Tips For Buying A Home As A Single Parent
Buying a home, in general, can be challenging at times. If you’re a single parent buying a home, it can potentially add another hurdle that must be overcome.
As a single parent you do not have the luxury of having dual incomes which means your household income is lower than it is for most families with dual incomes. If this is your circumstance, this can potentially make it more challenging to qualify for a mortgage which ultimately can impact your ability to purchase a home.
With this being said, it’s important to always keep in mind some of the great benefits of owning a home as a single parent. Owning a home as a single parent provides self accomplishment, the opportunity to build equity, and also a home to raise your children in which maybe the greatest benefit of all!
So if you’re looking to buy a home as a single parent, read on to find out some of the best tips for buying a home as a single parent. If you follow the tips below, you’ll have a strong understanding what steps you should take and also what you should expect throughout the process when buying a home as a single parent.
Determine Whether Home Ownership Makes Sense As A Single Parent
The most important decision that should be made when buying a home as a single parent is whether or not home ownership makes sense for you or not. Owning a home is not for everyone and that is important to remember. Many single parents who are renting need to consider whether they should continue to rent or buy a home.
As a single parent, one of the most important considerations to make when determining whether home ownership makes sense is whether or not you want the responsibility of owning a home. As a homeowner you’re responsible for tasks such as home maintenance and repairs. This is much different than renting an apartment or a home since the landlord is generally responsible for these tasks.
For example, if you’re purchasing a home in an area that experiences cold and snowy winters, you’ll be responsible for winterizing your home. This will include tasks such as snow removal, tending to your landscaping, and cleaning your gutters.
Another consideration to make when deciding whether owning a home makes sense or not as a single parent is the cost of renting versus buying. There are many reasons why real estate markets are different and one of the biggest reasons is the home values in an area. Depending on where you’re located, buying a home may not be feasible because of the home values in your area while renting may still be affordable. It’s also possible that the opposite is true and that home values are more affordable than monthly rent. Before you decide to buy a home as a single parent, you need to understand your local real estate market.
Getting Pre-Approved For A Mortgage As A Single Parent
Now that you’ve determined that buying a home as a single parent makes sense, the next step (and one of the most important) is to get pre-approved for a mortgage. It’s critical that you understand the difference between a mortgage pre-approval and a pre-qualification. When buying a home, it’s smart to get pre-approved for a mortgage, not pre-qualified because it will make a big difference when negotiating with a seller. It’s possible that some sellers will not accept an offer because a buyer only is pre-qualified and hasn’t went through the process of getting pre-approved.
There are many different types of mortgage products available for home buyers. Many buyers, not only single parents, wonder which type of mortgage is best for them. There are 30 year fixed mortgages, 15 year fixed mortgages, adjustable rate mortgages, and many other types, so getting pre-approved is the way to understand which is best for your situation.
Similar to first time home buyer grants, as a single parent, you may also be eligible for grants and other special loans. For example, in New York State, the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York offers the first home club. This is a matched savings program that allows a first time buyer or single parent, to receive up to $7,500 to be used towards a down payment and other closing expenses.
While the first home club is designed for single parents buying a home in New York, there are programs similar to this in other areas. If you’re curious if your area offers grants and assistance for single parents, consulting with a top local real estate agent is a smart idea to find out what is available in your area.
Hire A Real Estate Agent
It’s highly recommended when buying a home, as a single parent or not, that you hire a real estate agent to represent your best interests. Since there are many steps in the home buying process, having an experienced buyers agent can make the process seem much less stressful.
As you’re getting ready to purchase a home as a single parent, it’s recommended that you know how to interview prospective real estate agents. Understanding what questions to ask real estate agents when buying a home is extremely important. Not asking the right questions can lead to a very frustrating home buying experience.
Some of the best questions to ask real estate agents when buying a home as a single parent include;
- What is your availability for showing houses?
- What methods of communications do you use with buyers?
- How many homes, on average, do you sell a year when representing buyers?
These are just a few of the most important questions to ask while interviewing prospective real estate agents. As a single parent your schedule can get hectic at times and it’s critical that your agent is available when it’s convenient for you.
Determine Housing Priorities As A Single Parent
With the guidance of an experienced real estate agent, it’s now important to determine what your housing priorities are. One of the most effective ways to determining your housing priorities as a single parent is figuring out what your needs and what your wants are in a home. Not only do you need to keep in mind what your own needs and wants are, but you also need to keep in mind your children’s needs and wants.
Some of the major things you should be thinking about while you’re figuring out your housing priorities as a single parent include;
- Amount of space for you and your children (Square footage)
- Number of bedrooms
- Number of bathrooms
- Amount of acreage
- Layout/Style of homes
- School District
As you are determining what is important to you and your children, it’s a good idea to create a checklist. A checklist is an effective way to make sure as you are viewing homes that your needs are being met. For example, if you realize after buying a home that the yard is not big enough for your children because you didn’t keep that in mind as you were shopping for homes, you may experience home buyers remorse.
Include Your Children
As you go through the home buying process as a single parent, it’s a good idea to make sure your children feel included. It’s no different than when selling a home with children! Including your children throughout the process will help eliminate potential problems in the future.
This doesn’t mean you have to bring your children every time you look at a home, however, before you make a final decision on a home it’s a good idea to show your children their potential new home. Change can be difficult for kids, so if they’re excited about their potential new home, this can be very helpful.
Keep All Costs & Expenses In Mind
One common mistake that many home buyers make is not keeping all costs and expenses in mind. There are costs to buying a home and also costs to owning a home. It’s extra important when buying a home as a single parent that you keep all of these costs and expenses in mind.
The last thing you want to have happen after buying a home as a single parent is you realize you may struggle to afford the expenses of owning a home. Expenses such as utilities, refuse, and maintenance are just a few that are often forgotten.
As you begin the process of buying a home, you need to consider all of the costs and expenses that may apply, both short term and long term. If you move into a home and the HVAC systems stop working, can you afford to replace the furnace? Certainly no one likes to think about these type of things, but the possibility exists and knowing you can afford a major expense like replacing a furnace can go a long way with improving peace of mind.
For an expert opinion, I reached out to Massachusetts Real Estate Professional, Bill Gassett, who has been selling homes for the last twenty nine years. Bill mentioned a few good pointers for single parents buying a home.
“Kyle thanks for the opportunity to share my real estate expertise. One of the first things a single parent should consider is the type of housing that best fits their life circumstances. For example when couples are married and have children having a marital home to spread out in probably makes quite a bit of sense. As a single parent however this might not be the case. If you are a spouse that travels quite a bit for work or even has long hours, thinking about home maintenance while attending to children may be the last thing on your mind. In this case purchasing a townhome may be a wise move.
Location may be another worthwhile consideration as well. Maybe a small town in the suburbs while you were married made perfect sense. Maybe not so much now that you are single again and looking for a new companion? Could living in the city be a better choice for your life circumstances? This is something you really need to think about when circumstances change.”
Buying a home as a single parent can certainly be difficult, but it’s not impossible. It’s very important when buying a home as a single parent that you have a strong understanding of what to expect. Owning a home as a single parent is a great opportunity to provide stability for your children and in most cases, is beneficial.
Other Home Buying Resources
- What Impact Do Student Loans Have On Buying a Home?
- Grants for Single Mothers to Buy a House via LIVESTRONG
- The Single Mothers Guide To Buying A House via Tim Lucas
Are you a single parent in Rochester, NY looking to purchase a home? If so, the above information and tips should give you a solid understanding of the process. If you don’t have a Rochester NY real estate agent yet, contact me. I’d love to sit down and discuss the home buying process in detail!
About the authors: The above article “How To Buy A Home As A Single Parent” was provided by the Keith Hiscock Sold Team (Keith & Kyle Hiscock). With over 30 years combined experience, if you’re thinking of selling or buying, we’d love to share our knowledge and expertise.
We service the following Greater Rochester NY areas: Irondequoit, Webster, Penfield, Pittsford, Fairport, Brighton, Greece, Gates, Hilton, Brockport, Mendon, Henrietta, Perinton, Churchville, Scottsville, East Rochester, Rush, Honeoye Falls, Chili, and Victor NY.
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