buying a house

The Ultimate Guide to Buying a House as a Single Woman

I remember the first time I spoke to a crowd about buying a house. It was a group of young women at a local meetup in Austin. Many of them were unmarried and worked for themselves, or in a creative field.

Many women approached me after that, and I was pleasantly surprised by how many single women were thinking about buying a house by themselves. They didn’t know where to start and had very little information on how the process even worked. Would they qualify?

Don’t get me wrong, the dual income that comes with buying a house with a partner or spouse may make this process easier, depending on your situation. This is why many people have chosen to wait until marriage.

Yet, if you have the right education and guidance, you can find a way. Believe it or not, you can get creative with purchasing real estate. Whether that be partnering with a friend, family or utilizing Airbnb to rent out part of your property for some extra cash.

So, what should a single lady who’s curious about buying do?

Get Your Finances Together ASAP

Why? You may be shopping for properties that are way too expensive for you.

The first thing you need to do is assess your budget and see how much mortgage you can afford. What you’re paying in rent is a good starting point, but don’t forget about things like home insurance or property taxes.

Reviewing your spending can show you how much flexibility you have month to month and also show you areas you can cut back in to boost your down payment amount!

Find a Real Estate Team You Can Trust

Next, it’s time to assemble your Avengers real estate team! You’ll need an agent you can trust and who can move quickly in a competitive market and a lender to get you access to a mortgage.

Then you’ll need to select a mortgage lender to find out what you would qualify for and what your monthly payment would look like.

Honestly, this is many first-time buyers least favorite part. A lender is going to ask you for a lot of financial information.

They may ask you for some information that your family doesn’t even know. But don’t worry, it’s like going to the doctor…they have seen it ALL.

Some paperwork you may have to provide includes the last two to three years’ worth of tax return statements, recent pay stubs, the last 12 months’ worth of bank statements, and a letter from your employer stating that you are gainfully employed.

A lender has certain criteria that will help them determine how much you qualify for or if you qualify at all. Your job history, credit score, and debt to income all matter. You’re asking to borrow an enormous amount of money; they need to make sure you’re able to pay it back!

Compare Renting vs Buying

Although I like to preach that you don’t need to wait until marriage to buy a house, that doesn’t mean I think buying is a good option for everyone.

Think it through:

If you plan on staying put for a few years and currently pay high rent, it’s probably a good idea to buy. If your job is unstable, you may want to wait.

If you get a fixed-rate loan, your monthly payment will not change over the loan term, BUT rent will continue to rise.

There are tax benefits you can utilize when you buy a property. You may be able to have multiple write-offs: mortgage payment, homestead, home office, etc.

Personal finance is personal. If you’ve got a good low rent, in an area of town you love, buying is not for you. But if you’re ready for your slice of the American Dream, buying is a way to diversify your assets and build equity over time.

Review Your Housing and Budget Options

After you know how much of a home you can afford, begin browsing through your options.

You can start with a simple online search. Find a realtor you trust and start asking them housing questions. Tell them your budget and where you want to live, and they’ll tell you if it’s realistic or not.

Being single and searching for a place to buy, you get the chance to pick out exactly what you want. You alone get to make the final decisions!

To turn your home into an INVESTMENT you need to keep in mind resale.

For example, it’s usually better to buy a two-bedroom property over just one bedroom. They tend to appreciate better.

It’s your life, so weigh the pros and cons. If you want a certain quality of life that you think only a one-bedroom property can give you, go for it! I’m a big believer in your primary home being your happy place.

Remember that on top of a down payment you will also need to pay other closing costs such as lender fees, prepaid expenses, appraisal, and the inspection. Need a bit more money?

Try reaching out to your family. They would probably rather give you money towards a house over buying you material goods for your birthday/holidays.

So, to all my single ladies out there who have a dated timeline stuck in their brains (school, job, marriage, then home), I hope this helps you switch up your mindset. Simply weigh the pros and cons and you may find buying a house now may be beneficial to you in the long run!

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buying a house

Kristina Modares is a realtor in Austin, TX and founder of Open House Austin. Please feel free to reach out if you have questions about the home buying process!

5 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide to Buying a House as a Single Woman”

  1. Adventure Rich

    Awesome! I agree with Kristina, if a single woman is financially prepared to buy a house and it is the wise option, go for it girl!

  2. It’s been quite in vogue recently for various media outlets to poo-poo home ownership in favor of renting, and I just don’t get it. The cynic in me wants to say that they’re just pandering to the Mass Millennial demographic that won’t be in a position to purchase a home for a very long time.

    The rent-vs-own analysis really needs to be done on a locale-by-locale basis, not using national data. It’s not right for a media outlet to headline, “Renting is a smarter financial decision than owning!” based on data from all 50 states and then proclaim it as gospel. People make major life decisions based on that kind of stuff without realizing that what may be true in the average is not necessarily true in their backyard.

    Sure, home ownership over the long haul may not be such a slam dunk in less desirable parts of the country, but let’s face it. I’m in the Los Angeles area, which is an extremely desirable place to live, and apart from some unprecedented catastrophe, it will continue to be. This desirability will cause both rental rates and home prices to increase substantially over the long run. In such a climate, would one rather be a renter or an owner? The answer is simple.

    And if your family is small (like ours), you can turn your house into a money-making asset by renting out space. We rent out a room to a young woman from church. She pays us $850/month, which comes out to over $10,000 a year. Over 10 years, that’s over $100,000 of easy money! You’d be hard-pressed to find a landlord/lady willing to let you rent out a room in the house you rent from him/her.

    Another beautiful thing about real estate is the ability to leverage. My first property was a 4-unit using FHA 3.5%-down financing in the burbs. I lived in one unit and rented out the other three.

    This was an incredible deal and has proved to be a major boost to my net worth. I’ll give you 4 reasons: 1) I was living for free while my friends were paying through the nose for L.A. rent, 2) I was building equity as my tenants paid down my mortgage, 3) I was cash flowing hundreds of dollars a month, and 4) I got 4 units an hour from Downtown L.A. for a mere $15,000 out of pocket, and the property has already substantially appreciated.

    And because I only put 3.5% down, I had a decent chunk of money left over (+ cash flow from the tenants) to put into “real” real estate in the form of two private placements — a beachside development deal along the California coast + a buy, rehab, retenant, refi apartment syndication in Arizona — the returns on which have blown the stock market out of the matter.

    The FHA fourplex strategy really is a no-brainer for single Millennials. If one does nothing else in real estate, they will have succeeded by getting into a fourplex as a young man or woman with only 3.5% down.

    Assuming the rents cover their expenses, in 30 years when they’re in their 50s and the mortgage is paid off, and they’ve done the smart thing by raising the rents over the years, they will be sitting on a million-dollar asset that cash flows thousands of dollars per month at the cost of a measly $15k or so out-of-pocket when they were 20-something.

    I can’t think of any better way for young people with limited resources to prepare for their future so early on in life with so little cash out-of-pocket.

    If I had listened to all the noise and rented all those years rather than owned, my net worth significantly less than it is today, and that’s not even including the appreciation on the property.

    1. Wow, you’ve had quite the run with real estate. I think your first point is so smart- look at what’s happening in your own city and not national trends!

  3. I think it’s less about being single and more about living in Los Angeles, although I hear things are getting pretty expensive in your neck of the woods too, eh? Maybe I should buy in Austin now before it gets TOO crazy? 🙂

    1. Oh it’s crazy now. A two bedroom, one bath in my neighborhood just sold for 700k. And I do not live in the nice part of town! ? But tough housing markets are definitely a game changer for single incomes. There’s a big difference in affordability when prices are astronomical.

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