In honor of Women’s History Month in March, it’s time for us to talk about an important topic – women and home buying. Since 1980 when President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation dedicating a week to women, the movement has expanded to celebrate women and all of their incredible contributions throughout history. Out of this has come many subcommittees and groups dedicated to assisting women with helping them to achieve their goals and dreams – with one of those being homeownership.
Women in the Housing & Real Estate Ecosystem (NAWRB) is a leading voice for women focused on advancing gender equality, raising the utilization of women-owned businesses and providing women the tools for economic security, stability and sanctuary. Building off some of the group’s advice, here are some stats and tips for women seeking to own a home of her own.
Make sure your payments fit into your budget
When looking to purchase a home, your mortgage shouldn’t break the bank. It’s a great idea to have at least a month of emergency funds outside of your regular expenses. A lot of financial planners can work with you to establish a safe number to work with. If you’re just getting started with a budget, here’s a great resource for learning how to manage your money.
If you’re looking for a new home in the Triangle, there are a lot of budget-friendly options, starting in the low $200s for both townhomes and single family homes. Although that can seem like a large number, make sure to compare renting and buying. You might be surprised at how much you could actually be saving, while having equity in your own property.
Consider your future when purchasing a home
Maybe you’re career-oriented and want space for a large office. Maybe you’ve always desired to be a stay-at-home mom and want a playroom for the kids. Or maybe, you want the best of both! No matter what your dreams, goals, or desires are, make sure you find a house that has space for the long term. Even if it’s a starter home, make sure to have a list of non-negotiables you are set on. Whether it’s a large kitchen island for entertaining like this one at Glenmere in Knightdale or a covered porch with a private backyard for your dog like the ones at Providence at Southpoint, know what you’re looking for.
Explore loan options
For single buyers, the biggest obstacle you may face is affordability – especially since you’ll be qualifying for a mortgage based on income alone.
The other potential roadblock is coming up with your down payment. However, don’t let this stop you from pursuing your dream. These days, you don’t necessarily have to come to the closing table with 20 percent down.
There are lots of national, state, and local programs to help qualifying borrowers get into a home. To determine whether you may be a match for a low down payment or less restrictive loan, try the National Council of State Housing Agencies or the Down Payment Resource organization.
Another option for qualifying veterans, surviving spouses, and active-duty service members is the Veterans Administration mortgage, which requires no money down.
Finally, you may be able to put as little as 3 percent down using assistance programs through Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.
If you’re a first-time buyer, you might be able to take advantage of a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan, which offers low down payments (currently as low as 3.5 percent of the purchase price), plus low closing costs and easier credit qualifications.
Do your homework
If you’re moving to a new community, you will want to research the local area and dig into things like crime rate, commute time, nearby hospitals, public parks, community organizations, churches, and school systems – regardless of whether you have children. Home values in better school districts may appreciate more consistently, or at least hold their value when the housing market is soft.
Websites like StreetAdvisor and Foursquare that let you research local markets and might be helpful for things like this.
As a woman, it’s your right to homeownership. Make sure you check out all of our homes on the market and dig a bit deeper in our blog for more advice and insights on the Raleigh-Durham and surrounding area home market.
By Kendra Stowe