In a recent article for The Tennessean, Nashville resident Bonita Kolb recounted how difficult it was for her as a single mother in 1979 to get a mortgage.
“It was unheard of for a single woman to buy,” Kolb told the newspaper’s Bill Lewis in the article published May 24. “It just wasn’t done.”
Today, Kolb has a different story. According to the article, she recently closed on a town home for which she had no problem obtaining a mortgage.
Kolb’s more recent experience is similar to that of thousands of women across the country. According to the National Association of Realtors, single women are the second-largest group of home buyers in the country, accounting for 15% of home sales in 2015, second only to married couples who made 67% of all purchases. Also according to the NAR data, single women have consistently purchased more homes than single men, who accounted for just 9% of homes purchased.
Based on NAR’s statistics, real estate agents are bound to have many single women as clients. Agents can help them through the home buying process by passing along these four tips for single, female homebuyers, compiled by Marilyn Kennedy Melia for Bankrate.com.
Buy with confidence — Purchasing a home is still a good investment despite the recent housing bust because it creates a longtime valuable asset. Even so, don’t expect a quick run-up in property values, especially since there’s still a lot of homes on the market, certified financial planner Leisa Aiken warned.
“You shouldn’t think of a home as an investment that will make you rich,” Aiken said in the article. “But if you buy a home that you can afford to pay off, maintain and live in over a long period of time, you’ll have a low-cost place to live in retirement.”
Don’t stretch your budget too far — Experts caution it could be a mistake to borrow as big a home loan as a lender will approve, Melia wrote. In addition to principal and interest, the buyer must factor in other home-related expenses such as including property taxes, homeowner’s insurance and possibly private mortgage insurance, depending upon the type of financing obtained.
Shop aggressively for financing — Check rates with several mortgage lenders before making a final decision. According to the article, Zhenguo Lin, assistant professor of real estate at Mississippi State University, co-authored a recent study that found women head of households pay close to 0.5% more on home mortgages than other borrowers. Lin also recommended women homebuyers refrain from choosing a lender based on friend recommendations.
Try to get seller concessions —Buyer should ask the seller for concessions upfront to fix any problem a home inspection might discover. They should consider also asking for one-year warranties on appliances and major systems. Both of these concessions will help cut maintenance costs in the near term, Benjamin Clark, president of the National Association of Exclusive Buyers Agents in Avondale, Ariz., noted in the article.