First off, I would like to tell you that this story of buying a home does have a happy ending. At the time it was far from it. I noticed a content call from Associated Content and while I doubt my story is exactly what they are looking for I feel it is finally time to tell it.
In 1996 I was living in Southern California. I was married to my now ex-husband and had two daughters, ages two and new born. I had a one bedroom mobile home that I had purchased well before marriage and children. My father had been living in California but had passed away in 1995. My mother was living in Southwest Ohio. I first decided it was time to “go home” before my second daughter was born. I thought that Ohio might be a better place to raise a family and wanted my children to be near their grandmother. I thought my job opportunities might be better as well as we were living in the desert, a resort and tourist area. My mother was thrilled with the thought of our coming to Ohio and started on a house hunt for us. It was a scary and big decision for me but it seemed the right one.
I told my mother that we could not afford a “real” home and was stubbornly insistent about that. I had her in search of a manufactured or mobile home type. Before I proceed with my story any further you should know that I managed to get myself through a junior college with an A.S. degree in Engineering, Dean’s list even. I had worked hard for years, saved money and had a very solid credit record. No arrests, no problems in my history. I had also been offered a good position with a local company once I arrived in Ohio. My mother and a real estate friend of hers hunted for a couple of months and finally found something we all liked in an acceptable manufactured home park in Miamisburg Ohio.
Now the true story begins. My mother and her friend made many trips to the home park in Miamisburg, looking at various listings. They went to the park office on several occasions to check the rules and regulations for residency. The park manager told them that once they had started buying negotiations all they would need to do was send me an application for residency form as a formality and then bring it back to the office. My mother did explain to them fully that I, my husband, and two daughters were in Southern California and were having her and the agent handle all the arrangements. This seemed fine by them. You might also want to know that my mother was a very proper British sort of lady with a very acceptable first and last name.
My mother and our agent began the process for purchasing the mobile home. We put down a $1000 earnest deposit and I filled out the residency forms and sent them to my mother. She took them to the park office before going to work in the morning. The very next day she received a letter from the park manager in the mail. (Rather fast postal service?) It stated that they were sorry but there was a rule that they needed to meet with all potential residents in person before accepting the application. She called them immediately. She reminded them that she had spoken with them on several occasions, they were aware that we were in Southern California and they had never mentioned this “rule” before. They replied that they were very sorry but that was just simply the way it was, no ifs, ands or buts.
She was in tears when she called me. She had spoken with the real estate agent and done some checking. It was obvious to all of us that there was only one very simple reason for this. My married surname was not “acceptable” and my husbands’ first name was even less so. Again, my credit rating was exemplary, my police record? not even a driving ticket. A good solid job lined up and verifiable upon arrival. No problems with any bank loans…. No, the only difference from one day to the next was my last name. It was not the same as the proper British lady’s whom they had met. She and the agent also toured the park one more time to pay closer attention to an otherwise unlooked detail. Yes, the residents did “all look alike”, no color or ethnic variations here.
I was in tears and so angry I could scream. I had tried so hard to overcome the fear of moving across country to a new life. I had been packing and preparing. I had listed my mobile home for sale. We were ready to go. My mother even tried to figure out a way for us to come out for the “interview” but we all decided that it would be impossible and futile. We would of course loose the $1000 deposit we had placed with the home seller but I was too angry to care. The agent did tell us that we could very easily take this to court for discrimination but the outcome would be that the park would have to let us live there. I emphatically said NO; I did not want to ever live somewhere where I was not welcome. I was not going to waste our time with court.
I did say this story had a happy ending and it does. We did loose the $1000, whatever. What we gained was a real home. Once I got past my stubborn refusal my mother and the agent convinced me that home prices in Ohio were not the same as California and I really could afford one. In August of 1996 I packed my family and headed across country to a home that my daughters and I are still living in. I purchased it sight unseen, all through my mother, as my legal representative, and the agent. A very nice Cape Cod style house, three bedrooms, one being upstairs in the half story and a full basement. We have a nice size yard and a lot of garden space where I grow flowers and vegetables. More than twelve years later I still go outside and run my hands through the dirt. I own this little piece of land, I don’t rent it. I still use my ex-husbands last name. First I kept it for the sake of my daughters and now because; even today it bothers some people. I amuse myself in unusual ways.