photo by Tima Miroshnichenko
As a single parent, making the decision to buy a house is an exciting step. However, it's also one of the biggest investments you'll ever make, and with a single income, it can seem downright daunting. That's why it's important for single parents thinking of buying a home in South Carolina to consider their situation and prepare before jumping into their home search.
Here are five home-buying tips that will help you make sure you know where to start when you want to buy a house.
1. Get your credit in shape
Single parents tend to deal with a number of challenges when it comes to their finances. Raising one or more children on a single income can make managing your bills and monthly expenses a tough proposition. As a result, lower credit scores tend to be a reality for most single parents.
Credit scores play a major role in the purchase of a home. So it's important to have a thorough understanding of where your credit history stands before getting too far along in the home search. Using something like Credit Karma makes it easy to review your credit reports for errors or concerns about identity theft that you can dispute to clear them off your history.
It's important to start disputing items on your credit report as soon as you decide you want to buy a home, as the process can take some time.
In addition, take a look at all the monthly payments you currently have and whether they're up to date or not. Because lenders review your payment history as well, it's important to get everything current and make sure you've made on-time payments for a while. This ensures you have a record of consistent payment history.
2. Determine your budget
photo by Sarah Chai
Being able to afford the monthly mortgage payments on your current income is certainly top-of-mind for any single parent thinking of buying a home. That's why we recommend answering some questions before you start house hunting so you have a clear understanding of what your family needs in a home. The answers to questions like the ones below affect how much house you can afford. Here are some of the things you'll want to think about before you start your search.
How many bedrooms do you need?
How many bathrooms are adequate?
How big of a yard can you handle and afford to maintain?
What are the preferred schools and/or daycares for your children to attend?
There may be other priorities unique to your family to consider, but each of these answers will help to narrow down the type of home you need.
3. Save your pennies
photo by Suzy Hazelwood
Once you've begun the work of improving your credit scores and have a home and budget in mind, it's time to look at what's possible in terms of setting aside savings.
While there are a number of grants and programs available for single parents to help assist with your home-buying journey, it's still a good idea to consider the following expenses:
- Saving for a down payment. FHA loans require just 3% down, but most conventional loans require 5% or more, and VA loans still have some costs associated with them even if you qualify.
- Having money set aside for mortgage payments and closing costs (the fees paid at closing).
4. Be willing to ask for help
Many single parents in South Carolina qualify for special financing, tax credits, and other homeownership programs to help them purchase suitable homes. In addition, many single parents are also first-time homebuyers which also opens up more options to help get you into a home. We've worked with quite a few single parents who've benefited from the use of these programs and if you qualify, there's no reason you shouldn't consider them.
The following resources provide helpful information on the various assistance options, including grants, payment assistance programs, and more available to low-and moderate-income families:
All the above information can be a bit intimidating, so it's also a good idea to also seek out a real estate agent familiar with these programs. At the very least, they should have a network of housing counselors who can answer your questions so you're educated about your options.
5. Never think of yourself as a statistic
photo by Kindel Media
This is the last and one of the most important tips on this list. Being a single parent isn't something to be ashamed of nor should it make you feel like a statistic - unworthy of a home for you and your family.
Can you buy a home as a single parent? You most definitely can!
Your circumstances may be challenging, but with the right tools, support, and knowledge you're more than capable of buying a home that you and your family can enjoy for years to come. And while it may certainly take a bit longer than you may prefer, you'll get there. The homebuying process isn't exclusive to couples!
We strongly believe single parents deserve a home to call their own. The knowledge that you've worked hard for the roof over your family's heads provides an enormous sense of satisfaction.
We should know - Charleston's Best Home Team is a single-parent family, too! We know the challenges you face firsthand when it comes to working your way toward homeownership. But we've helped many single parents achieve the dream of homeownership so we know it's well within your reach.
Buying a home can be an intimidating undertaking for any family. However, with planning and preparation, it doesn't have to be. As a single parent in South Carolina, you have plenty to consider in the home-buying process. But by following these simple tips, you'll find yourself more prepared and confident going forward.
If you have any questions about buying a home as a single parent, on a single income, don't hesitate to get in touch.