Friday, January 31, 2014

The single homebuyer

Single and ready to buy? If you're looking at jumping into homeownership solo, here are my five top things to consider.

1. Stay within your budget. Buying a home on your own is a fantastic move and great step toward your financial future. But make sure it's a home you can afford if there is a momentary — or longer — blip in your financial profile. If you lose a job, you have a health issue, or anything else happens that could affect your ability to cover your monthly mortgage and other costs, remember you don't have a spouse or significant other to fall back on for the additional monthly nut. So while you are on your own, don't overextend. Buy a home well within your means.

2. Prepare for added chores.  Being the only person with a set of house keys also means being the only person responsible for maintenance. A leaky faucet and overgrown lawn won't take care of themselves. For those single homebuyers who find the idea of maintaining a yard a bit daunting, or who worry that climbing up ladders to clean out the gutters every rainy season is just too "hands-on" for them, condominiums and townhomes or even smaller homes in new communities require less exterior maintenance and might be a good option. In other words, don't buy a home you can't manage yourself.

3. Think of Safety and security. Remember that being a single homeowner doesn't allow for someone to be home the majority of the time. So you will need to consider safety and security issues. You want to be able to lock the door on your way out, and not have to think twice about it. So make sure you are in a low-crime neighborhood and the house or condo feels safe and secure.

4. Consider resale value.  Purchasing a home is a great long-term investment. However, there are many reasons single homebuyers may need to move, such as relocating for a job or a lifestyle change. Therefore, it's important to think about the resale value of prospective properties during the search. You want to be aware of homes and condos that have great general appeal and will be easy to resell if need be.

5. Think about the future. You may buy yourself a nice little home or condo now, but someday you might not be single and you'll add a significant other to your team and possibly even children. Though additional space may not be needed immediately, it's important to consider potential future plans for a home. Having a spare bedroom, if it's affordable, is a smart choice.

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