what to look for when buying a house

The average person spends about 29 percent of their monthly income on rent.

With housing shortages happening all over the country, renters are struggling to find places to live that fit their budget.

If you’re like most renters, you want out of the rental market…NOW. And luckily, now is a good time to buy a home.

You’re probably thinking that buying a house is just for couples or families with more than one income, right?

That’s not always true. In fact, buying a home when you’re single is not only doable-it’s affordable!

You just have to make sure you’re ready. And there’s more to buying a house than finding a floorplan you love.

So, whip out that notepad and stick with us. In this guide, we’ll go over what to look for when buying a house as a single person.

1. Take a Long Hard Look at Your Finances

Before you start thinking about buying a house, you need to decide if you can afford to buy in the first place.

Go through your finances in detail. Look at your debt, credit score, and your monthly income. Then, review your savings, investments, and any other funds you might have at your disposal.

Look at how those factors have changed over time. Has your income gone up over the last few years and your debt decreased?

Yes? Great! You’re on the right track!

No? Then you’ll want to start working to get your finances in order before you even consider looking at houses. The last thing you want to do as a single homeowner is buy a house you can’t afford in the long-term.

Remember, taking time to get your finances in order or increase your credit score is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it’s one of the smartest things you can do!

The more debt you pay down, the higher your credit score will be. Lenders use your credit score to determine an interest rate on mortgage loans. Higher scores translate to lower interest rates, saving you money in the long-run. 

Once you have an idea of where your finances stand, set a firm budget and only look at homes within that price range.

Your mortgage options might dictate your budget for you, but you need to know what’s out there.

2. Start Exploring Your Mortgage Options

If your finances are in line and you’re sure you’re ready to begin looking at homes, start looking at your mortgage options first.

Take the time to explore your options.  It’s extra work, but it’s worth doing. Picking the first mortgage you qualify for could push you into tight financial straits. Remember, higher interest rates mean more money coming out of your pocket month after month!

There are dozens of different mortgage options that can fit singles perfectly. But unless you explore those options, you might end up overpaying.

The more you pay in interest, the more that home loan impacts your finances over time.

If you’re a first-time buyer, work with an experienced mortgage broker to find the best loan. They’ll be able to help you find and take advantage of first-time homebuyer programs, down payment assistance loans, and get you pre-qualified for a home loan.

Once you’re pre-qualified for a mortgage, you’ll know just how much you can spend on a house. Keep in mind that you don’t have to buy a house for the full amount of your pre-approval.

Each month, you’ll be making a mortgage payment to the lender. This sounds a lot like paying rent, but the stakes are higher. You’ll own the house once you pay the loan off in full.

If you can find a property that’s cheaper and still meets your needs, take it! Borrowing the full amount that you’re pre-qualified for only means you’ll pay more in interest over the life of the loan.

3. Know What You Can and Can’t Handle with a House

There are a lot of perks to being a homeowner. You can paint the walls any color you want. If the house came with outdated appliances, you can replace them with better models without getting permission from a landlord.

But you’ll also be responsible for maintenance and upkeep. These are the hidden costs of homeownership that many first-time buyers forget about.

As a single person, the full burden of paying for repairs and home improvements falls on you. There’s no one to help cover those costs.

This means you need to be honest about what you can handle from the property. Otherwise, you might find the property far more expensive than you thought it would be. Both in terms of cost and time invested in improvements.

You’ll save money by buying a home that needs a bit of TLC and fixing up. But if you’re not handy with a toolbox, you may end up spending more on those improvements than you save on the purchase price.

That said, if you buy a house for less than what your lender pre-qualified you for, you might be able to borrow the full amount if you apply for a renovation loan. This would cover the cost of any repairs or improvements you decide to make.  This type of loan is more complicated, so discuss the process with your mortgage lender to see if you’re up to it.

Just remember, this may push your move-in date back and is not ideal for everyone.

The most important thing you can do is be realistic about your skills and know what you can and cannot take with a new house.

Take these considerations and discuss them with your real estate agent. This will help them create a good list of homes to show you.

4. Look for a House That Fits Your Needs and Long-Term Goals

Buying a home on your own is a long-term investment. Even if you plan on selling the house in a few years, it’s still important to look for a home that fits your needs and can grow with you as those needs change.

Before you start looking at properties, create a list of things that your perfect home will have. This can be as vague as a large backyard or as detailed as an office space that has built-in floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.

Once you know what that property needs to have, look at your future plans. Are you thinking of renting the house out in the future as an investment property? Do you want to stay in the home for the next 20 years?

These factors will impact the type of house you choose.

Say you’re planning on buying the house as an investment property. You’ll want to buy a home that will be appealing to many people, not just you.

But if you’re planning on living in the house for decades, you can focus on incorporating those unique touches you love.

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

You’re buying a house on your own. But that doesn’t mean you have to navigate the buying process alone.

Doing so can end up leaving you with a sense of buyer’s remorse once you move in. Worse, that house could have issues that you might not have noticed during the initial walkthrough.

Instead, get a friend or family member you trust to look at homes with you. They may not have the final say on whether you buy the house, but having an extra set of eyes during the tour and a fresh perspective can help you make the best decision.

The same holds true for finding the perfect mortgage.

You’re not limited to internet resources and instant loan applications and approvals. In fact, relying on these to finance your house could end up leaving you with more debt than you can handle.

You don’t have to go through the house hunt alone. And you don’t have to go through the mortgage search alone.

If you feel overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Speak with a home loan professional.  Check out their online reviews to see what past clients say about their experiences.  Most people will seek out reviews and feedback before choosing a new restaurant; how much more important is choosing your mortgage lender?!

They’ll look at your finances, credit score, and debt-to-income ratio. Using this information, they’ll be able to help you find the best loan for your budget.

Take the Guesswork out of What to Look for When Buying a House

Buying a home for the first time is exciting, and it’s even more so when you’re doing it on your own. But that doesn’t mean you have to stumble through the process alone.

Find the right mortgage for your needs with help from The Tammi Lindley Team at Mortgage Express.

We may not be able to tell you exactly what to look for when buying a house that fits your needs, but we can help you find the perfect mortgage to fund your new home purchase.

Contact us today to schedule a free no-obligation consultation with our team.