REAL ESTATE: Can single moms afford to buy in Manhattan?

The Gilbert

BY MARTHA WILKIE | Facebook is full of helpful groups for every possible interest. Parenting groups in particular offer a chance to give and get advice on many New Yorkers’ favorite topics: real estate and schools.

Recently, a newly single mom asked for advice about buying a home on a teacher’s salary. Crazy pipe dream? She wants to stay on the Upper East Side, would be a first-time homebuyer, and doesn’t have the funds for a big down payment.

Encouragement poured in. One mom found middle-income housing through waiting lists, another had luck with H.D.F.C. (Housing Development Fund Corporation) co-ops in East Harlem, and others obtained F.H.A. (Federal Housing Administration) loans for first-time buyers with low down payments.

One naysayer was less sanguine, pointing out that saving on the down payment means borrowing more.

One good tip: Sponsor units can be more affordable and often don’t require board approval. The catch is that they can be in sad shape, since often a rent-controlled tenant lived there for decades without renovating and left the unit — and this mortal coil — at the same time.

Rachel Koenig is an agent with Compass and also parenting solo.

“It’s hard to navigate life in New York as a single mom, but she has options,” Koenig said. “I encourage her to think beyond the Upper East Side. I just sold a two-bedroom in Harlem in a brand-new building with excellent amenities for under $900,000. Condo, so only 10 percent down.

“The neighborhood is full of families,” she continued. “Morningside Park has a beautiful waterfall and pond where kids feed the friendly turtles. There’s even a new Levain Bakery on Frederick Douglass and W. 117th where, unlike the other locations, there’s never a line!”

A snappy kitchen is part of the package with this E. 76th St. apartment.

Lovely one bedroom, one bath on E. 76th St., with charming kitchen. With a Murphy bed in the large living room, it’d be perfect. Co-op, so need at least 20 percent down.


If Mom likes entertaining, this E. 79th St. unit with is large living room might be for her.

In Lenox Hill, a nicely renovated one-bedroom, one-bath sponsor condo with a large living room is asking $595,000.


There’s room for Junior, too, in this Upper East Side two-bedroom.

On E. 79th, a two-bedroom, one-bath sponsor unit is listed at $875,000.


If Mom’s on a tight budget, The Gilbert on First could be a good option.

If she ends up renting, the Gilbert on First in East Harlem is a new building offering attractive affordable units — mixed-rate and rent-stabilized (via a lottery), studios start at $328!