Being a single parent is the hardest job you will ever have. Buying a home can easily be the second most challenging but also the second most rewarding (the first being a parent of course, sometimes). Owning your own home as a single parent offers a sense of self-accomplishment, the chance to build equity, and best of all, a home in which to raise your children. If you’re selling or buying your home for the first time or the tenth time, it is important to research the ever-changing process and costs that are associated with each action.
If you’re selling or buying your home for the first time or the tenth time, it is important to research the ever-changing process and costs that are associated with each action. As a buyer, a home inspection can give you valuable insight as to what problems should be corrected prior to closing.
As a seller, some home improvements you should consider are:
- Painting rooms
- Replacing outdated light fixtures
- Replacing outdated cabinets
- Replacing or professionally cleaning carpets and window dressings.
These few improvements can decrease the amount of time it takes to sell your home and increase its value, which is important when your waiting to purchase a home elsewhere.
First Things First
The first step in buying a home is getting pre-approved for a mortgage. The pre-approval process is a detailed look into your credentials that will require you to supply a lender with documents such as pay stubs, bank statements, employment verification, monthly expenses, and past tax returns. This will give you and your agent an idea of your borrowing power when looking for your new home.
Explore your grant and special loan options. There are first time home buyer grants available and as a single parent, you may also qualify for other Federal home loan programs.
When selling your home, understand your local real estate market.
Market prices can vary significantly from one neighborhood to another as well as the time of year you sell. Springtime months are generally stronger home selling months. Should you list your home in the fall/winter or wait until spring? It depends on your location and the local market trends in your area.
Hire a Real Estate Agent
There are many steps in the home buying process and a real estate agent will represent your best interests and make the process less stressful. When you are a single parent trying to buy a home, there are many questions you can ask an agent so that the experience can be as smooth as possible.
Single parents have hectic schedules that often have last minute changes. Your agent should have a relatively flexible schedule for showing homes and a method of communication that allows for quick response time. Also, it is very important to know how many homes he or she sells a year on average.
When selling your home as a single parent, hiring a real estate agent will save you time and valuable energy. He or she will know how to correctly price your home and can advise you regarding the associated costs of selling. An agent can also help you decide what your next move will be after you sell your home.
Determine Your Housing Priorities
If you are going to buy a home, remember that you are making an investment; a long-term investment, and you will want to find a location you are comfortable living in. The longer you live in a home the better because there are many costs associated with selling a home after a short period. It can be very costly to sell after living in your home for only a few years.
Keep in mind that as a home owner, you are responsible for all the maintenance and repairs necessary to keep your home in good condition. For example, if you buy a home in a cold, snowy location you will need to winterize your home which includes things such as snow removal and cleaning your gutters, etc.
Other things you should be thinking about while deciding on your future residence as a single parent include:
- The number of bedrooms you need.
- The amount of space you and your children will be comfortable in (square footage).
- The number of bathrooms.
- Do you need/want acreage?
- What style of home? What type of layout? Single or two story?
- What School District?
These are things that will make your house your home for you and your children. Determine which things you can compromise on and those which you cannot.
Include the Little People
Change is often hard for children and including them whether you are buying or selling your home will be important to the success of your move. Including them in the home buying process will make them feel that they belong in the new home and may get them excited about leaving the old one. It helps eliminate potential pitfalls in the future and brings a sense of excitement to the move.
Generally, the benefits of owning your home outweigh any downsides. By planning carefully, and with the assistance of home buying grants, single parents can maintain a home on their budget and take advantage of federal tax benefits.