Be a smart and savvy buyer to land the home of your dreams.
The home-buying experience often portrayed in advertising generally seems to focus on couples and families. But these days, only 40 percent of first-time home buyers are married, down from 52 percent in the late ’80s, according to Zillow research.
The process of purchasing a home for a sole owner may be fairly similar to that of anyone else, but there are a few slight differences in how a single buyer might approach the home-buying experience.
Here are five ways to make your solo house hunt a success.
Find your agent
Don’t choose the first real estate agent you find in an online search. Try posting a query on social media to get insights from your friends and family, and search for agents in your area, taking plenty of time to read reviews. Look for positive agent reviews that may comment on purchasing alone versus as a couple.
Once you find a few agent options, meet with each of them. You’ll want to ask plenty of questions — don’t let them do all the talking.
Read up on your resources
So you’ve met with multiple agents and found the one for you. Great! But having a wonderful real estate agent doesn’t mean you don’t need to read up on your own.
Don’t rely on your agent to explain every detail of the process. They probably will, and should, but it’s your job to be an informed buyer. Head to the library or check out online resources to find out your rights as a buyer and learn about home-buying programs.
When you’re deciding how much home you can afford, consider all recurring expenses that come with owning a home. Think beyond mortgage payments and closing costs — include expenses such as home maintenance and repairs.
And if you’re nervous about being turned down for a loan because you’re buying on your own, try not to be. While qualifying for a loan on one income may mean you purchase a smaller home, it doesn’t mean you can’t buy. In fact, banks are not allowed to discriminate against potential home buyers based on marital status.
Singles buying a home on one income should consider an FHA loan, as borrowers with good credit can qualify for a small down payment.
Choose the right home type for you
Are you looking for something to grow into? Or do you want a small starter home you can rent out in the future? Whatever your current and future home needs are, know that you have options regarding the type of home you purchase.
Buying a condo or townhouse may leave you with a lower mortgage, but don’t forget about possible homeowners association dues and storage fees. And while a smaller place means less to maintain for one person, regular maintenance is still a homeowner must.
House hunt with confidence
Pursuing homeownership on your own doesn’t mean you have to decide everything solo. Bring one or two of your close friends who have recently purchased a home and who you know can offer honest feedback.
If you plan to move to the suburbs to get more house for your buck, consider if you’d really be happy living away from your favorite downtown spots. Try commuting to and from your potential home from work, your friends’ homes, and your favorite shops and restaurants. If you discover it’s a tad too far for comfort, narrow your home search.
Once you find a few neighborhoods you love, look at the crime data. There are plenty of online tools that can help you check the safety of a neighborhood. And as you scope out houses and communities, take note of enclosed backyards and security gates. Because there may not be someone home during hours you’re typically away, you’ll want to be mindful of security precautions during your house hunt.
Make an informed offer
If you’re buying as a singleton, you may not have someone by your side to help you figure out what to offer or how to negotiate. This is where finding the best real estate agent for you will serve you well. Talk to your agent about how your offer may stack up against recent sales in the area, as well as the possible concessions you can get from the sellers.
Whether you’ve just started considering purchasing your first home or you’re newly single and buying on your own for the first time, these five steps will ensure you’re a smart and savvy solo buyer, and help you land a home of your own.
Posted by Sarah Pike on Zillow