Mortgage Advice

I Successfully Bought 3 Homes as a Single Female Homebuyer and You Can Too, Sister

February 23, 2018

When I was 25 years old, I decided it was time to purchase my first home. It was the early 80s, and with the popular big hair styles came big interest rates and an interesting housing market. I was single, excited, nervous and most importantly, determined. I was going to be a single female homeowner, whether the market wanted me to be or not. And I definitely was not going to wait for Prince Charming to make my dreams come true!

At the time, there weren’t very many rental homes available and landlords weren’t exactly open to the idea of renting to single women. I wasn’t going to let the social norms at the time prevent me from going after what I really wanted, which was a home of my own.

I wanted to buy a house for many reasons, one of them being that I knew I would be able to build equity that could make me money later down the road. Purchasing my first home was a commitment I was absolutely ready to make, especially after I realized renting wasn’t necessarily cheaper than a monthly mortgage payment.

I looked at about 10 homes before deciding on “the one,” and I ended up purchasing a little brick bungalow for about $65,000. While the price was low, interest rates were around 15% at the time. Can you believe that? To put that in perspective, interest rates today are just over 4%.

Although I lived in my first house for less than two years, it is still one of my favorites to this day. And selling that home enabled me to purchase and later sell two larger homes in Grosse Pointe area in the span of about eight years. For me, the satisfaction of having a place that I could call and make my own was one of my greatest accomplishments in life, and while it was pretty unconventional to buy a house before getting married and starting a family at that time, it was the perfect next step for me.

While buying a home as a single woman in the 80s wasn’t necessarily easy, it wasn’t impossible either. Today, single women make up the second largest share of homebuyers, but there are still several unique challenges we face along our pursuit for the perfect home.

Men and women are different when it comes to buying a home. Men can put up a futon in the living room with a big screen TV and call it good, while women are much more invested in making a house a home. As soon as we step into a potential living space, we start to get invested, both financially and emotionally. So aside from qualifying for a mortgage on one income, single women also face emotional challenges and are often plagued with countless questions when deciding to purchase their first home:

  • Am I ready to buy?
  • Am I going to settle down soon?
  • Can I handle the maintenance and uncertainty when it comes to owning my own home?
  • What do my friends and family have to say about this decision?
  • Can I do this alone?

If this sounds like you, take a deep breath! Yes, buying a house is a big commitment, but it’s one you’re capable of handling (with the right mindset and a support squad guiding you every step of the way).

Take some time to think about whether buying a house is something you really want. What’s your motivation for buying a house? What’s preventing you from taking the next step? Whether you’re fully committed or on the fence, it never hurts to do some research and begin gathering the information you need to make a confident and informed decision.

As a single female homebuyer myself, and a loan officer, I’m familiar with the financial and emotional challenges women face and have made it my mission to inspire and empower more women to consider the possibility of homeownership for themselves.

Wherever you’re at in the decision process, I hope the following tips help you weigh your options and consider the possibilities.

  1. Don’t wait for Prince Charming! Take it from a person who has been there, you DO NOT need a Prince Charming to make your dreams a reality! The journey to homeownership can be a scary process, but don’t let those fears get the best of you. Even if you’re signing those papers by yourself, you are not alone on your journey! Your family, friends, real estate agent and loan officer are there to help you, talk you through your worries and encourage you to take the next step in your life. I proved to myself that I could do what I wanted with or without a partner by my side, and you can do the same!
  2. Get in touch with a loan officer early on in the process. While buying a home was new to me, I was familiar with real estate values, home appreciation and interest rates as a loan officer. Because I know this decision comes with a lot of uncertainty, when I sit down with a new purchaser, I want to answer all of the burning home buying questions they have and give them hard numbers upfront so they have a better idea of what to expect down the road. At Ross Mortgage, we give first-time homebuyers the right tools they need to make a confident decision before they start looking for homes. It starts with helping homebuyers get pre-approved for a mortgage loan so they know how much house they’re able to afford and can make a competitive offer when they’re ready. If you’re not financially ready at the moment to obtain a mortgage, that’s okay too! We can help put you on a path to easily get pre-approved in the future when the time is right.
  3. Be aware of your budget. Being in the business and growing up pretty frugal, I’ve always been good with money. But I know that budgeting can be a challenge, especially when it comes to budgeting for all the potential hidden costs that come with purchasing a home. I also know that thinking of up keeping the maintenance of your home by yourself can be overwhelming, and at times, discouraging. However, I want you to know if I can do it, you can do it too! When you’re looking at potential contenders, be aware of how old the home is and how long the roof or appliances might last. And, don’t forget about property taxes! If you’re buying a fixer upper, consult with your mortgage lender about the ability to roll renovation costs into your mortgage loan. And if you’re looking for contractors to help you remodel a house, make sure you shop around and find people you can trust who will do great work for the right price.
  4. Know your options. As a single female homebuyer, you have options! While there are challenges that come with applying for a mortgage and saving for a down payment with just one income, there are many programs available that can help you in the process. You can get a conventional loan for as little as 3% down, and there are probably a few loan options you probably never even knew existed, such as MSHDA’s down payment assistance program. Do your research and talk about which mortgage type is right for you with your loan officer.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask relatives for a little extra support. When I bought my first home, I needed more money than I thought I did. While I was only short $500, it was a stressful time for me. Luckily, my parents gifted me the money I needed to close the deal. Your loved ones are there to help you and want to watch you succeed, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  6. Allow yourself to grow. I remember hyperventilating after I made my first offer on a house. I actually prayed they wouldn’t accept it because I was so nervous. What I’m trying to say is that buying a house is a big commitment, especially as a single female. It’s natural to get cold feet when you’re making the biggest financial decision of your life—which is why I always tell my pre-approved clients that I have a pair of warm socks waiting for them when they make an offer. If you’re not nervous, you’re taking it too lightly. But I also would say you shouldn’t be afraid to stretch. If you have the finances to buy a bigger house, it’s okay to do that. Don’t let your nerves stop you from going after what you really want.

Are you ready to embark on your own home buying journey? Send us a message! We’d be happy to connect you with a lending expert on our team who can help you take the next step to your version of happily ever after.