Single Ladies' Guide to Buying Your First Home
If you're a single woman thinking about buying a house, you're not alone. Single women are making up a bigger percentage of first-time home buyers than ever before, 17% of first-time homebuyers in 2016, and that's great news! Why? Buying a home is a great way to build wealth and a smart decision for women because when it comes to financial planning, women typically need to plan slightly differently than their male counterparts. If you're ready to take the plunge here's what you need to consider.
Find the right location for your first home
You've heard how important the right location is to real estate (we know we've said it a million times!) and there's a lot to consider to find the perfect one:
Proximity to your job
There's definitely a sweet spot when it comes to your home's distance from work. You don't want to spend hours commuting every week, but you also don't want to live so close that you can see your office outside your bedroom window (hello, stress dreams about your next big meeting). Sit down and think about how long you're willing to commute to and from work each day and figure out the radius that fits your needs. Don't forget to think about any tradeoffs that come with a longer commute. For example, you might be able to get more house for the same price if you're farther away from the city center, but you might also be farther away from the restaurants, bars, and nightlife that you frequent in your spare time.
Proximity to family/friends
It's not just work that you have to think about either. Let's say you choose to be 15 minutes from your office. Yay, for easy commutes and late wake-up times! But if you split your free-time between your best friend's couch and your mom's kitchen table, both of whom live 45 away, you might end up regretting your decision--or turning into a hermit. Try to find a balance between what you do in your free time and your office.
Chances are you buying this house as an investment in your future. So it makes sense to try to find an up-and-coming neighborhood where you can buy your house inexpensively and make a profit when you sell it. Make sure your real estate agent knows your financial goals for your home, what you're willing to spend, and what kind of sweat equity you might be willing to put into the home.
Set your budget
Figure out what you can reasonably afford each month and what that means for how much you can spend on a home. Remember there are hidden costs associated with being a homeowner. If the pipes burst, the front door jams, or the carpet needs to be replaced it's your responsibility now.
Living alone can be lots of fun. You don't have to worry about someone else's dirty dishes in the sink or think about your roommate's sleep schedule when you want to play Pandora at full volume at 7:30 on Saturday morning. But it also means you don't have anyone who's always looking out for you either. Make sure your potential new home is somewhere you feel comfortable coming home late at night or leaving early in the morning. You can get crime statistics for your neighborhood online and don't forget to ask a potential new neighbor how safe they think the neighborhood is.
Just because you're a homeowner now doesn't mean you can't have roommates. You can put the income from leasing the spare bedroom towards your monthly mortgage payment, or use it to fund a personal project or two. It's also a great option if you're more of a homebody--someone who wants to be around other people, but doesn't want to go out every night. Just remember, having roommates means you're the landlord now. You'll be responsible when something in the house goes wrong and you'll also have to handle any uncomfortable conversations about late rent or anything else that might go wrong.
Consider a fixer upper (or not)
Fixer-uppers can be a great way to save money on your mortgage and put in some sweat equity. If you get a great deal of joy and satisfaction from doing projects around the house, this might be the route for you. Buying a fixer-upper might also impact your ability to have roommates (if you choose to go that route) since you can't exactly ask people to pay to live in a construction zone.
Are you ready to get out there and become a homeowner? Check out our first-time home buyer learning center to get all the information you need.