Buying a House When You’re a Single Parent

One of the most difficult and rewarding jobs on the planet is being a parent—even more so if you’re a single parent. As a single parent, you still have the dream of home-ownership, but the path may be riddled with obstacles, stress, and questions. But the important thing to remember is that it’s not impossible. There are plenty of options and a few good programs designed to help single parent households achieve the American dream of owning a home.

single father with sonIt’s important that you understand what counts as income. Your loan qualifications and the amount for which you’re approved are weighed and measured against your debt to income ratio. By knowing what counts as income, you can greatly improve your chances of qualifying for a home mortgage loan.

Do everything you can to make sure your credit is in good standing. Your credit report is also going to be a substantial qualifier (or dis-qualifier!) for your home mortgage loan. Although many lenders understand a hardship situation, such as divorce or illness, they still want to know that you honor your debts and pay your debtors on time. If necessary, seek counsel from financial advisers on how to repair and/or prepare your credit for a home loan application process.

As with any home buyer, you should seek pre-approval first, before you start looking at homes. Ask your lender about special programs, such as first-time home buyer programs, IDAs – Individual Development Accounts, and look into programs such as Habitat for Humanity and HUD Housing Benefits. If you’ve already got a real estate agent, you may ask for your agent’s expertise to inquire about programs you may not have heard of, and talk with other single-parent homeowners to find out how they paved their path to success. Do research on the Internet for programs available in your area, as these may change from state to state. Your community may have specialty programs in place to help single-parent families buy a house. There are also programs designed to help you with your down payment, with closing costs, or both. Know what programs are available to assist you and take full advantage.

Work with a real estate agent who has experience working with single-parent families, and who specializes in the types of house you’d like to buy, as well as the neighborhoods in which you’d like to live. Your real estate agent is going to be your guiding light through the confusing process of buying a home. Make sure you find an agent with whom you are comfortable, can communicate well, and who is ready, available, and able to answer any questions you may have.

single mother with sonKnow what your priorities are in finding a house. Is it crucial that you live in a particular neighborhood because of the kids’ schools? Do you require a certain amount of rooms? Do you need a large yard? Where can you make sacrifices? Know your list of must-have items and deal breakers so your real estate agent can do a fabulous job of showing you only the homes that meet your criteria and that are within your budget. Also, keep yard maintenance in mind and choose a house you’re able to care for properly.

Don’t over-extend yourself. Remember, on top of your mortgage payment, you’ll also be required to pay homeowner’s insurance, utilities, and as the homeowner, you’ll be responsible for maintenance and repairs. Know what your over-all budget needs to be, and stay within that budget. Just because a bank approves you for a certain amount does not mean you need to accept the whole amount if you can find a house in an affordable price-range. Buying a house above your means could mean you fail to pay your other bills on time, or worse, falter on your mortgage loan.

Buying a home is a big responsibility, especially if you’re a single parent. Find out what programs are available in your area. Seek out pre-qualification for your home mortgage loan. Work with a qualified, professional real estate agent who specializes in your desired areas. Know your list of must-haves and deal-breakers before you begin to shop, and shop within your budget so you don’t become house-poor or falter on your bills. Just because a situation is challenging does not mean it’s impossible!

Give La’Dweena Smith at Home Smith Homes a call today at 708-231-0136.

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