Home Buyer Tips for Single Mothers
Posted by Eric Skates on
You are a single mom and you want to buy a home. This may be your first home or one you want as your final home. You may never have bought a home before or you may not have bought one for many years. Either way, good advice and sound ideas will save you time, effort, unnecessary expense, and unwanted headaches. It is worth remembering that the two most common reasons for a home going up for sale are:
- A major lifestyle change.
- They bought the wrong house.
We mention this because one of the major lifestyle changes that result in a home going on the market is a change in family circumstances. The other is the home buyer bought the wrong-sized home, or it is in the wrong place (e.g. wrong school district, too far from amenities) or they find they cannot afford to live there.
As a single mom you have enough to deal with, so noting these ideas should help you a lot. We understand your situation, and we know how to help make your home-buying smoother. Let's go through the main points.
Have a Sound Strategy
1. Plan It Out
How much you can afford is an essential part of planning, and we will come to that in the next section. But we will begin with the home itself.
Decide how long you expect to live there. If you think you may sell in a couple of years, then you do not need to wonder about life in ten years. If you expect to stay for a long time, then you and your children's future ages, potential health issues and future home, school, college, social, and sporting activities matter. These things are not certain, of course, but living in an expanding town or in a small countryside community offers different lifestyles, so think about where you and your children will get most out of life.
Decide on the kind of home you would like, for example:
- Condo, townhouse, or single-family home?
- Community play areas with a swimming pool or a nice backyard where the kids can play and you can indulge your hobbies?
- New and move-in ready or older and in need of some renovation or redecoration?
By having these ideas in mind and, if appropriate, discussing them with your kids, you will be able to focus well when you begin working with a Realtor.
2. Get the Finances in Place
If you need a mortgage, you want to be fully pre-approved for the right kind of mortgage. Knowing exactly how much home you can afford is so important. As a single mom, you may be eligible for special loan types, so you want to be very clear about your mortgage options. Some states have programs that other states do not so work with a local, knowledgeable lender rather than checking out national loan products on the internet.
You may be eligible for a:
- Student loan forgiveness program to free up money to help with your mortgage payments.
- Veteran's program.
- Reverse mortgage program, depending on your age, that may allow you to buy a bigger home than you thought.
Find out where you stand as far as alimony, child support or other settlement payments and see how they affect your loan qualification. With the right finance advice, you will be clear about how much home you can afford and how soon you can begin your search.
3. Protect Yourself from Your Ex-Partner
If you are single because of legal separation or divorce, you should:
- Protect your credit score. Get your free credit reports, check them for errors or for items which should have been removed during the divorce process.
- Freeze your credit. Lift the freeze for a set amount of time when you are with your mortgage loan originator, so she can do her side of things for you to pre-approve your loan.
- Close joint accounts and open new, single accounts so only you have access to funds and overdraft options.
- Secure your investment accounts and IRAs so you know that money is ring-fenced from your ex-partner, and cancel all "authorized user" agreements.
- Ask your loan officer for advice on how to build your own credit profile and raise your credit score.
- Get legal advice on what role your ex has with regard to your finances and future loans if you live in a "community property" state and if you are only legally separated.
- Get advice from your loan officer on the technicalities of arranging a mortgage if you are separated as opposed to being divorced.
- Know which income receipts, etc. you need to qualify for your mortgage, and keep each receipt for the time your loan officer specifies, so you have them readily available for your pre-approval application.
4. Find the Right Realtor
When you have Parts 1, 2, and 3 of your plan in place you start to look for a home. The best way to do this is to work with the Realtor who is right for you. All real estate professionals have licenses and are qualified to act as your buyer's agent. All automobiles have wheels and engines and will get you from A to B, but you still choose the vehicle that is right for you.
Your Realtor will become a trusted partner as well as an experienced professional whom you will rely on to handle the major tasks as well as the nitty-gritty details that can sink a contract negotiation or the post-contract activities. So choose wisely.
Will you prefer to work with a female Realtor, one who is about your age, who is also single or has kids about the age of yours, etc? As a single mom buying a home, you will rely on your Realtor, and you will spend a lot of time with them. So choose the human being as well as the professional.
As a single mom buying a home for you and your kids, you have a lot to do and a lot to plan. These four points give you a strong foundation on which to stand. When you want to begin, please know we are here to help and to answer your questions, just click here and chat with one of our specialists.