buying a house as a single woman

6 Things to Do When Buying a House as a Single Woman

Buying a house as a single woman is a pretty radical and awesome thing to do. I mean, women couldn’t take out a mortgage without a male co-signer until 1974- just 48 years ago!

Today women are staying single for longer and buying houses before marriage more often. From 1990 to 2019, the share of households headed by single women increased from 17.6% to 22.6%.

But women are still facing major hurdles when it comes to property ownership. The median income of households headed by women is nearly $20,000 lower than those headed by men. And it’s barely moving; in the last 29 years, this gap has decreased by less than $1,000.

And since the housing market has gone absolutely bonkers since COVID-19, and buying a house is getting harder to do, it’s critical to have a plan to compete! So ladies, let’s get in-house buying formation.

buying a house as a single woman

1. Organize Your Savings + Credit

You’re going to need at least some cash on hand to get a house in today’s market. That means organizing your savings and creating a cash flow strategy now.

Open a high-yield savings account separate from all your other accounts and nickname it “Down Payment.” Put any cash you currently have saved for a house here, and direct all future savings into this.

Qualifying for a mortgage on a single income is a challenge. The higher your credit score, the easier it will be. So use these tips here to boost your credit score as high as it will go.

  • Never miss a payment
  • Try to use 30% or less of available credit
  • Get a credit line increase but continue to use the same amount; you’ll look better to lenders!

2. Learn the Entire House Buying Process

I found taking a homebuying course to be helpful for my own real estate journey. Buying a house is a fairly complicated process and there are a lot of moving pieces.

There’s the mortgage lender, the real estate agent, the title company, the sellers, and the seller’s agent; like I haven’t seen so many people involved in one thing since Covid started!

I was intimidated by buying a house as a single woman for a long time. I still kind of am, to be honest! It’s a huge purchase and a big life change for me. Taking HomeSchool, a course created by women real estate agents who have been through the process as agents and as homebuyers themselves, really made me feel more secure.

The course helped me outline what to look for in a home, how to understand mortgage terms and language, and how I can pitch myself as the best offer on a home. It’s just a one-stop shop to fully understand the process and learn from pros.

3. Research All House Costs

Nothing annoys me more than people who try and make it seem like all you need is a down payment and a dream to buy a house. There are other costs involved! Costs like earnest money, inspection fees, and appraisal fees.

Learn what the fees are in your desired home area. Different states and cities have different laws around what you need to buy a home.

Start with your city’s website or talk to people who have bought in that area before. Neighborhood Facebook groups are a great resource for this!

Plug these costs into your savings plan in your budget to make sure you have enough money for them. All of these costs are also covered in HomeSchool, along with tips to afford them

4. Craft an Amazing Offer

Your offer is the most important part of finding success in a hot housing market. What you bring to the table is what the seller has to decide if you’re the one for their house.

Of course, in a hot market, the more money you can put down, the more likely you are to be chosen. But what else can you do? (There’s a whole chapter about this in HomeSchool with tons of great strategies!)

Think of it this way: what would you want as a seller? A quicker closing timeline? A longer move-out date? Waiving some of the closing costs?

Spend a lot of time creating the most perfect offer you can and you’ll stand out the most.

5. Research First-Time Home Buyer Programs

Many cities and states offer first-time home buyer programs, generally for lower-income families. Single home buyers also often qualify. Here in Texas there are several. And if your state wants to give you money, or help you get a house way cheaper, then we’ll take it!

Google “first-time home buyer programs + your state” to see what you qualify for. Buying a house as a single woman is no easy task, so take any help that you qualify for.

6. Make Smart Offers

In hot markets, you might be tempted to put in offers on any house that’s available. Avoid this temptation! Putting in offers on houses you don’t really want, or that don’t fit your budget is just a waste of everyone’s time.

Instead, make smart offers by knowing exactly what you need from a house, and what you are willing to put into the house when you own it.

For example, you might not be able to compromise on the number of bedrooms. If you’ve got a partner and a child, you might need 3 bedrooms. But you can compromise floors; you want hardwood but you can live with carpet.

So instead of putting in an offer on a 2 bedroom that won’t work for the long haul, put in the offer on the 3 bedroom with the green walls, carpet, and a gravel driveway. Those are all things you can fix later on your own!

Make a list of your non-negotiables and the things you’re willing to compromise on. Refer back to this list before making any offers.

The Final Word

Buying a house as a single woman is possible and it can be a reality for you. By creating a detailed plan, saving as much as you can, and utilizing help when you need it, you can be a homeowner.

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