Smart Women Buy Homes

Single women are buying a home on their own.
Here’s how to make it the best decision of your life.

woman-with-house-key-chainAs a single working mom, an owner of a real estate company, I’ve worked with single women for 15 years to help them articulate our dreams and pull together an action plan for the fulfillment of those dreams.  I know the most common dream of a single woman is the strong desire to own a home. A few other common dreams are owning their own business and children to go to college.

Singles are diving into the housing market, 22% of all home purchases are singles. Unmarried women made up 20 percent of all buyers; single guys accounted for 12 percent.
Why the discrepancy between men and women? I personally think it is because the concept of home resonates so strongly with women. Regardless of our marital status, women want to come home from work to a place that feels like ours. When women look for a home, they are excited about turning a place into a home that reflects their personality and tastes. They know they can paint a bathroom any color they want and transform into their own personal sanctuary.
The three main reasons single women are buying homes in record numbers are: to relocate closer to a job or family; they need more space; and, the No. 1 reason cited, they have a strong desire, plain and simple, to nest.

I know that the biggest challenge single women face is a lack of information about how to buy a home. Single women can feel intimidated by the process and all the paperwork, and many simply give up on their dream of owning a home of their own. That’s why Premier Realtors and myself invested in other single full-time Realtors who love helping smart single woman purchase that home to accomplish dreams. Unmarried women are among the most excited and savviest. This demographic includes women from the age of 23 starting careers who plan to marry and have children, 35 who are settled in careers and want to own in a specific area so kids can attend a certain school and women who are 65 and retiring.

Obviously, location is still important. Try to buy in the best neighborhood you can afford. Take your passions and hobbies into consideration before investing. If you love the nightlife, then consider a loft downtown with restaurants and bars within walking distance. If you’re an outdoorsy type, a more suburban — or even rural — setting would put you closer to the weekend activities you love. Since many home-buying single women are also mothers, it’s important to consider a school district’s reputation and the safety of the area. Investigate neighborhoods. Visit during various hours of the day and night, and ask the neighbors (like people gardening or out walking their dogs) how safe they feel living there.  Get crime stats from the police. Don’t judge neighborhood safety on appearances. Get neighborhood crime statistics from the local police precinct.

For many solo buyers, a property’s condition is of equal importance to its location. Considering purchasing a brand-new condo or house and enjoy that you may not need to call a repairman for years. Older homes in the woods may sound charming but can be money pits. And don’t be afraid to poke around at the foundation, especially when you’re buying an older home. Spending a few dollars on a professional inspector can save heartache down the line.

Where the rule of thumb used to be buy the most expensive house you can so that you can realize more of a return, nowadays you should carefully consider your monthly mortgage payment. Experts say it should not exceed 28 percent of your pre-tax monthly income. And stop thinking of a house as an investment and just think of it as a home (and perhaps also a tax write-off). Review your budget and housing options. Set your sights on something that won’t break your monthly budget. Once you build some equity, you can move up. Research monthly costs and hidden costs. When crunching the numbers, remember to factor in homeowners’ insurance, property taxes, utilities and home maintenance. Also nose around for any hidden future costs, like upcoming major repairs (such as a cracked foundation) or increases in community association dues (in a condo complex or other planned community)

Consider Your future 
Single women are buying houses at all different stages of their lives. Some are just starting out and still plan to get married and have kids someday. Before you buy a house, think about what you want your future to look like. If kids are a big hope, buying a studio condo could be a mistake. Likewise, you might not want to rattle around a four-bedroom place if you’re solo. Also, listen to your body. Smart women know that they should find a place with minimal stairs if they plan to grow old there.

Might this home become a rental?
Some single buyers — especially younger ones — might not have the most stable lives. Perhaps their employers might transfer them to another city for a year, or they might fall in love and want to move. For that reason, when you buy a home, try to envision its potential attractiveness as a rental. Is it close to stores, restaurants and other ammenities? What are the rent prices in that area, and would your mortgage payment be equivalent?

How much upkeep will you want to do?
If you’re an avid gardener, having a yard with roses and hedges might seem like a dream. But if you’re brown-thumbed like me, a condo might be the perfect answer. And if you have to have that lawn to be happy, but lack the time to mow it, I recommend that you factor in the cost of mowing before you sign on the dotted line.

Take it slow
If you watch shows like “House Hunters,” you might believe that buyers spend about 20 minutes in a house before writing that huge check. Experts advise that you take it slow. See many different kinds of homes before making a huge, life-changing decision. Even if you don’t think you’d be interested in a condo, you might see one that turns out to be perfect for you.