment; otherwise, It may not be sufficient to let you get into the place you want.

If I were you, as a family, we would learn as much about personal finance as we could; we would pay down student loan debts, we would lead very frugal life, we would find 2nd, 3rd jobs to bring in more income and build up reserve fund. We would also do everything we could, such as taking courses to increase our earning potentials. Then when time comes we would get a fix upper in which we could build sweat equity.

It sounds very hard, it is indeed. But many families emerging from crisis are doing just that. You are only in late 30s....you still have the time....


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chispa, yeah, it really does. We're in Arlington. I don't know why, other than there's no clear route there. He's tried multiple routes, and it's always the same. On a really good day, it can take 45 minutes. He works 9-5, though. I know if he could swing a different shift, it would be better. But that's not the way his workplace operates. Maybe if he gets a promotion (which is possibly in the works), he could be calling the shots a little more about his hours, but for now it is what it is.


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trilobite said:

"Is this a place you could imagine staying ten years or twenty years? Also, while the risk is minimal, you probably should understand the program better than you do before entering into it. Ask your contact at the (I assume) housing authority to sit down with you and really go through it."

When we initially looked at it, we thought so. We actually figured it would be a good retirement home once the kids had flown the coop. But then we got our third choice unit and there are some things about it that we just aren't sure we're going to love in the longterm. But it's really hard to know, since the construction isn't even done and we are having a hard time envisioning what it's going to be like living in such a wealthy neighborhood. It's possible we could stay there long term. But, as I mentioned, we both really would prefer our own yard and our own (small, humble) house. I thought perhaps in 5-7 years or so (now that my husband's salary is a decent one and I would go back to work at that point) we could save enough so that money, combined with our equity, could be applied to a single family house, or at least another condo more to our liking and with a yard. But that may be unrealistic.


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azmom - you make some good points about the expensive town. It is actually more diverse than I described it, though. I've been told that there's a fair amount of financial diversity overall, but there definitely isn't any in the particular neighborhood where the condos are located. I was also told by some current residents that the schools go to great lengths to make sure children from all walks of life are able to participate in activities along with their peers (not sure how this is accomplished, though).

Just curious, where did you get the idea that we would need $600K for a down payment? We would try to find a humble house that needed work, hopefully for around 600K total, depending on what happens in the market. 20% of that would be $120,000, which means we would need to save $2,000 a month (plus moving/closing costs, etc.) Initially, we'd only be able to do, at most, $1,000 a month. But once I were working again, we would essentially bank my entire salary, since we would have already become accustomed to living without it. And our car would be paid off at that point, so we'd have one less expense.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

So the thing that's changed is that you've gotten a significant increase in income...congrats! That's also sufficient income to support the house payment you're proposing.

Since your DH got the raise, have you kept your lifestyle at what it was before he did? I'm assuming that's what's enabled you to save up $10K? How long did that take you? If you have been living below your means for a while, then that proves that you can, and bodes well for continuing to do so. If, OTOH, you just got the raise and are about to jump into a significant financial obligation as a result, that would give me pause.

The thing that worries me, though, is that you've still got a pile of student loans and a car payment (what's the balance on the loan?). It doesn't matter how low the interest rates are, they're still obligations that cuts into your ability to cash flow needs that will arise with your new homeownership.


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Tball costs money; dance costs money; science fairs cost money; ...

1 and 3 yrs old are actually quite inexpensive. They are happy with a box of crayons, and some homemade playdough.

I'm there with you, except about 3 years ahead--6.5 and 3 yr old. And, the kindergartener cost me more money this year than I would have ever guessed...

Just be fully informed, and take all of this into account for your decision.

(Also, were you not banking your entire salary when you worked before you had kids)? Why not?


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kirkhall:

Thanks for the input regarding costs for school-aged children. That's definitely something I haven't fully wrapped my brain around.

We didn't bank my income at the time because my husband was making about $35,000 less, so we were actually making about the same as now. I do admit that, because we are able to save some now (we saved $10,000 in about a year's time without a real plan), we could have saved more back then. No excuses. We just didn't. We travelled, we ate out, we furnished our apartment...I guess because we didn't have good financial role models growing up, we didn't really realize how much we were just wasting money. We just paid the bills at the start of the month and spent the rest. We're determined to change that now, though.

Thanks for the congrats, weedacres. Our car loan has about $15K left on it. THe car is 2 years old with very low miles (albeit city miles). We hope to drive it into the ground. :)


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I think my question is this deal too limiting for you and your family? That amount of square footage for your size of family is definitely on the lower end. It is doable but how comfortable would it be as the kids get older, bigger, and accumulate more stuff? How long could you be trapped in a place that no longer meets your needs. There may be a long waiting list now for the development but could change as other developments become available.

Your husband's pay has gone up drastically and you have saved some money without much of a plan. So now I would see how much you could save with you becoming a dedicated saver. Then, once you have returned to work, save even more and get into something that you really want. There will be other opportunities in the future, this is not your only chance.


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Won't all the families that are buying in this developement have issues with raising a family in an expensive neighborhood and school? It seems that the school will have to realize that many families won't have the resources for expensive activities, fees etc depending on how many units are being constructed.


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I think you can do it financially as I read your posts. I do wonder if you really want to live in this new place with your comments and lack of enthusiasm. Yes, kids cost money, but many of these costs people mention are options. You can buy an expensive present for the birthday party, or you can be quite reasonable. I kept what I called a Birthday Closet in a cupboard, and I tried to stay one gift ahead for the next boy or girl birthday party (I had both.) I learned to take advantage of sales and buy ahead. You don't have to enroll your kid in the expensive after school art class. But even scouts cost money. I think you need to sit down with pencil and pad and work out the insurance, taxes, etc. Then you need to make a double list of pros and cons of living in this place or staying put.

Do you really want to move into this place? You say you will know more when you see it built. Let me warn you if you are going to keep checking on your unit, at some stages the rooms look large, and at other stages they look small. The best help to me is to measure the rooms you live in and then compare to the measurements of the new place.

You apparently have a few months before you would sign the paperwork or be past the point of no return. In the meantime, save like mad, create a budget, live within it, and decide what you really want for your home the next decade.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

Well said, Sheila.

At least a few months living like you will need to (fiscally) in your new space can give you an idea if it will be worth it.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

$600k is based on "the median home purchase is around $1M each" said in your post. Assume it is the price of the house you would move into after you leave the current unit which has market value of $600k (but you receive a break for only $300k).

Assume your husband would make $140k/yr after 5 years(this may be optimistic given the current economic climate most employees get little raise or nothing at all) and would obtain a mortgage of $400K (again, this may be optimistic), you would need to come up with $600k for the down payment.

I did not include any equity from the unit when you sell it, because during first 5 years most of the mortgage payments would go to paying interest. Also, you won't have any upside equity growth due to resale restriction.

The number I used may be totally off, nevertheless I am curious as how would you find a humble house for $600K if your current condo unit's market price is already $600K? I doubt using 20% rule for downpayment is fault proof. In areas housing price is way above average wages, downpayment is the difference between house price and mortgage amount the buyer could obtain.

It is good that you plan to return to work. You may want to take courses that would allow for higher paying jobs. I know quite a few friends either changed major or completed graduate school while staying home with small kids.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

You can get approved for a $300,000 loan. So why not go and buy that SFH fixer upper that you described, now? Or, since you are currently saving $1000/month, and currently have some funds for a down payment already, why not just save for a couple more years instead of relying on housing welfare?


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PeaG, some other thoughts. What do the numbers look like when you look at moving into a TOWNHOUSE, not a single family home? Not one in the sort of program you describe, but just a regular townhouse.

Since you mentioned being good with living in a townhouse for a time, maybe you should look at what's available. It would also be a good experiment with property ownership. Buying a fixer-upper when you've never previously owned a place sounds a little dubious to me, honestly.

Last but not least, it sounds like your husband's career will always keep you near a city. Maybe you should try a little harder to embrace the lifestyle and think in terms of parks and museums instead of yards and single family dwellings. Just something to think about.


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As a former teacher, have you considered teaching preschool or at a day care (somewhere that your kids could attend while you work) or in-home day care for other kids? Just a thought for something that would help you earn some extra money that could go straight to savings. (I'm a working mom and at one point had a nanny who brought her son with her. He was the same age as my son. Worked out OK for all of us.)


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A pre school teacher makes very little money. A regular teaching job or a shared teaching job will result in a far better salary.


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sheila: I thought of a pre-school or day care in case her kids could be with her (otherwise, the cost of day care exceeds salary.) After I posted I realized that this was not at all the OP's question, so apologies to the OP for getting off topic.

I have many of the same concerns that others listed above. Also the fact that the whole building / development will be designated for low/moderate income housing gives me pause. If none of the units can be sold for profit, where is the incentive for others to keep their units well-maintained? Although the building is shiny and new now, in 5-7 years it won't be, especially if there are owners with little incentive to maintain / improve their property.


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sheilajoyce: Yes and no. Would this be my choice if money were no object and time were on our side to save and buy a house that we could retire in? No. I would buy a 1300-1800 square foot single family home with 4 bedrooms, a fireplace, and a small yard with mature trees and a place to have a vegetable garden. But nothing is perfect and we didn't set ourselves up well to do that and we don't want to be paying a mortgage after retirement if we can help it.

The problem with what I want above, is that I want it to be near to Boston. I don't want to live in some remote suburb with little culture and a terrible commute into the city. My husband thinks he would be happy to do that, and has tried to sell me on the small SFHs 20ish miles outside the city. But, as a stay-at-home mom, I value walkable neighborhoods, public transportation, and activities for the children nearby. I would be very unhappy (and I think my kids ultimately would, too) being far from these amenities and having to drive everywhere, especially long distances for anything fun.

This condo, in a way, is what neither of us wanted and yet what both of us wanted. It's in an urban area, is .5 miles to the nearest T stop, and has two urban squares with walking distance. Yet it's up on a hill that feels like a leafy suburb and there will be a park built right across the street, so the green space appeals to my husband. His commute would also be fantastic (he could even walk on a really nice day).

Is the inside space what I had hoped? No. Do I think I could make it work? I think so. I'd be a million times happier if it just had a basement and a tiny fenced in area that was "ours," but there will be a storage locker and a communal "green space," so that's something. I guess I just feel that this is our best option without waiting another 5 or more years before we would be able to save enough to do what we'd really want to do. And who knows what could happen to interest rates in that time. If they rose, and home prices didn't correspondingly fall, we'd be able to afford even less.


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ncrealestateguy said:

"You can get approved for a $300,000 loan. So why not go and buy that SFH fixer upper that you described, now? Or, since you are currently saving $1000/month, and currently have some funds for a down payment already, why not just save for a couple more years instead of relying on housing welfare?"

A $300,000 fixer upper wouldn't put us in a town we'd want to be in. In our current town, the most recent sale that came even close was a tiny fixer cape for $350,000 that needed asbestos abatement, tree removal, a replacement roof and furnace, and was "plumbed for a 2nd floor bath" (which meant there was a huge gaping hole upstairs, basically. We actually considered it for a bit, but then realized we were crazy.

We could certainly save for some more time and then get what we would really like. But even for a $400,000 SFH where we'd want to live, we'd need to save for 70 months at this rate just to get a down payment, and that doesn't include emergency funds, closing costs, etc.


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chicagoans wrote:
As a former teacher, have you considered teaching preschool or at a day care (somewhere that your kids could attend while you work) or in-home day care for other kids? Just a thought for something that would help you earn some extra money that could go straight to savings. (I'm a working mom and at one point had a nanny who brought her son with her. He was the same age as my son. Worked out OK for all of us.)

I did work as a nanny when my first daughter was small. It was a lot of work, since the children were at very different stages developmentally, but since the girls I nannied for were twins, it was doable. Now that I have two young children, I don't think it would be fair to any of the children in my care if my attention were further divided. My kids area exhausting enough on their own. :) And I personally wouldn't want to hire a nanny who would be toting along her own kids who would be bringing their own set of germs, naptime space needs, etc and imagine that's true for most people.

sheilajoyce said:
A pre school teacher makes very little money. A regular teaching job or a shared teaching job will result in a far better salary.

I was actually a Kindergarten teacher (although in a private school, not a public one - typically private school teachers make lower incomes). I am certified to teach preschool through 6th grade (but beyond 2nd or so just isn't for me), and have my masters in child development.


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Oh, and chicagoans, I could possible teach in a daycare where my children could attend, but I don't know how that's done around here. My friend does this in North Carolina. Her one daughter attends her center, and she still has to pay 1/2 of the tuition rate, which wipes out about 60% or so of her take home pay. So that scenario wouldn't work with two kids. But maybe it varies by center.

My staying home with the children is also a decision based on our values. We both really want our children to be home with me, to have a parent present for all of their milestones and learning experiences, and for me to be putting my teaching training to use on our own children.


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PeaG said:
"I don't want to live in some remote suburb with little culture and a terrible commute into the city."

Wow. What an attitude! Have you even been to some of these suburbs? I have lived on the waterfront in Boston and in several of the Boston suburbs. 20 miles from downtown Boston is not even close to being remote, there is plenty of culture and the commute can be decent if you choose wisely.

Obviously you made up your mind before you even wrote this post. Yes, the best thing is for you to buy this unit. Good luck.


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chispa said:

Wow. What an attitude! Have you even been to some of these suburbs? I have lived on the waterfront in Boston and in several of the Boston suburbs. 20 miles from downtown Boston is not even close to being remote, there is plenty of culture and the commute can be decent if you choose wisely.

Sorry, I didn't mean for that to be insulting. I chose my wording poorly and intended to say "cultural amenities," meaning museums, activities for children, restaurants, festivals, etc. I often write these replies when I get a rare moment when my children are occupied (and still often wind up getting interrupted and losing my train of thought). I didn't mean to imply that suburbs are cultural wastelands, just that they don't always have easy access to the amenities I prefer. Yes, I have been to many of them and have friends who live in Lexington, Melrose, and Natick who are very happy there.

I haven't made up my mind. I was simply trying to further illustrate why we were thinking this condo could make sense for us.


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Obviously which choice to make depends on one's individual situation and preferences. If it was me -- I would buy a house in a suburb. In fact, that is what I actually did when I had small children. Yes, there are trade offs but it was worth it to me to have a house that cost what I was wanting to pay and I found that the suburban areas were very family friendly. Now that my kids are older we still live in a suburb -- a different one but find that we rarely have to go all the way into the big city. There aren't many museums in the suburban areas but there are many, many activities for children, restaurants, festivals, etc. Just may depend on the specific of what you want. And for the things we had to go into the central city for -- such as museums -- we didn't find it onerous to do so.

In your situation there is sufficiently negative about the condo you are thinking of buying and the overall situation that if it was me I wouldn't buy it even if that meant I was renting instead....


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RE: Is this a good idea?

Living in that small condo is going to be a problem for your family over time. Why move from a larger unit where someone else pays all maintenance into a smaller unit where you pay all maintenance? The smaller unit is a lower quality of life or your family and there is a cost to this that you are not adding into your calculations.

It is going to be like living in an apartment. You won't be able to have a yard for the kids the play in. This is a big deal. And you won't be able to get a dog and let it out in the fenced yard like folks in SFHs can do. A condo is more like an apartment versus a SFH.

You should consider buying a SFH a little farther away for the same price. You then don't have to give up equity. You then have a yard and a garage hopefully. And you won't be stigmitized as living in the projects....I mean low income housing or whatever you call it. It is a stigma and the stigma will be with your kids at school whether you like it or not.

In the condo, you will hear folks that are on the other floors and you will hear folks that are on the other side of your attached walls.

When it's time for a new faucet or of the fridge breaks in 4 years, you will be paying for it. Stained or ruined carpet, you pay the bill. this stuff occurs even with newer homes/condos.

the tiny financial gain on owning this condo is wiped out by the negative of moving into a smaller unit and also wiped out by the stigma of living in the projects/low income housing. You are putting your family a notch lower in social pecking order.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

A bit of a digression but: I commend you PeaG for being so tolerant and receptive of all these comments and suggestions, some of which are certainly critical.

It isn't easy to stay calm and cool during an online forum discussion and I admire your manner of responding courteously to all points raised.

That's all, back to the discussion at hand. Good luck with your decision!


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RE: Is this a good idea?

I would be very unhappy (and I think my kids ultimately would, too) being far from these amenities and having to drive everywhere, especially long distances for anything fun.

Your children couldn't care less where they live...home is anywhere their mother and father are. You might have an issue if you were planning to move to a different area when they are teenagers, but at this age it's really a non-issue. Living in the suburbs can actually offer many more opportunities for children and their families than being in the city. Better schools, smaller classes, more opportunities to participate in extra-curricular activities etc etc... I think you need to open your eyes to other possibilities.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

"Your children couldn't care less where they live...home is anywhere their mother and father are."

I grew up living in an apartment with no yard. As a child, it was horrible to not have a yard to go toss around a ball or play. I knew is was a terrible place to live even when I was a child.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

khinmn92 wrote:

Living in the suburbs can actually offer many more opportunities for children and their families than being in the city. Better schools, smaller classes, more opportunities to participate in extra-curricular activities etc etc... I think you need to open your eyes to other possibilities.

True enough. But as I mentioned, this town in which this condo is located (Brookline) has exceptional schools with high budgets and class sizes. It's consistently ranked in the top 20 schools in the state by various publications. So, it's not as though one HAS to go to the far away suburbs to get that.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

Thanks, runninginplace! I appreciate your comment. :)


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RE: Is this a good idea?

Sorry - the post above should read low student-teacher ratios, not "high class sizes."


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RE: Is this a good idea?

You could get much better value, larger house and be in a higher rated school town. We lived in 2 of the top 5 rated school towns and there were lots of people who came from the areas of Brookiline, Cambridge, Belmont, etc. after having kids. There was some complaining about less choices of restaurants, but no one complained about the better schools and space for the kids to play.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

Just want to add there are lots of museums outside the downtown area. I lived in Acton many years ago. Very near there is the DeCordova with a beautiful outdoor sculpture garden that we brought our kids to all the time. There is the Concord Museum, the Children's Museum, Fruitlands Museum, a National Audubon Society farm property, the North Bridge Museum, and that's what I come up with off the top of my head! These places all have children's programs and cultural activities, workshops, classes. Oh, and Walden Pond was one of my childrens' favorite places. Swimming, practically free too. We also visited many other places, there are museums and cultural offerings all over that area. It is a very educated and fairly affluent population so these activities are well supported.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

As a former kid from the suburbs, I can say that taking a train or bus or even a car to a museum in the city makes the trip about 500 times more fun than walking to the museum when it's down the block. (Okay, as an adult I feel the same way if you strike out "bus".)

Just saying, the kids won't suffer from the lack of museums in the burbs. You will take them and it will take longer and it will be fun. And the suburbs aren't really a cultural wasteland.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

I'm with fori.

If your main reasoning is "lack of culture" that isn't true of the suburbs.

If your main reason it commute time. Well, then, I can't comment on that. Since I don't know your area well. But, I suspect that the commute time can be short in certain suburbs with certain methods of transportation.

Truly, you need to determine if you are being fair with your assessments--of the area (you said later it was more diverse than you initially stated); of your lifestyle now; of your lifestyle in a smaller, cramped space, etc.

I just know, that my friend who bought a townhouse in the city has been stuck there for 5 years now because they don't have the equity to move out to the suburbs like she'd like to be able to. And raising 2 kids in the city isn't really working out like they thought it would.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

I'm with fori.

If your main reasoning is "lack of culture" that isn't true of the suburbs.

If your main reason it commute time. Well, then, I can't comment on that. Since I don't know your area well. But, I suspect that the commute time can be short in certain suburbs with certain methods of transportation.

Truly, you need to determine if you are being fair with your assessments--of the area (you said later it was more diverse than you initially stated); of your lifestyle now; of your lifestyle in a smaller, cramped space, etc.

I just know, that my friend who bought a townhouse in the city has been stuck there for 5 years now because they don't have the equity to move out to the suburbs like she'd like to be able to. And raising 2 kids in the city isn't really working out like they thought it would.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

My husband and I are around the same age and live in the Boston suburbs, so we have similar circumstances except no kids atm. We also just concluded a 2-3 year house search 2 years ago with our first purchase.

From all you've shared, I think if I were you I would participate in this program in a heartbeat.

Pros:
-*Much* higher ranked schools in this town. Even if you stayed 5-8 years you're going to take advantage of the school.

-Shorter commute for your husband.

-It's a "burb", but not quite a burb. Offers so much amenities of a city with all the advantages of a surburb.

-Say you put down 5% or so down, 30 year mortgage. Your mortgage is likely to be 1400ish/month + 400 condo (are you sure? In my area, these restricted sale townhouses pay about 1/3 the condo fees the rest of us do) + much less taxes also, because 1.5%ish tax rate is based on your estimated home value.

My point is you probably pay $2K-2.2K/month for housing cost to live in this marvelous area, a small part of that going towards equity. (Some budget for things like heat, water increase.)

Now if you lived in your rental, you are subject to occasional rent increase, and you never get anything back.

The minute your rent increases (at whim of landlord) you'll need to look elsewhere, probably move further away like to Natick to maintain that house size.

-These affordable units are usually priced at 1/3 the cost of actual market costs, afaik. So what if you can't sell for a highly appreciated price? When you sell, you will get your equity back + some inflation protection.

In the meanwhile you get to live in an area others are willing to pay 2-3X more for. Why are they doing that? Because it's worth it to them.

-You'll never have a problem selling this house. ;)

----------------
Cons:

-Sounds like you get a smaller house than you'll like.
1250sf condo instead of 1500ish currently.

But you know, smaller spaces can work even with 4 people. Plenty of people (including me ;) )grew up in a 1200sf apartment for 5-7 people. Kids can share rooms and develop closer sibling relationship.

Will be nice to have more room, but you're giving them excellent schools and environments to grow up in. What's worth more?

-It may be a small stretch for your budget. This is tough - only you can decide if your budget has the flex to allow for unexpected expenses, and they *will* crop up.

Unexpected medical, bracers, vision, gas price increases, appliance malfunctioning, school trips, extra classes for kids, emergency savings. Is your husband's job secure? Is his wages very variable?

-Would you feel bad being the poor kid in the neighbourhood? Will your children, when they go to school with kids who can afford the latest toys and cool birthday parties? This may be a consideration, esp since in the wealthy areas of boston metrowest *everything* seem to be marked up. (Restaurants, groceries cost more, gas prices cost more, etc)
---------------------

-You may be 1 income and live in expensive Boston metrowest but imo your income is actually decent for your needs. If I were in your shoes I would do this immediately, and sign up for programs in other desirable suburbs. :D

In the townhouse complex I live now, there are 3 affordable units and I haven't heard these neighbours mention/comment on problems with anything.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

It may be worth it just for the Brookline schools.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

The OP is entitled to want to live wherever she wants. Plenty of normal, intelligent kids grow up in apartments, townhouses and condos in cities. Single family houses are not the gold standard for everyone. Our oldest child still bemoans the fact that we took him from an apartment on the 31st floor of the upper east side of Manhattan to a gorgeous small town in suburban St. Louis (Ladue). The other kids were too young to complain but as adults they all wish we had stayed in NYC--- as do I! Kids don't have a bad life in cities, they have a different life. PeaG's kids can play in the park every day and will have access to more activities. When they go to school she can go back to work part time. Moving to a smaller place is not the end of the world. They can probably get rid of 250 square feet of junk!

PeaG, there is one thing I would be concerned about, and that is the "assisted housing" aspect of this move. One poster above said that you would be lowering your socioeconomic status to move into this development. I have no idea if that is true, but if it is, DON'T DO IT. How can you know? Look at the educational level of the people there. You have your masters and obviously your husband is at least a college grad.v what about your potential neighbors? Their level of educational attainment AND a sampling of their professions will tell you a lot. I'm not trying to be elitist, but you won't have much fun there if the other parents in the kids' school won't mix socially because of where you live, and/or if there are no kids in the development you want your kids to play with (kids who don't read, or exercise, who don't want to go to museums or plays, etc.)

If those questions are answered to your satisfaction, I would make the move if you can get rid of one of your cars. If your husband will be 2.5 miles from his job, he can take public transport or ride a bike. Then you can save the amount of the payment and/or upkeep. After you have a decent emergency fund you can start paying more down on the house or just save for your eventual down payment on something larger.

Good luck with this decision. You have been unbelievably gracious in accepting some comments on this thread that were rude or ignorant (or both) and I wish you well.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

My read of your posting is that the condo isn't really where you want to live. You say you want to use it as a forced savings vehicle. Just force yourself to save, living where you are, and you get the benefit of renting a below market place that is larger and saving. When you've saved enough then move to where you really want to live. You need to think long term. Getting into and out of a house is expensive. In the long run you will be far better off getting into the right place and staying put.

I also agree with those thinking about the socioeconomic status issue. We live in an upper middle class to upper class neighborhood (home prices to about a million). About 7 yrs ago an older gentleman sold a house below market to a family of drug dealers. As a neighborhood we've been very unsuccessful at dealing with them. They've been under foreclosure for over 6 yrs. Living in subsidized housing means you will be surrounded by those who really can't afford to be where they are.

What will this mean when they stop making payments but the bank can't get them out? What sort of kids will they have? Will they care about the neighbors when they have loud parties or start dealing drugs to make money? I suggest you move into a nice neighborhood where people have worked for what they have and have pride of ownership. Our HOA has been useless. We have DEA agents creeping through the yard with guns drawn and the kids spread eagle over police cars as they search the house. Going on 7 yrs of this. The house is completely trashed and may have to be torn down due to drug contamination. If you have to sacrifice your city amenities to get into a good place with people who take pride in their homes and worked hard to get there in the long run you will be much happier. Read a bit about what happened to tenement housing. This new development could turn into one.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

Oops, meant to say look at what happened in the project housing, not tenement. Another example is what happens to neighborhoods when there are a large number of foreclosures. A quick decline, with alot of crime.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

Mic11, while I sympathize about the horrible ordeal your neighborhood is dealing with, I find your general attitude on the socioeconomic status apalling.

OP, certainl take the socioeconomic aspects into consideration. Classism certainly is alive and well. I can share with you my experiences on that scale. I was born in Oregon and for the first 8 years of my life lived in low income housing (not subsidized home loans like you are talking about). This was in a more affluent neighborhood. At that time, I had no clue as to the differences between myself and my school peers. As a kid, it was a great place to live as there many other kids to play with.

We left OR for NC. There, low income housing was a different animal and I was more aware of my different racial status than the economic status (there were only 2 Caucasian families in this large complex, us being one). But, I still had many great friends to play with as there were a lot of kids.

The move to NC was because my step-dad was a Marine. Once we moved into base housing and changed schools I was much more aware of my difference. My step-dad was enlisted and the school I went to with the accelerated program had mainly officer's children. I think my awareness stemmed more from the military culture though. Looking back, I wished I had been in that school system longer. My education would have benefited sooo much, it would have been a great opportunity if I was keenly aware of the differences in status.

Later I lived in a trailer park in NC and then we moved to California where attitudes on socioeconomic status are more relaxed but the disparities were more visible (think the Palm Springs area, huge disparities). Some areas had more drugs than other. Most of the kids I grew up with/around became successful, responsible, tax-paying citizens. Some are probably in jail but, I have no doubt that some of the "rich" kids are in jail too. I am grateful for the lessons I learned navigating those spheres and how they have led me to be a compassionate, well-rounded adult.

Of course now I live in a semi-rural community on 5 acres but that is more because I wanted space to garden but my family could also be happy in the city.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

I hope OP can return and update us on status soon.

I don't think the OP will have the low income housing problems you guys worry about. In this area (Boston suburbs) these 40B developments are really nice.

The developer usually builds his normal premium townhouses/condos for sale, but if he allocates 25% for 40B like the one OP wants to move into, he will find it easier to get approval for his plans. So really she will be moving into a place others will pay 3X the price for, in exchange for restrictions on resale.

For her part, even taxes/maintenance fees are usually decreased and about 1/3 lower than that for other residents. The only downside she will risk is envy from neighbours who can't qualify for the deal.

http://www.westboylston-ma.gov/Pages/WBoylstonMA_ZBA/40bfaq.pdf here's an example from a quick google search.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

tishtoshnm,

I'm curious as to what you find appalling? My experience is that buying in an area where people can afford their homes will make it a better area. For example when I bought my first home I paid $150K in a 1970s development of older homes. Realtors thought I could qualify for up to $350K but I wasn't comfortable buying at the level they suggested as I did not see how I could ever pay off the house. I had saved up the required 20% down payment for the house I bought. There were many $300K-$400K new neighborhoods in the area that could get anyone in, no matter their qualifications. They were very nice houses. Much fancier than the one I bought. Then housing went bust. My little 1970s neighborhood had no noticeable foreclosure rate. No crime popped up. It maintained a good reputation and that house is worth $300K today. The neighborhoods where people couldn't really afford their payments had massive foreclosures and really hurt the values of those who were paying their mortgage. Those homes are worth half what they originally were sold for. When folks can't afford to pay they don't improve, don't keep things up and some segment will turn to crime to support themselves.

I grew up in an early 1900s house which today is a section 8 house so in no way would be considered an affluent area. We had great neighbors but everyone pretty much could afford their house. I remember some teen age trouble makers but don't remember there being foreclosures. Back then to buy a house people had to save up a down payment and then buy something they could afford.

All I'm doing is suggesting the OP look for such an area that meets their requirements for where they really want to live. I see no conflict with anything you've posted about how you grew up. Going to college I didn't even know I grew up lower economic class until I took a class which discussed it and everyone had to self identify so I went to the middle class group. Then when they started discussing what everyone in the group had a couple of us, myself included, had to switch groups and my upbringing fit in the lower economic class.

I'm not on the board qualifying people for the properties the OP is looking at. Maybe those properties will have a better ability to move out non-paying residents. But if they don't, the risk to the OP is huge in terms of quality of life if they find themselves unable to afford to move out.

BTW, our home is paid for. As is that of several of the neighbors I know well enough to know their financial status. Several I know have mortgages but they are lower than what the OP is looking at paying. People who have overextended themselves to live here are more on edge and a bit more high strung. Everyone has to make a choice how they want to live and I'm a fan of living well below my means. Always have been. I don't get cable TV and my car is 13 yrs old but paid off. I paid cash for it. Spouses car also paid cash for and is 10 yrs old. We could afford to buy new cars and pay cash. But can't see the point since ours work just fine. Some furniture is from garage sales but is solid wood and nice enough. Some I've had since when I just got out of college. I liked it then and still do. We own an RV. Guess what? We paid cash for it. But only after we paid off the house. We don't buy stuff we can't afford to pay for and we don't buy things that aren't what we want just because we can or it is on sale.

OP's original question was "This place is not a bad opportunity, but not what we always hoped for (our own small space without shared walls, a yard, etc.), so if there's another way we should look at this, I'd love to hear it. "

The OP also said "Income limit for a family of four is just over $100,000. This is for the "moderate income" batch of units in the development. It goes up to the median income in the town. 1/2 of the units are being offered to families in the moderate income bracket, 1/2 are being offered to families considered "low income" (>80% of the median). The units for each income category are identical, so we'd be living immediately next door to people in the exact same unit who paid $150,000 to get in. The lowest cost units are 2-bedrooms for $140,000. There are no market rate units, but they did sell plots of land on the same property for people to build market rate homes. The plots of land sold for $1M each."

This is where my alarm bells went off. A concentration of people taking homes just because they can, not necessarily where they want to be, planning to be temporary residents and potentially not financially able to be in the house.

That is the question I was answering and they may or may not value the perspective of someone like myself. Seems you don't but I still don't see what is so appalling about my perspective. Yours is a fine one. You grew up in low income housing and know lots of successful people. Personally I think that is a completely different situation than subsidized housing. I have family in the military and 4 nieces and nephews getting a similar upbringing to you. They are getting exposed to good hardworking people. Nothing wrong with that.

I'd live in a trailer park if everyone owned their own units and was keeping them up. When we leave this house I would love to get a little place like my 1970s ranch. Small, cheap to keep up, and good no crime neighborhood with relaxed residents.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

My reaction is to the notion that socioeconomic status is the determing factors as to whether or not people take care of their property and what kind of children they may have (more so the children). Pride of ownership can transcend poverty, loud parties can happen in any neighborhood. Drugs (as you know) are not to limited poor neighborhoods.

My prefernece would be to also look for my own place without the constraints of living in such a development. Whether or not the decision to move into this development is worth the trade offs can only be determined by the OP but this type of development certainly does not seem to be at risk for becoming tenement like.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

Then I think you read my original post wrong or I did not express myself well. The OP states they already live in an affluent area. This 'opportunity' would get them into a more affluent area but with people who are living in subsidized housing. I gave an example where people in an affluent area where they couldn't afford their housing decided on crime for an income. This same family living in a more appropriate house, that they could afford to pay for, maybe wouldn't be drug dealers.

I can't pretend to really understand the mentality of wanting more, more, more. But I think I understand the mentality (at least a little bit) of those who try to be on public assistance. They've learned that people will give them stuff for free. They've also learned that if they do things for themselves they won't get as much free stuff. In fact the less they do the more free stuff they get. I think (and I may be wrong) a subsidized housing environment is likely to attract this type of person. It certainly wouldn't attract someone like me and it sounds like it wouldn't attract someone like you either.

No one goes around handing out subsidized houses in a normal neighborhood. I feel your going to get a better class of people (at all economic levels) in this type of neighborhood and that is how I would make my choice on where to live.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

Mic, the reason that towns in Massachusetts "go around handing out subsidized housing" is because it's a state law that 10% of a town's housing must be developed as affordable housing.

I live in one of the affluent metro-west Boston communities that has actually reached the target percentage. At one time I considered one of the moderate income developments in this town, but ended up buying the house of a family friend instead. AFAIK there is no significant stigma to living in one of these developments.

Peag, I think you should go for it if you like the house reasonably well. The numbers don't seem that bad to me - I pay 2 mortgages on an income significantly less than your family's - although I have more savings (and dip in there sometimes) and my son is grown.

If you don't like living there, you can try hard to save up a bigger down payment, plus you are likely to have some modest equity in your unit - perhaps more likely than market-rate housing if there is a downturn in the housing market. Then you can plan to move to a SFH!


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RE: Is this a good idea?

wow...what a long thread to read...

well, I also live in the Boston area, in a very close urban suburb to the city. My husband & I are both teachers in public school with great salaries. Our teacher friend bought a condo in Boston with one of those perks...she won some housing "lottery" and was able to get the deal with little down, etc. She stayed there for 5-7 years (and meanwhile, got married and had 2 small kids.) When it was time to sell, the market went down, and she did not make any money on it. In the end, she felt like a renter with more paperwork. Living in a smaller space with kids is hard, period. She finally moved out and bought her parents house at a good price.

There are other "cheaper" close suburbs around Boston that give you backyards and garages. These urban suburbs have a mix of students in the classroom. I know, I am a teacher, and my son is in a diverse classroom that brings a unique experience to the learning environment.

My point is...you dont need to live in Brookline or Lexington or Weston to get "everything." Urban cities with urban classrooms also create a great learning experience. My son's classroom is a little utopia of everything.

Living in MA period...the schools are a step ahead of other states...we have always had superior standards to teach. Therefore, even a "poorer" suburb is teaching well above the standards of any school in MS or UT. In MA, we have always been at the top. Therefore, all schools in MA (now beginning across the country since we have the common core standards...sorry, school talk)

I would stop worrying about closeness to museums and what is considered a good school zipcode. Dont buy a small condo and be stuck. Youre a teacher...you should be a good parent...save and buy a small house in a cheaper, closer neighborhood, and get the small backyard if that is what you can afford. Improvise and you will be happy.

I imagine if you moved into the condo...a year or two down the line, you would feel stuck. You always have options when you rent....you can always move...not in a condo..


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RE: Is this a good idea?

Hi all,

I am reviving this thread from the dead to say thank you to all who took the time to comment. You all really gave me a lot to chew on in the past two months!

We (finally!) came to a decision, after months of hemming and hawing and debating giving up our deposit and backing out. Several things happened during that time:

1. Our landlord said he would be raising the rent by at least $150 next year.
2. Our interest rate dropped to 3.75 (with no PMI)
3. The property was (mostly) completed, and it was nicer than we imagined, it seemed bigger, and we could actually start to picture ourselves there.
4. My husband's second car required several expensive repairs and left him stranded one evening.
5. My 1 year-old daughter picked up a paint chip that had fallen from our supposedly deleaded windowsill, and I randomly decided to test it for lead (just happened to have a test kit lying around). It came up positive, as did half of the windowsill. (Thankfully, I fished it out of her mouth, and so far her blood work is coming back OK.)

Now we're not "signs" people, but it was hard to ignore all of these events that kept pointing us to Brookline, despite our resistance! It was almost too much, really.

So, to spare you any more "suspense" (I'm sure you see where I'm going), we closed on the condo last week. And we feel at peace with it. Sure, I am apprehensive, as I don't really know what we're getting ourselves into in a lot of regards, but the reality is that we were going to have to move anyway, my husband's car (which we won't need in Brookline) is dangerously close to the end of its life, and with the interest rate drop, we will actually be paying LESS than our current rental (and less than any advertised 3-bedroom rental surrounding Boston - and I've been watching closely). Closing costs were around $4,000, including prepaid interest, so that's a cost we'll eat, but we'll make over that in equity in the first year. And everything is under warranty for the first year, so there should be no unforeseen expenses for that time period. When/if we go to sell, we will pay only a lawyer and a few document fees. No realtors or negotiations.

So, that's it. The update. I've thought of this forum often and have wanted many times to write, but we've been busily downsizing and are beginning to pack. Truthfully, I am a bit afraid of the smaller space, but I'm cautiously optimistic that it will be very good for us and will prevent us from becoming focused on "stuff" as opposed to experiences. I've shed a lot of the consumerism of my youth, and really do like the idea of living a simple, uncluttered, (and hopefully organized!) life. The bonus is that we've made a decent amount of money off Craigslist sales. And, yes, that went right into savings. :)

I wanted to thank all of you again for taking the time to really think through our dilemma and for helping point out considerations that had flown under our radar. This is really a lovely community (even the somewhat snarky comments were still well thought out and the added perspective was appreciated) and I will definitely be back to solicit additional advice as a homeowner!


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RE: Is this a good idea?

How would you sell the place w/o realtor fees?


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RE: Is this a good idea?

We just inform the town of our desire to move on, and they calculate the selling price (based on a formula that involves the median income at that time and a portion of any capital improvements). They then advertise it on their website and to their extensive mailing list of people interested in their affordable housing. The town then confirms that applicants have the appropriate income and can qualify for a mortgage, and they go from there. No realtor involvement.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

Congratulations PeaG! Long may you enjoy your new place. :)


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RE: Is this a good idea?

Thanks for the follow up. It's always good to hear back from the OP about how things turned out. Good luck!


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RE: Is this a good idea?

Congratulations PeaG, Brookline is a nice town and great location. Be sure to come back and let us know how you like the house.


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RE: Is this a good idea?

PeaG

Your attitude was refreshing on this thread. To admit financial blunders in your past and open yourself up to criticism and having a desire to improve is very commendable. Most would make excuses and you didn't. I wish you the best of luck!


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RE: Is this a good idea?

Congratulations! I read this thread many times. Home ownership is important to a family and I'm glad it worked out.


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