Written by Cindy Aldridge
Approximately 20 percent of U.S. homebuyers are single women — nearly double the number of single men. Real estate experts suggest this is because women have a strong desire to own their own property, need more space or want to relocate closer to their job, school, or family.
Some trends among buyers include the preference of two bedrooms or more, the city over the suburbs, condos over single-family homes, a desire for security, close to entertainment and modern day conveniences, and the willingness to compromise size in lieu of desirable amenities. Of course, buying solo can be more difficult from a financial and maintenance perspective, so Balancing Life & Kids explains how to navigate the process in an effort to become a successful single homeowner.
Figure Out What You Can Afford
First thing's first: You've got to figure out what you can afford based on annual income, down payment, monthly spending, loan type and current average APR. Use an easy online tool
to help you through this process. Make sure you're being realistic about your spending habits so that you're not purchasing something that's beyond your means. Secondly, it behooves you to pay off as much existing debt as possible — especially credit cards — in order to improve your chances of getting a desirable loan while being a more appealing candidate to a seller.
Factors To Consider When Choosing A Home
Once you figure out what you can afford, it can be easy to get scared off by the monthly payment. Sure, it's more difficult to save on one income — especially if you have student loan bills and other forms of debt — but don't let this deter you from your goal. Look into a down payment assistance program that can help you acquire your property with less money down. Worst-case scenario, consider lining up a guarantor or co-purchaser if you have a lower income, lack or reserve or overall funds.
As a single income household, It's also important that you purchase a property below the amount they've been approved for so that you have a cushion for home repairs and other financial obligations and emergencies. In this case, consider a different neighborhood, a smaller property, or a fixer-upper.
Ease Moving Day Stress
When it comes to easing moving stress as a single homeowner, consider hiring professional movers and packers to help make the transition as fast and easy as possible. These experts know how to perfectly pack boxes to prevent damage, yet your goods will also be insured just in case. Find a moving company near you that gets top ratings from previous customers and who offers competitive rates.
Also, make sure you pack an essentials box that won't get lost in the shuffle on moving day. This carton should contain crucial first night/day items such as toiletries, a change of clothes, pajamas, medication, pet items, snacks, disposable plates and utensils, cleaning supplies, bed linens, pet items, flashlight, bottle and can openers and an all-purpose tool. Keep your electronics, chargers, money and credit cards with you at all times.
When You Share the Mortgage
If at some point during your mortgage journey, you wound up in a relationship and decided to share the financial responsibility of home ownership, it's important to know what happens in the case of a breakup or a divorce. Decide whether or not you want to buy out your ex's interest in the house (or vice versa) or jointly sell the property to a third party — this is easier and cheaper for both of you.
When it comes to a divorce, selling is usually the best option from a financial and logical perspective, though it can be more difficult emotionally — especially if kids are involved. Alternatively, if one spouse wants to keep the home, it needs to be refinanced under their name if he/she can afford to do so. If you can't afford to sell the home, consider a short sale (will have a negative impact on your credit score), rent the property or continue to live together until you can afford to move.
Buying a home as a single woman can feel like an overwhelming task at first, and there is definitely a lot to consider, but if you have the means and the desire, taking this plunge can be a great way to build your wealth and pave the way for a stable financial future.