Real Estate Today: It’s a Women’s Market

Home sales remain strong through much of the country, and single women are, in part, to thank for the housing boom. According to CNBC, unmatched maidens are more than twice as likely to buy a house as their brothers, uncles, and male friends. If you’re a lone lady ready to take on the responsibility of homeownership, keep reading for things you should consider, including how to evaluate your finances and ways to ease the burden of moving day.

Checks and Balances 

Your first and most important task when entering the real estate market for the first time is to know what you can afford. There are a number of factors that determine your future home’s value, including your income, outstanding debt, credit score, and current monthly expenses. SmartAsset   Smart Asset explains that a lower debt-to-income ratio may put you in a better position to qualify for a lower interest rate. Even if your credit isn’t perfect, there are still loans available if you have a FICO score of less than 600, although 620-plus will be required for a conventional loan. (Check your credit score at FreeCreditReport.com.)

Regardless of your income, assets, and liabilities, the vast majority of loan products require a down payment of between 3.5 percent and 20 percent of the home’s selling price. The higher the down payment, the lower the mortgage. If you’re purchasing a home after a divorce and you owned mutual property with your former spouse, you can use your portion of the proceeds from the sale of that property as a down payment. Keep in mind, however, that your first mortgage must be satisfied and any equity lines of credit or second mortgage products paid. You may also be required to pay capital gains taxes from the sale.

Once you have an idea of what you can afford, you can begin shopping for a mortgage provider. By speaking with a lender before you attend your first open house, you will have a realistic picture of your financial health and will know precisely what you can afford. Further, as the market remains fiercely competitive, having a pre-approval letter on hand may open more opportunities than would be available to the casual buyer.

When it’s time to begin looking at properties, start at the low end of your pre-approval. Keep in mind that the list price does not accurately reflect your future monthly expenses. In addition to the mortgage payment, you will also be responsible for property taxes, HOA fees (if applicable), PMI, and homeowners insurance. You will also pay closing costs, which Zillow explains can equal 5 percent of your home’s cost. Research the average list prices of homes in the area you want to live and don’t count out the possibility of expanding your search a few miles outside of city limits.

Now that you’ve gotten your finances in order, know how much you can afford, and have narrowed down your search parameters, you’ll need to apply “personal filters” that will weed out homes that don’t fit your lifestyle. Crime rates, access to public transportation, proximity to and quality of local schools, neighborhood amenities (such as nearby parks and playgrounds), and local property tax rates are all things you should consider.

Save the Date 

As the closing date draws near, you’ll want to plan ahead for the day. Consider hiring movers to handle the heavy load and contact the cable, internet, and utility providers for an estimated installation timeline. You will also save yourself lots of headaches and stress if you stay organized throughout the packing process and label boxes clearly so your movers can drop them in the right place at your new home.

Congratulations on your upcoming move. It’s both an exciting and anxiety-filled time, but it’s one made much easier on the mind, body, and soul (not to mention the wallet) if you take the time to know what you’re going into and avoid getting in over your head.

Author of this article, Tilda Moore, researches and writes about educational resources for openeducators.org. She is passionate about helping parents and teachers in providing kids with the best education possible. She works directly with teachers and other public education groups to ensure they are working toward our vision of constructing a reliable database of verified information