Buying a home can be daunting, even under the best of circumstances. Taking that big of a step alone – whether you’re single, widowed or divorced – can make the home-buying experience even more challenging.
Assess your financial situation.
Just like any other buyer, singles must do a detailed assessment of income, assets and recurring obligations to see what they can afford. Then speak with a reputable mortgage lender honestly about how much home you can realistically afford. If the light is green, then move forward with getting pre-approved for a mortgage.
What are the ongoing costs of homeownership?
Because singles are on their own, it’s wise to be extra conservative when working out a monthly budget including property taxes, insurance, maintenance, landscaping, repairs, and homeowner’s association dues, if any.
Beef up the emergency fund.
Instead of the customary three- to six-month emergency fund, single homeowners would be wise to have additional cash in emergency savings in case of job layoffs or disability.
House or condo?
Consider whether you want the low-maintenance condo life or a conventional home with landscaping responsibilities. Do you prefer living with mostly other single adults or would you rather live in a neighborhood with lots of children? Be sure to check differences in homeowners association fees. They are likely to be much higher for condo owners. And ask your insurance agent about differences in policies for houses and condominiums.
When purchasing a home, it’s wise to think about what your life might be like a few years from now. Will you be getting married at some point? Do you have children from a previous marriage who will live with you at least part of the time? Do you want to consider a roommate or boarder to help shoulder costs? All these possibilities should come into play when deciding how large of a home to purchase.
Shop with a trusted, experienced friend or relative.
Along with an agent trained to help first-time homebuyers, singles should also seek advice from a trusted friend or family member. Their knowledge can be a tremendous asset in helping you decide on a home.
Buying with another single friend.
If you and a friend or relative who is not a spouse decide to purchase a home together, consult with an attorney. What happens if one of you gets a new job and moves out of state? What happens when one of you dies? Property rights for married people are clearly spelled out in most states, but purchasing with a non-spouse can be a legal challenge.