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Today, more single women than ever before are becoming proud homeowners. Unfortunately, home-buying is more difficult on a single salary, especially if you have kids or other important financial responsibilities. Jumping into such a big investment alone is bound to be stressful. The best thing you can do is plan ahead and be well-prepared.
There are countless reasons to buy a house, from the thrill of owning property to being able to do what you want with your space without having to answer to a landlord. If you’re looking into purchasing a house, here are some steps you need to follow.
Prepare Your Finances for a Mortgage
When lenders are considering your mortgage application, they will take a close look at your debt-to-income ratio. This tells them whether you’ll be able to comfortably handle more debt. Before applying for a mortgage, try to lower your debt by paying off loans and credit cards. Or, consolidate your debt into a lower-interest loan to reduce monthly payments. You should also avoid applying for new lines of credit at least six months before you apply for a mortgage.
If you’re looking for investment properties, consider using hard money loans rather than a conventional mortgage. Hard money lenders will loan you money backed by the property you’re purchasing. This is a quicker way to get a loan since the lenders aren’t interested in your credit score or debt but in the property’s value. You can even avoid paying a down payment this way, allowing you to purchase property with very little money of your own.
Don’t Forget About Additional Expenses
When looking at the price of a house, don’t forget to factor in all of the additional fees and charges you will encounter. Property taxes and home insurance are often overlooked by excited homebuyers. Home insurance typically costs about $100 per month, but it can be much more in a region that’s at risk for natural disasters. Other fees to be prepared for include inspections, closing costs, real estate agent fees, and homeowner association fees.
Know Your Cheaper Options
It’s harder to afford a home on a single salary, so there’s no shame in looking for cheaper options. You can find cheaper homes about half an hour outside of the city if you don’t mind a bit of a commute into town. Don’t be afraid of fixer-uppers either. Just ensure that the home only requires cosmetic fixes, or you’ll end up putting tens of thousands into extensive repairs.
Buying a foreclosed home is a great option for someone on a budget, but the process is a bit lengthier and more involved. According to Bank rate, start by getting a pre-approval letter from a money lender. The really good deals go quickly, and you want to be ready to snatch one up! You can find foreclosed homes by searching bank websites, visiting your county’s office, or working with a real estate agent who knows about local properties nearing foreclosure.
Explore the Area
As a woman living alone, you want to ensure you feel safe in your new neighborhood both day and at night. Homes.com recommends using an online crime mapping service and checking the database of convicted sex offenders. Take a drive around your neighborhood and note the number of homes for sale. An unusually large number may indicate a rising crime rate in the neighborhood. Keep an eye out for broken windows, run-down houses, and overgrown yards as well. An excess of poorly maintained homes can indicate an unsafe neighborhood.
Get Prepared for Moving Day
Before moving, make a checklist of everything you need to do. This should include switching over your utilities and updating your address with the post office, your bank, and government services. Start packing well before moving day and be sure to schedule the time to clean your place properly before leaving. On moving day, get the help of friends and family or hire professional movers. If you’re hiring help, get quotes from various moving companies and compare their offers. It won’t hurt to pick a mover who is certified by the American Moving and Storage Association so you can avoid potential scams.
Home buying is a long and stressful process that ends up being a huge milestone for those who tackle it. When you accomplish it on your own, you have even more to be proud of. Take a moment to relax and enjoy your accomplishment. You’ve earned it!
Article by Gloria Martinez
Gloria Martinez started Women Led to celebrate the advancements women have made and inspire women to become entrepreneurs and seek promotions in the workplace.