If you are a single woman thinking about buying a home, you are not alone. More than one in five homebuyers is a single woman, twice as many as single men. Although the reasons are as varied as the women, some of their reasons are:
- A strong desire to be independent and in control of their own future
- Single women are more likely to be single parents, desiring a stable home for their children
- Don’t want the hassle of dealing with a landlord
- Desire to customize their own home
- Tired of paying someone else’s mortgage
- Desire to become part of a community
Regardless of how excited you may be to own your own home, buying alone can be scary. Here are some things to consider.
1. Don’t go it alone
You will be the one ultimately responsible so decisions are yours but select some trusted advisers to help you through the process: a reputable lender and an insightful, knowledgeable Realtor who really listens to you for starters. It’s different when you don’t have a partner with you in the process. It can be easier because you don’t have to agree, but it can also be harder because you don’t have someone close to you to affirm and challenge you. Many buyers like to bring along a close friend or family member who knows them well as a ‘reality’ check for part of the search process. Having the support of your friends and family can make a big difference.
2. Follow your heart
Where you live can have a profound effect on you and your well-being. If you love a certain lifestyle don’t let your support system steer you away from it. They may steer you towards a condo or town home for lack of maintenance, but if you really want a yard and a garden and are prepared for home maintenance find a home with a yard and a garden… and vice versa. Your home should be your sanctuary which nurtures YOU.
3. Don’t expect it to be perfect
Make location your top priority, then style and condition as it relates to what fits your lifestyle and what MUST be done before you can live there. Cosmetic upgrades can come later. In fact, I often advise my clients to live in a new home for awhile before making changes so you can make make changes based on how you actually live in the space.
4. Know your financial situation
As a single buyer, you alone are responsible for your down payment and credit score which helps determine your mortgage qualification and interest rate. Talk to your lender about preparations and possible down payment assistance or gift money as an option for your purchase if needed, but don’t forget to also factor in the inevitable surprises once you own your home. If the furnace goes out or you lose your job you will be the one responsible for making the payments. Be sure to have reserves available if needed.
- Don’t push your limits – be careful of buying a house at the top end of your range
- You have only one income to rely on – you should feel comfortable that you can cover not only your mortgage, utilities and regular maintenance costs but also unexpected expenses
- Have at least enough to cover several home payments tucked away in savings
- Avoid real estate envy – buy a home you can realistically afford while maintaining your lifestyle
5. Consider your future
Whenever you buy you should also consider potential resale of your property should things change in your future. After all, the only constant in life is change! Some changes you can plan for, others may be unexpected. Think about job, relationships, children, health, retirement…
6. Get a thorough home inspection
Don’t skimp on your home inspection. This is important for any home buyer, but even more so for those going it alone. Buy with your eyes wide open on current, future and ongoing maintenance costs. Get current averages for utility costs to plug into your monthly home budget.
7. Consider a home warranty
A home warranty can be a life saver if the furnace goes out… but if the furnace is a rust bucket when you buy it, don’t expect them to cover it. One of my single sellers raved about her home warranty, which she had kept the entire 10 years she owned her home. She loved that if something wasn’t working all she had to do was call the warranty company and go to work. When she came home it was fixed or replaced!
8. Love the benefits
Owning your own home can give you freedom, confidence, satisfaction, joy. In the words of one recent single woman homebuyer, “I love it – my house, my space… my rules!”
RE/MAX Results HomesMSP Team – firstname.lastname@example.org