Buying A House As A Single Woman: A How-To Guide
February 16, 2023 6-minute read
Author: Sarah Sharkey
Buying a house as a single woman is an exciting prospect. But there are some unique challenges to consider when buying a house on your own. Let’s explore what you need to know when buying a house as a single woman.
Home Buying Trends For Single Women
If this financial goal has been on your mind, you aren’t alone.
According to the National Association of REALTOR’s® housing trends report, single women made up 22% of home buyers in 2020. That’s significantly higher than single males, who made up 9% of home buyers in 2020.
Single female homeownership isn’t a new trend. A study showed that single women have outpaced single males in homeownership as far back as 1985. But more and more women have taken the plunge into homeownership in the past couple of decades.
A couple factors contributing to the rise of single female homeownership include more educational and workforce opportunities for women.
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How To Buy A House As A Single Woman
If you are a single woman buying a home, you will need to tackle the steps to homeownership on your own. With a single income, it can be a bit more challenging to save for a down payment and build credit. But it’s absolutely possible.
Here’s a closer look at how to do it.
Build Your Credit
Whether you’re applying for a mortgage as a single person or as a couple, a good credit score is essential. For example, most lenders require a credit score of at least 620 for conventional mortgages.
As you gear up to buy a home, it’s important to make sure your credit score is in a good place. If it’s not, now is the time to build credit. A few ways to build credit include consistently making on-time bill payments and paying down credit card debt. Additionally, try to avoid taking on new lines of credit as you work to qualify for a home loan.
Save For A Down Payment
You likely know that you need to save up for a down payment when qualifying for a mortgage with a single income. But how much should you save?
Although 20% used to be the standard, that’s no longer the case. You can obtain a home loan with as little as 3% for a conventional loan or 3.5% down for an FHA loan. If you are a veteran, you might not have to put anything down if you choose the VA loan.
Take some time to explore your loan options. If possible, try to make more than the minimum down payment because it will lead to a lower mortgage payment.
With your target in mind, it’s time to get creative to build your down payment fund. Consider setting up an automatic transfer of funds from your paycheck to a dedicated savings account. Other ways to save include cutting back on discretionary purchases and picking up extra income through a side hustle.
Set Your Budget
Sticking to a budget throughout your home search is essential. Otherwise, you could get stuck in a home that doesn’t leave any wiggle room in your budget.
Although it’s tempting to look at homes before setting a budget, it’s critical to determine how much house you can afford. According to the 29/41 rule of thumb, you shouldn’t spend more than 29% of your gross monthly income on your housing costs. Don’t forget that housing costs include more than your mortgage payment. You’ll also be responsible for real estate taxes, homeowners insurance, and homeowners association fees.
Additionally, it’s best to keep your total monthly debt costs under 41% of your monthly gross income. You can use the Rocket Mortgage® free home affordability calculator to run the numbers for your unique situation.
Depending on your income, you might find a smaller home price budget than you anticipated. That means it’s time to get creative on your housing search. Whittle down your house shopping list to eliminate wants and prioritize needs.
Get Preapproved For A Mortgage
Before you tour any homes, it’s important to get preapproved for a mortgage.
By taking this step, you prove to real estate agents and sellers that you are serious about any offers you make. Plus, it gives you the edge to move quickly when you find the right property.
Take the first step toward buying a house.
Get approved to see what you qualify for.
Considerations For Buying A House As A Single Woman
Everything we’ve covered so far applies to all home shoppers. But let’s explore a few extra things you should consider when buying a home as a single woman.
Every home shopper should consider their personal safety. But as a single woman, it’s critically important to prioritize a safe environment. Every woman has her own comfort level. And you should keep yours in mind when shopping around.
A few factors include neighborhood crime rates, home security systems, building safety features, and the lighting around your home. If you aren’t sure about something, drive around the property at different hours of the day to get a better feel.
The home you buy now should match up with your current lifestyle. First off, you’ll need to decide which area you want to live in. For example, do you want to live in the middle of a city or push out to a rural area?
Also, think about how the home should fit into your schedule. Do you want a turnkey property or a fixer-upper? Are you looking for a starter home or a forever home that you never have to leave? Do you have the time or money in your budget to support a big yard?
Future Life Changes
A home is a long-term financial commitment. So, you have to think beyond your current lifestyle and consider your future plans.
Here are some questions to ask yourself before house hunting:
- Do you want to get married? A future marriage could impact your homeownership plans. As a large asset, you want to make sure that your interests are protected.
- Do you want to have children? Kids change the priorities of a household. If you see children in your future, then make sure there are enough bedrooms. Also, keep the school district in mind when house hunting.
- Will you want to get roommates? A roommate can help you cover the costs that come with homeownership. But it's important to find a setup that works for you and your future roommates.
- Is there potential to rent your space? The option to rent your space gives you more financial flexibility. Consider multifamily homes and the short-term rental laws in your area if you’re interested in renting in the future.
Pros And Cons For Single Women Homeowners
As with all financial decisions, there are some advantages and disadvantages to buying a home as a single woman. Here’s what you should keep in mind.
- Building equity: Building equity as a single homeowner allows you to grow your net worth through a real estate asset.
- Financial security: Homeownership can be a stabilizing factor in your finances. For example, most loans come with a fixed monthly payment. With that, homeowners don’t have to worry about a rent increase. Plus, your monthly housing payment goes toward owning a long-term investment.
- Privacy: Beyond the financial perks, homeowners often enjoy an increased level of privacy. If you are tired of hearing your upstairs neighbor, homeownership can give you a reprieve.
- Independence: As a homeowner, there are no landlords to answer to. Instead, you have full control over your space. With that, you have the final say over all repairs, furniture, and decorations.
- Difficult to qualify for a loan: A single income can make it more challenging to qualify for a mortgage.
- Financial commitment: When you take out a mortgage, that’s a long-term financial commitment. In many cases, you’ll be tied to the mortgage for at least 15 or 30 years. Even after the mortgage is paid off, you’ll still have expenses associated with the home, such as property taxes and homeowner’s insurance.
- More responsibility: As a homeowner, you can’t call the landlord if something goes wrong. Instead, you’ll be on the hook for keeping up with house maintenance and repairs. Or at least paying for a qualified professional to handle it for you.
- Less flexibility: Homeownership comes with less flexibility than renting. It can be more difficult to travel, take a new job in a different area or move in general. If you aren’t ready to commit to a particular area, then homeownership might not be the right move.
The Bottom Line
As a single woman, homeownership can be a financial game changer. It’s a great way to stabilize your finances and bring more control to your living situation. Although it’s not the right move for everyone, it could be the right move for you.
If you are ready to move forward with homeownership, then review our home buying checklist for first-time home buyers.
Get approved to see what you can afford.
Rocket Mortgage® lets you do it all online.
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