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There is a growing trend among American home buyers: Bloomberg reports that 17% of home-buyers in the United States are single women, while only 7% are single men. One reason single women are more likely to purchase a house is they are more likely than single men to be single parents, and therefore want a house that their children can call home.
Another reason single women are purchasing homes is that there are more of them: 20% of Americans age 25 and older have never been married, and University of California at Santa Barbara professor Bella DePaulo says “unmarried women are more likely to embrace being single as a lifestyle.” Women are also willing to take a second job or rework their budgets to save for a down payment because they value home ownership so much. If you are a single woman considering becoming a first-time homebuyer, these tips will help you determine whether it is the right choice.
- Know What You Can Afford
The first step toward home-ownership is knowing how much you can afford. Calculating a monthly mortgage payment is important to do to see how much you will be spending monthly. You also need to consider the down payment, closing costs, home insurance, property taxes, home inspection fees, and other costs associated with the home-buying process.
If you work with an agent to find your dream home, read the fine print in the contract so you know what commission fee you will owe. And, be sure to consider whether the home requires any repairs. In some cases, sellers will include some funds from the sale proceeds to be used towards certain repairs or necessary upgrades. In other cases, buyers can negotiate with sellers to have them make specific repairs prior to the sale.
Of course, you also will have monthly costs for utilities including electricity, water, sewer, garbage, and heating (if you have oil or gas rather than electric heat). You also may have a monthly cable or internet bill, a phone bill, and a homeowners’ association fee if you live in an area that requires membership dues. You must know each cost and not leave out any fees if you are going to work out an accurate budget to know how much house you can afford.
- Shop Around for Financing
You must be aggressive and be your best advocate when shopping for financing. The bank that holds your checking account may not offer you the best interest rates when you seek a mortgage. Some studies show that women pay more for mortgages than men, so educate yourself about your credit score and your options when you meet with potential lenders.
Another important piece of shopping around for financing is to check with as many mortgage lenders as possible. Don’t be afraid to look into credit unions or government lending options for first-time homebuyers. There are several first-time homebuyer grants and programs that can help single women purchase a home, including a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan with a competitive interest rate and smaller down payment, a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) loan for residences in certain rural areas, a Veterans Affairs (VA) loan for service members/veterans and surviving spouses, and a Good Neighbor Next Door program for police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers.
- Take Someone with You When You Tour Potential Homes
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of looking at potential homes, so it’s a good idea for anyone trying to find her first home to take along a trustworthy friend or family member who can be your voice of reason. Househunting alone could result in you falling in love with a home that requires too many repairs, a home that is too large for you and will be too much for you to maintain, or a home that will not grow with you and your needs.
You are more likely to make a better home-buying decision when you invite a trustworthy person to walk through properties with you and serve as a sounding board throughout the home-buying process. This person will be much more objective than you will be when your emotions come into play when becoming a first-time home-buyer.
If you are a single woman looking for advice for the home-buying process, know that you are not alone. More single women are purchasing homes than ever before, and they are making better buying decisions by knowing what they can afford, shopping around for the best financing, and taking an objective person with them while visiting potential homes.
Author bio: Michael Longsdon is the creator of ElderFreedom.net, which advocates for the rights and support of seniors.Find Realtors Now