Buying a home as a single parent is different from buying as an unmarried individual or as a couple. To put it simply, it’ll all be on you. From finding a realtor to looking for a house to applying for a mortgage to moving, you will be the individual solely responsible.
In all likelihood, it’s the biggest investment of your life too. It’ll be a tiring process at times, but keep in mind you’ll have a sizable asset at the end of it. Here are some tips to keep in mind if you are buying a home as a single parent to help you out.
1. Plan your finance
Before you look at neighborhoods or go Zillow surfing, you must sit down and plan your finance. You should look at your existing assets, like any income you may get if you’re selling the house you and your ex co-owned. It would be best if you also looked at any debt from that time. Check if you or your spouse owe any back taxes to the IRS for such unknowns can threaten to derail your plans.
Calculate your potential income over the next few years. Whether you’re self-employed or salaried, be realistic about your net income. Remember that if you’re taking a mortgage, you’ll be making payments for decades.
2. Meet with an advisor
Most of us take professional help in all other areas of life except personal finance. We limit expert-help to the tax season. But an advisor can help plan your finances for the long term.
You don’t have to get one on a retainer basis. You can opt for a per-hour fee. But before you meet, mail your financial statement. Mention that you’re planning to buy a house as a single parent. This will help them prepare a customized plan for when you meet.
They will tell you whether you should save some more to increase the downpayment and decrease the mortgage load. An outside opinion may even inspire you towards generating more income on the side. What you spend for a couple of hours in consulting could translate to savings in thousands of dollars. So, don’t skip this step.
3. Choose the right realtor
The quality of the house you end up buying will depend on the quality of the realtor you choose. At the outset, do not hire the seller’s agent. There will be a conflict of interest and you’ll be the one footing the bill.
Your agent must know your requirements as a single parent. The house should be in a secure neighborhood. You shouldn’t have to walk up two flights of stairs carrying kids and groceries, so make sure you and your agent discuss such lifestyle details. They should also take care of the title search and all other paperwork for you.
4. Conduct an inspection
Remember these two words that will save you a lot of headaches later: professional inspection. As a single parent, the last thing you want to do is run around looking for a plumber because the bathroom pipes are leaking.
With a professional inspection, you’re looking for not just existing problems but also potential issues over time. Only trained professionals will know if the pipes are rusted or if the wiring is too old, or if the foundation is developing cracks.
5. Get pre-approved for a mortgage
Most people believe pre-qualified and pre-approved are the same thing. They are not. Pre-approved is when a bank has had a good look at your finance and is willing to offer you the mortgage. There is a guarantee in pre-approval. This is where you want to be.
Also note, some sellers will only do business with those who are pre-approved.
6. Check if you qualify for discounts
This is another reason to seek financial advice from experts. You may be eligible for loan discounts either from the Federal Housing Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Habitat for Humanity, or the Good Neighbor Next Door program.
Ask your financial advisor if there are any other federal or state subsidies that could help you buy a home.
7. Involve the children
You don’t have to discuss the finance with them but do involve the kids in the decision. This will be their home and neighborhood for the foreseeable future. Take them around on a drive before you sign on the dotted line. Let them see their future schools, parks, and shopping malls.