Most home buyers today are either single individuals or couples, which can be explained by the fact that Millennials make up the largest share of the home buying market. Still, there are plenty of single parents buying homes today. The major difference is that single parents sometimes find it more difficult to buy a home because they have to rely on a single income to support an entire family. If you are one of them, don’t despair. It can be done if you keep in mind these 5 tips for a single parent buying a home in Southern California.
1. Determine Must-Haves and Like-to-Haves
First, as a single parent buying a home in Southern California, you need to make the crucial distinction between what you have to have in a home and what you’d merely like to have – what you need vs. what you want. Getting clear on this early in the process can save you both time and money.
A good way to begin is by making a list of must-haves, for example, number of bedrooms and baths, square footage, fenced yard, kitchen size, local amenities, neighborhood character, and so on. Next, you can list the like-to-haves – features that would be nice, but aren’t essential, like a deck, in-ground pool, or smart features. When you have these lists in hand, your house hunting will be more effective and your negotiating leverage will be stronger.
2. Save for the Down Payment
Unless you can qualify for a no-down-payment mortgage like a VA loan, you will have to come up with a down payment of anywhere from 3% to 20% of the purchase price. So as a single parent buying a home in Southern California who has to rely on a single income, you’ll need to begin saving for the down payment now . . . or sooner.
A good way to go about saving the down payment money is to open a separate savings account solely dedicated to that purpose. That way, it will be much easier to resist the temptation to spend the money when an emergency arises or you come across that shiny new item you think you have to have. Also, consider using one of the new online savings accounts like VARO that yield 2+% on your money.
Then, once you’ve saved enough to cover a down payment, it’s time to begin house hunting in earnest . . . after you do one more thing.
3. Get Mortgage Pre-Approval
As a single parent buying a home in Southern California, you should definitely get pre-approved for a mortgage. And keep in mind that pre-approval is different from being pre-qualified.
When you’re pre-qualified, a lender has examined your credit report and has decided that you may get a mortgage loan, but nothing is guaranteed. Pre-approved, on the other hand, means that you have indeed qualified for a certain mortgage amount, and the lender will, in fact, grant you a loan for that amount (assuming, of course, that your financial situation doesn’t change in the meantime).
Sellers will view you as a serious buyer when you have a pre-approval letter. It also means you will have more negotiating leverage when you get down to brass tacks with the seller.
4. Never Skip the Inspection
Then, when you’ve found a house you’re interested in and have made an offer, do not skip the inspection. The house may look perfect, and the seller’s agent may assure you that nothing is wrong with it during the open house, but don’t leave it at that. Pay for an inspection, and walk through the house the inspector. Doing so can help you avoid costly surprises after you take ownership.
5. Get Professional Help
Maybe the most important tip for a single parent buying a home in[ market_city] is to get help from professionals. For there will be a mountain of confusing paperwork filled with financial and legal technicalities. Your qualified real estate agent can help you navigate all this, use her negotiating experience to get you a better deal and advise you along the way.