You can’t buy a house unless you’re married…right?
Wrong. Single men and women make up a big chunk of the nation’s homebuyers, and that trend continues to grow. Single homebuyers purchased 33 percent of all homes sold in 2011, up from 32 percent in 2010 and 31 percent in 2009, according to the National Association of Realtors.
But whether you’re single or happily married, timing your home purchase correctly is imperative. If you’re single and thinking of buying your first home, make sure to ask yourself the following questions:
Do I make enough money to buy a house?
Don’t let the lack of a secondary income keep you in a rental, but be reasonable with your expectations. Your income alone has to be high enough to meet loan standards. Each month afterward, you’ll be solely responsible for managing mortgage payments and upkeep costs.
How much income do you need to buy a home? To prequalify for a VA loan, you need to hit a monthly debt-to-income (DTI) ratio of 41 percent or lower. To calculate your DTI, divide your total monthly recurring debts by your total monthly income:
|DTI (debts divided by income)||$1,450 / $3,700 (39 percent)|
DTI is certainly important, but it’s just one of many standards used to determine VA loan eligibility. For a thorough look at your qualifications, talk to a VA-approved lender.
Will my family size expand soon?
Getting married soon? Planning on having children in the next couple of years?
No one can predict the future. But if you’re nine months pregnant or getting married next fall, you’ll want to house hunt accordingly. Don’t buy a home that is too small for your immediate needs, and consider delaying your purchase if there’s too much uncertainty surrounding your future plans.
Is my location permanent?
If you love your current location and have a great job, it might be the perfect time for you to put down roots and buy a home.
But if PCS is a possibility or you’re itching to move to the opposite coast, you should probably delay your home purchase. Buying a home involves closing costs, property taxes, transfer fees and other charges that aren’t associated with renting. These costs are tough to recoup unless you’re staying in the home long enough to gain some appreciation.
The bottom line? Don’t buy a home if you’ll need to sell it in six months.
What benefits will I see from buying a house?
From financial advantages to the warm, fuzzy feelings that accompany your first set of keys, single homebuyers can gain all kinds of benefits:
- Return on your money: It’s a buyer’s market out there. If you buy a home at a good price and keep it long enough to gain appreciation, you could eventually sell your home for more than what you bought it for. Renters don’t have this opportunity.
- Better credit history: Lenders prefer borrowers who have good experience with credit. With a well-managed mortgage under your belt, you’ll be a great candidate for future loans.
- Freedom: This is one of the biggest plusses for homeowners. No more questionable landlords. No more rising rents. No more rental restrictions. If you’re a homeowner, you manage your space as you please.
Renting offers its own advantages, too, including less maintenance, greater mobility and perks such as pools or gyms. If you’re lucky enough to find the perfect rental at a great price (with a good landlord), renting may be the best route for you.
But if you’re ready to commit to your own little slice of heaven, don’t let anyone tell you that you have to be married to buy a home.
Ready to house-hunt? Contact Veterans United Realty at 800-985-5723 to discuss your options with a military-friendly real estate agent.
Photo courtesy of Panegyrics of Granovetter