8 Tips for Single Female Homebuyers

Buying a home is a complex process, and it gets even trickier when you’re going solo. Meet women who have purchased homes on their own, and see their advice for other single female homebuyers.
By: Lisa Johnson Mandell

Photo By: Jeff Berger, Manager, Photography & Video for Discover

Photo By: Kayla Chapman

Photo By: Jan Allred

Photo By: Lauren Bowling

Photo By: Rhonda Franz

Photo By: Kim Beeler

Photo By: Kahshanna Evans, Kissing Lions PR

Photo By: Harrine Freeman

Don't Push Your Limits

“Just because you are pre-approved to buy a house at the top end of your range, doesn't mean you should,” advises TJ Freeborn of Discover Home Loans, pictured here with her son Jack in front of the Elmhurst, Illinois, home she bought. “Single women have only one income to rely on for household expenses. It's smart to make sure that your monthly mortgage payment is an amount that you are comfortable with. Then, if unexpected expenses arise, your ability to pay your mortgage and maintain your lifestyle isn't compromised.”

Compare Renting Vs. Buying

When 24-year-old Kayla Chapman of Columbus, Ohio, found out her monthly payments would be the same whether she bough or rented, she decided to take the plunge.

Consider Your Future

Salt Lake City attorney Jan Allred says, “I bought my house (in a PUD) when I still had two children at home. Now I’m an empty nester, and I don’t need all of the space. Also, keep in mind that you won’t always want stairs. As I have contemplated resale and spoken to Realtors, main floor living has been one of the main requirements of buyers looking in a PUD like mine.”

Have a Backup Plan

Before you buy, make sure you have the equivalent of several home payments tucked away in savings. When Lauren Bowling of Atlanta was first looking for a home to rehab, she was shopping with her fiancé. But they broke up, and she took over the purchase. She advises that you estimate paying double the price of the down payment to initially get into the home, particularly if you’re doing renovations. Lauren chronicles her purchase and complete remodel of a foreclosure in a historic Atlanta neighborhood on her blog L Bee and the Money Tree.

Understand Home Warranties

“Depending on the age and state of the home and property, it may be worth the expense of buying a warranty, or it may not,” according to writer and columnist Rhonda Franz, pictured here with her 5-year-old son in front of their Northwest Arkansas home. She says the fine print may be tricky, but it’s best to read it all to make sure you know what’s covered. It can be a real lifesaver if the HVAC system goes out, or your water heater explodes, for example. Know that you can work with the repair technician to make sure the work falls within your warranty.

Follow Your Heart

If you love a certain lifestyle and can afford it, don’t let others sway you. Oregon marketing expert Kim Beeler (pictured in front of her current home) says, “If I had it to do over, when I became single again I would have purchased a single-family residence in the community that I love. The condo was the worst decision I made because the value didn’t increase, and there were large assessment fees and high monthly HOA dues. I'm so glad I eventually followed my own heart and purchased a home with a yard, where I enjoy gardening, and deeded access to a lake, where I enjoy kayaking.”

Start Basic, Then Upgrade

Everything doesn't have to be designer perfect the second you move in. You can always upgrade later, after you've taken care of additional moving and finance costs. “Don’t start with pricey flooring or bells and whistles in an unstable market. Go simple and chic until time to upgrade and be open to the magic,” advises Kahshanna Evans of Kissing Lions PR. She's shown here in the live/work space she bought in Harlem where she based her boutique public relations agency. 

Take a Homeownership Class

Maryland financial expert Harrine Freeman, CEO/owner of H.E. Freeman Enterprises, took a homeownership class that discussed preventing foreclosure, home inspection, etc., and highly recommends it. She used a nonprofit homeownership company called Home Free USA, but she says, “Many states have Housing Counseling Agencies that offer these types of courses for free.  I found the class during research on first-time homebuyer programs.”

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