According to The Knot Real Wedding Study, in 2021 the average age of marriage in the US was between 33 – 34 years, depending on whether the couple postponed their wedding a year because of the pandemic. Those figures have exceeded the median age for first-time home buyers, which is 32 years according to the NAR. They also report that “better than one in four of today’s home buyers is single.”
If you’re looking to own a home as a single person, you can be confident that your dream is achievable. You don’t have to say “I do” to buy a house. When you’re ready to begin your search, work with the professionals so you have expert advice every step of the way. Here are some tips to get you started.
- Build your savings. A couple has two incomes to count on. If one of them loses their job unexpectedly, there’s still money coming in. If it’s just you who’s paying the bills, you’ll need to have a way to support yourself when something unexpected occurs. It’s a good idea to have an emergency fund equal to several months of expenses just in case you run into financial trouble.
- Compare renting vs. buying. See the Citywide article, Rent vs. Buy: We Can Help Determine the Right Choice for You. Rising rents can make home buying appealing and cost-effective for singles. Buying a house can be a good way to stabilize your housing costs. The strong job market we are in now is helping single people earn enough to afford a home. Lenders will be impressed if you can prove job stability and that you are committed to staying in one location.
- Review your credit report. You’ll have just one income and one credit history to report when applying for a mortgage loan. You won’t have the potential for someone with better credit raise your credit profile. On the other hand, you won’t have to worry about someone else’s past credit record. If have a good credit history, then being single can be an advantage. See Tips to Raise Your Credit Score.
- Keep non-mortgage debt to a minimum. When you apply for a mortgage loan, the lender uses a debt-to-income ratio to evaluate your qualification. This is the amount of your monthly payments, including existing debt plus the mortgage you are applying for, represented as a percentage of your income. Higher income and lower debt help to bring down your debt-to-income ratio and make you more attractive to mortgage lenders.
- Think about your future home and needs. Consider things like your lifestyle, a location that’s close to work, a home office, space for entertaining and extra room for the family you hope to have someday. See Your Dream Home List: What You Can and Can’t Do Without. Professionals can help balance what you think you want and how much you can afford to spend. Weigh the things you can’t change against the potential for upgrades later.
- Think about maintenance. Whether you’re a DIY pro or new at home maintenance, make sure you’re comfortable being solely responsible for repairs. While you can always pay someone for bigger fixes, this is an additional expense.If you’re not comfortable with big home maintenance projects, consider a newer home that is likely to have fewer potential problems.
- Apply for a mortgage first and then shop later. Getting pre-approval for a mortgage before shopping will help narrow down your options. Falling in love with a home, only to discover it won’t fit into your budget, can be hard on your morale. By applying first, you’ll know what your exact budget is. You also must consider property taxes, insurance, closing costs, etc. Those expenses can add up quickly. Don’t opt for a home at the top of your budget without adding up all the costs.
- Explore down payment options. Research down paymentprograms so you can get a feel for what you’ll need to save to buy a home. Discuss your options with a Citywide loan officer and a real estate agent. Follow the advice of the pros to determine what you’re eligible for and what’s best for you. Ask if an FHA Mortgage is right for you. These mortgages require a lower down payment and provide state and local assistance programs for those who qualify.
- Lean on the advice of people who have been through the process. Buying a home can be a difficult decision for anyone. To help you make this life-altering decision, don’t go it alone. Ask for advice from parents, older siblings or friends who have been through the process. Have someone you trust come with you to look at a house you are serious about before you make an offer.
- Consider the market and don’t wait longer than necessary. With the strong housing market we are in, the longer you delay the decision to buy a home, the more it could cost you. Housing prices continue to rise, availability is low, and interest rates are trending up. Smart singles aren’t waiting for marriage or children before becoming happy homeowners.
Many more single people do not fit the stereotype of a person who shies away from commitment and has no desire to put down roots. They have steady jobs and an attachment to the area where they live. If you fit that profile, it is worth seriously considering buying a home.