The quintessential “American Dream” includes the stereotypical married couple buying the perfect suburban home. As charming as that image might be, you don’t have to say “I do” to buy a house. If you’re single, there are a lot of ways to achieve your dream of owning a house without breaking the bank.
When it comes to owning a home as a single person, you’re not alone. In 2017, according to the National Association of Realtors, 18% of first-time buyers are single women while 8% are single men. You’re in good company, so don’t think it’s not possible to buy a house when you’re not married. Here are the best tips for single homebuyers today.
1. Know What You Can Afford
This is a great rule of thumb for any homebuyer, but it’s especially important for single homebuyers. The last thing you want to do is sign yourself into a contract you can’t afford. Be realistic with your home buying budget. Know the financial commitments of the location you choose, whether you have a monthly HOA fee or other expenses to consider.
Is buying a home a smart investment for you at this stage in your life? Remember, there’s more to think about than just the mortgage. You also have to consider property taxes, insurance, closing costs, etc. That can add up quick. Don’t opt for a home at the top of your budget just because you think you can afford it at the moment.
2. Compare Renting Vs. Buying
Sometimes it’s cheaper to rent. This all depends on your location, but don’t get caught falling like you have to buy a house because you’ve reached a certain stage in your life. It’s great to have a property you can call your own, but that property also comes with long-term financial obligations.
Use a platform like Realtor.com to compare the cost of renting vs. buying in your local area. You’ll also need to consider the unexpected costs that come with buying. For instance, if your stove breaks in your rented home, your landlord will likely be responsible for repairs. If you’re the homeowner, that responsibility falls on you.
3. Think About the Future
Where do you expect to be in the next few years? Sure, you might be single now, but what about in a few years? That one-bedroom condo in the city makes a great single home, but do you have enough space to grow a family? While you don’t need to commit to your property forever, you should be prepared to live in it for the next 3-5 years to earn back your investment. Make sure this space will grow with you.
4. Build Your Savings
When you’re sharing your home with someone else, you have two incomes to count on. If things go south like if one of you loses your job unexpectedly, there’s still money coming in. However, if it’s just you, you’ll need to have a way to support yourself if something unexpected occurs. It’s a good idea to have an emergency fund prepared with several months of expenses just in case you run into financial trouble.
5. Be Openminded
If you’re single, you don’t usually have the extra funds for all the fancy upgrades. At least, not at first. Be openminded about the space you’re looking to buy. You can always make upgrades later on to personalize the space. For now, look at the potential and the things you can’t change. Do you like the layout? Is this a location you can see yourself living? Everything else is flexible.
6. Consider an FHA Mortage
One of the biggest challenges for single buyers is the downpayment. In addition, you’ll have to rely on your own credit history and debt-to-income ratio when getting a mortgage. Many people let this scare them from buying a home.
With FHA mortgages, it’s much easier to overcome the usual financial challenges of owning a home. These mortgages lower the hurdle for single people trying to buy a home by requiring a lower downpayment and also providing state and local assistance programs for those who qualify.
7. Think Maintenance
Whether you’re a DIY pro or a home maintenance newbie, you need to make sure you’re comfortable in your space. Since you’ll be living their alone, you’ll be solely responsible for the repairs. While you can always pay someone for the bigger fixes, this is an additional expense.
If you’re not comfortable with big home maintenance projects, consider a newer home which is likely to have fewer problems. Luckily, there are a lot of DIY tips and tricks you can find on the web to make even complicated projects easier to manage for single homeowners.
Owning a home as a single person isn’t just possible, but it also might be more affordable in this day and age. Thanks to rising rent costs across the country, many people are making a move to buy a house for the first time. With women leading the way in this movement, it’s not expected to slow down any time soon.
Before you take the plunge, read through the tips above so you can make a smart decision. While home ownership might not be right for everyone, it’s a great choice for many, even if you’re unmarried.