Believe it or not, in the list of requirements to buy a home you will never see the words “spouse” or “significant other” in the ranks.
To all my single ladies, or fellows, that’s great news, right?
So if you’re living the single life and ready to starting putting those rent payments toward a better investment — like a new home — why not start today?
To help you begin, we’ve asked homebuying professionals to share their best advice for singles looking to buy a home. Without further ado, here are our five homebuying tips for the single buyer.
1. Determine Your Long-Term Goals of Homeownership
The first step is to decide why you want a new home.
Are you looking for a place to raise a family in the future or are you just tired of a rent payment that’s not going toward something more concrete?
“This may not be your forever home, so there’s no need to shop as if it is,” says Chantay Bridges, senior real estate specialist with TruLine Realty in Beverly Hills, Calif. “Take your current status into strong consideration — buy what you can afford and what you need for this season.”
If your long-term goal is to start investing, a new home could be a great option for you, but if you have no long-term goals and perhaps plan on traveling or moving around, then now might not be the best time to spring for a new home.
“When I purchased my first house at the age of 20, I decided to buy something I could grow into in the event that I started a family a few years down the road,” says Brandon Ramirez, who bought his home as a single individual in Austin, Texas.
He ended up finding a three-bedroom, two-bath home with an office that perfectly suited his future needs — five years later, he is no longer a single bachelor.
2. Determine If Your Lifestyle Suits Homeownership
If you have decided that you’re ready to make the investment, the next step is to take a look at your lifestyle.
“When I get a single buyer, I always spend at least an hour to discuss the lifestyle they enjoy,” says Jerry Koller, a broker with International Home Realty in Irvine, Calif. “The reason is that the home they purchase will vary greatly based on current and near-future goals.”
For instance, some lenders may allow a buyer to use 40 percent to 60 percent of their income for housing expenses, which could be a bad idea for buyers looking in the high-end who still plan on traveling and having an active social life, says Koller.
“The home should not make you house poor,” he adds.
On the other hand, if you foresee a family in the near future like Ramirez, now could be the right time to start planning for a home that’s a little larger and allowing for a bigger budget.
3. Talk With a Trusted Advisor and Lender
Once you start thinking about your budget, it’s time to speak with a trusted advisor and then a lender.
“Take a good look at your financial condition,” says Bridges. “Know what you owe, what you can pay off early and what expenditures you can predict may come up in the future.”
An unbiased advisor can aid you in sorting through your finances and options to help you make a balanced decision.
Then it’s time to take your financial information to a lender, who can help you determine how much you can really afford and walk you through special programs designed for first-time buyers and even for singles, in addition to gaining preapproval.
“There are over 300 programs available to help homebuyers,” says Koller, noting programs specific to communities and specifically for teachers, police officers, firefighters, members of the military and many others.
Ramirez navigated the homebuying process through a Realtor with the Ben Kinney Real Estate Team in Austin. “I actually did not know much about lenders at that time, but my Realtor was extremely helpful in terms of making sure that I had all the applicable paperwork and information,” he says.
4. Determine Your Wants and Needs in a Home
Then it’s time for the fun part: sifting through your options and deciding what kind of home is best for you.
“Make a list of the home features that are important — size, bedrooms, bathrooms, location and property taxes are all things that the homebuyer should consider,” says Justin Meyer, an attorney with Meyer and Associates in Hauppague, N.Y.
As a single buyer, do you really need a big home with several rooms? While you might not have kids now, do you want to consider the quality of the school district your prospective home is located in? It’s important to ask yourself as many questions as possible.
“Single individuals should be aware of the neighborhood that they are buying into,” says Meyer. “If there are a lot of kids, will it be somewhere that they are happy? Is it near activities and nightlife? Single individuals in particular need to make sure that they will be comfortable where they are.”
Once you think you have all your questions answered, write them down.
“If you have a physical list and you communicate your desires with your Realtor, you won’t waste time looking at homes that are not meeting your needs,” adds Koller.
5. Pull the Trigger with Confidence
Finally, it’s time to take that list and start touring homes and communities. Compare and contrast your list with the new homes you visit. If you don’t necessarily have to settle for one, then don’t.
If all else fails, just wait till a home finally speaks to you. From the moment you pull up to the curb, picture your new life there.
“The moment you walk in, it feels like home,” says Bridges. “There’s just something special about it that you know that you know.”
And when you know that you know that you know, then we know it’s time to make it yours.
“Pull the trigger with confidence,” says Koller. “Buying a home is exciting and can be a very satisfying life event. Be sure you are ready for the commitment.”
So there you have it, there’s no reason to be afraid of buying a home as a single buyer. In reality, it might actually be a simpler feat like it was for Ramirez.
“When I purchased my first home, I was single and the lone decision maker,” says Ramirez. “It was easy to find a home and then make the purchase after I found the right home.”