Written by guest expert, Julia Mitchell at Outspiration.net
A growing number of single women are entering the housing market, buying their own properties and reaping the rewards and benefits of homeownership. If you’re in the market for your first place, are relocating after a divorce, or are interested in becoming an investor, there are some tips to keep in mind to ensure a successful venture. Open Space Mediation provides some tips to guide your journey to the perfect home.
Know What To Expect
The majority of homebuyers are still partnered couples, and that has a lot of advantages. Couples can combine their income when it comes to qualifying, giving them double buying power. They can also take advantage of one another’s work histories and credit scores. If one person has a high score and the other is a little lower, they can make the higher-scoring partner the primary name on a loan application.
If you are coming to the housing market as a single woman, enter the process well-informed. Go into the home shopping process by recognizing that you’ll need proof of stable employment, strong credit, and a healthy down payment.
Find Out What You Can Borrow
Getting pre-qualified for a home loan before you start looking around is a smart move, as you’ll be able to narrow your choices to your preferences and your price range. A good mortgage lender can assess your credit score, your debt-to-income ratio, and your cash on hand for a downpayment and give you a range to work with. Don’t forget, that you’ll also need to compare interest rates and loan products and factor in closing costs. You’ll also want to make sure the monthly payment is one you’re comfortable with. Even if a lender says you’re qualified to borrow $750,000 doesn’t mean you have to buy a $750,000 house.
Choosing an “As-Is” Property
When it comes to finding a great deal, you may consider purchasing a property “as-is.” While it’s true that you can save money, there are pros and cons to this choice. One of the biggest advantages of buying an as-is home is that it can be much more affordable than a renovated property. If you're willing to put in some work yourself, or hire a contractor to do it for you, an as-is home can be a great deal. However, there are also some significant disadvantages to consider. An as-is home may have hidden damage that will require expensive repairs, and it may not meet your standards for comfort or aesthetics.
If you choose to move forward with an “as is” property, work with both a real estate agent and a lawyer who is experienced in this area. Conduct a thorough inspection as well. If there are major issues with the foundation or bones of the property, it may be in your best interest to pass on the property. However, if there are smaller repairs like roofing or the water heater, consult your budget and move forward with caution. Finding someone to fix your water heater or roof is a relatively easy process. Just findi a good online search engine that will allow you to enter in your specifics for a price estimate, and go through their list of recommended contractors. Always review and talk to multiple companies before committing to one in particular, especially with larger projects.
Handling A Post-Divorce Property
Many couples find it’s wiser to sell joint property following a divorce, split the profits, and go separate ways. However, according to Mainline Divorce Mediator, if there are minor children involved, or one spouse is interested in keeping the property, one may be able to “buy out” the other’s share in the home. If a house is awarded to one party as part of a divorce settlement, that person can refinance the house into their name. Many of the options that are available depend on the value of the home, the equity invested, and the financial resources of each individual involved.
Making A Move
Whether you’re moving into your first house as a single person or relocating as part of a divorce or separation, you’ll need to make move-specific plans. If you're downsizing, you may want to sell, donate, or store some household items you don’t have room or need. If you’re packing and moving with kids, you’ll want to make the process as comfortable for them as possible. Pack their rooms last, unpack them first, and help them create a sense of familiarity in your new home to aid in the adjustment. A full-service moving company can be a big help in these circumstances. Make sure to get at least three in-person written estimates before choosing a provider.
Buying a house, whether single, married, or divorced, is a big undertaking, and has the potential to be stressful. Do your due diligence, work with an experienced real estate agent, and commit to making well-informed choices. Practice good self-care measures during this time - it will keep you focused, and positive, and allow you to prioritize your own needs first.
If you are going through a divorce and are still managing conflict with your ex, contact Open Space Mediation. We are committed to helping resolve conflict in a healthy manner. Visit us online to learn more about how we can help you get through this difficult time.