Home Girl: A Quick Guide to Buying a Home as a Single Woman

Girl Power

Most people look forward to certain milestones in life. They celebrate high school graduation, buying their first car and working their first full-time job. These are milestones you work towards on your own. Yet buying a house is often left off the list.

Many women talk about buying property in a traditional way. They wait until they have a long-term partner or get married to afford a house for a future family. While that’s an ideal plan for many people, it’s not so easy when you’re single and feel ready for homeownership.

Don’t wait for someone else to come along and buy the home you’ve been eyeing. Instead, discover how to buy a home as a single woman. Once you’re informed, you can enter the process prepared and ready to pounce. Not only will you find the home of your dreams, but you’ll feel a sense of achievement doing it on your own.

Check Your Credit Score

The first step before any major purchase is to check your credit score. This score tells lenders how likely they are to get their money back — and if you make payments on time. If you have a low credit score, you’ll want to look into debt repayment and consolidation options.

An excellent credit score is 800, but anything higher than 700 will land you a mortgage. While some lenders may offer you a loan with a low rating, it will likely come with exorbitant interest rates. As your score climbs, lenders will be more obliged to offer a bigger loan and lower interest.

Consider Your Mortgage Payment

When you live in an apartment, you pay rent. When you transition to a home, you move this payment to a mortgage. The amount of your monthly payments will drive your financial life for years to come. Don’t sign any papers until you consider how much you can afford.

It’s recommended to look for a mortgage payment that’s at or below 28 percent of your income — roughly equal to one week’s paycheck. Including any other debt you have, your total monthly bills shouldn’t be more than two weeks’ worth of pay.

A mortgage that hogs more than 28 percent of your income is likely to cost more than you can comfortably afford. You don’t want your future finances to be challenging to manage. If one lender tries to force you into a big monthly payment, move onto another.

Research Different Mortgage Lenders

Research the various mortgage lenders in your area and compile a list of your favorites. Narrow it down to the top five, then meet with them in person. Each lender will offer you something different. Decide which option will save you money in the long run.

For example, say you want a $300,000 loan. One bank offers you a four percent interest rate, while a credit union provides a 4.5 percent interest rate. By choosing the bank’s option, you’ll save over $22,000 in interest. Talk with as many people as possible and do the math before you sign for your mortgage.

Buy Only What You Need

Women learn about the pressure to have kids from an early age. It starts with baby dolls, grows into babysitting and ends with a lifetime of conversations about when you’ll be ready to settle down. The topic of raising kids has an extended history, dating back to the 1800s when medical professionals regarded motherhood as a woman’s divine role in society.

As a single homebuyer, you may feel pressured to buy a place that’s bigger than you need. A big house has bedrooms for kids, a kitchen for cooking family meals and potentially a larger yard for outdoor play. If you don’t think having kids is in your future, buy only what you need.

Ignore the voices telling you to buy for your future. Think about your budget and the loan you’ll receive. If you need to upgrade, you can always sell and move on. For right now, get a house you’ll feel comfortable in.

Research Crime Data

One of the unfortunate aspects of being a single woman is you have to think about your safety a lot. You’re a target for more crimes since no one is home to help you defend against the intruder.

Single women should research the crime data in any area they’re interested in moving to. Call the local non-emergency police line to ask for crime reports. You can also go online and look up registered sex offenders in the area. You might avoid a tragic situation by researching a neighborhood before you buy a home there.

Don’t House Hunt Alone

You shouldn’t house hunt alone for two reasons. First, it’s safer to have someone by your side. You don’t want to visit an empty home with a realtor you don’t know. Bring a friend or family member to make the experience more comfortable.

Second, that person may catch details you would otherwise overlook. While the realtor is pointing to the recently updated appliances, your tour partner might find water damage in the ceiling.

Take Your Time

Homeownership isn’t something that anyone should jump into, whether single or taken. Take your time looking up neighborhoods, talking with mortgage lenders and meeting with real estate agents.

Don’t jump on the first place you find. Instead, search for a property that’s right for you.

Jennifer Landis
Jennifer Landis is a wife, mom, writer, and healthy living blogger. She enjoys longs walks around the block with her toddler, prefers tea over coffee, and eats way too much peanut butter. You can find more from Jennifer on her blog, http://mindfulnessmama.com or follow her on Twitter @JenniferELandis
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