Friday, December 4, 2009

4. Let's Talk About Home Ownership!

Today's post is inspired by a blogger friend of mine, Becca Christensen, who will soon be a homeowner - just like myself!

Did you know that more single women are buying home than ever before? Yep!  Record numbers of single women are buying homes. 

Here are some stats:
  • More than 1 in 5 home buyers is a single woman.
  • Twice as many unmarried women are buying homes than single men.
  • Single women make up more than 1/3 of the growth in real estate ownership since '94.
So why am I blogging about home ownership today?  Well it's quite simple - I'm a homeowner! I purchased my first home (a condo) in 2004 at the ripe old age of 22.   My condo was built in 1996, it is a 2 bedroom 1 bathroom condo & while it may only be a little over 1000 sq feet, I am happy to call it mine! 

Here's how I made it happen.....

I was working at an insurance company in a pretty sweet job, I made good money, and had saved quite a bit of cash "for a rainy day," but didn't know when that rainy day was really coming.  I was living in an apartment with my boyfriend (at the time) & my lease was coming up for renewal.  There was a letter on my door that showed that my rent was going to be increased by approximately $100 a month when I renewed my lease.  I thought WHAT?! $100 extra a month - I'm not getting any more space, I'm not getting a nicer apartment, I'm getting this same apartment for $100 about no - there's absolutely no benefit in me renewing my lease.  So I started talking around, talking to the girls that I worked with who, BTW, were all homeowners & they suggested just looking around at homes on the market.  Initially I thought OMG, I can't imagine buying a house, surely I can't even afford a house!  Little did I know, I could, and the whole process was totally easy. 

I had 3 months left in my lease, so I started looking around.  I knew my criteria - I wanted a condo with at least 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom.  I didn't want anything that I was going to have to initially throw money into, I wanted a place with a small yard & a place that had been well maintained.  I wanted a place that was 1000 - 1500 sq feet, in a nice neighborhood in the middle of our "city."  I knew exactly what I wanted - I wanted a nice property that was going to be low maintenance.  My parents and I looked around for about 2 weeks before we lucked up on the condo that I now own.  We called the realtor, who also happened to be the owner, and she pointed me in the absolute right direction.  She first showed me the house, told me that if I truly intended to buy it, she would cover everything because she was so proud that a young woman like myself was going to take such a huge step & make such a responsible purchase.  I remember walking into my condo, laying in the middle of the living room & saying this is it, this is mine!  People always says if you speak it, it will come true.  From then on things seemed to move so fast!  The realtor set me up with a local mortgage lender, who pre-qualified me for a loan of waaaay more than I felt I could afford - some ridiculous amount of like $290K.  The qualification was done the same day that I looked at the condo.  That next week I had a home inspection - ALWAYS HAVE A HOME INSPECTION PRIOR TO PURCHASE EVEN IF THE HOME IS NEW! The home passed the inspection with flying colors!  Then came closing - seriously, this whole process took about 10 days.  At my closing I was hit with a bit of a surprise and a very good surprise.  The owner of the condo, also the realtor, had placed a warranty on the condo for 2 years - so if anything went wrong in 2 years the home warranty would cover it.  She also gave me a $2500 Lowe's gift card.  Closing took all of 20 minutes - I was expecting much much longer - but I walked in, talked with the lawyers about the paperwork, signed my name on several papers that said if you don't pay us we're going to come get you lol.  After my hand was about to fall off from signing my name, I was handed my house keys & sent on my merry way! 

How can you do it?  The same way I did!!
  • Save yourself some $$ - even if it's $5K, $5K is better than $0!
  • Pay down/off your debt
  • Get pre-qualified for a loan & make sure you explore all of your options.  If you're a first time home buyer, make sure to ask about special loan programs for first time home owners.  Sometimes if you can show that you have enough money in savings a lot of lenders will waive PMI, finance you at 100%, or offer other incentives.
  • DO NOT overextend yourself in debt - be realistic about the mortgage payment you can afford.  There is no purposes in purchasing a home that has a payment so big you can barely afford to furnish it, or barely afford to pay for the utilities.
  • When you start looking for a home & when you find one you like look at it during the day & at night.  My mom has always said a neighborhood may look great in the day time, it make look safe during the day time, but ride by on a Friday or Saturday night; you can tell a lot about the area on a Friday or Saturday night.  
  • Don't be afraid to make the purchase - home ownership is a great thing, any home, unless you totally trash it, will increase in value over the years.  The more work you put into it, the more $$ you will get out of it if you intend to sell it years down the road!

Now...go out and buy yourself a house dangit! ;)


Stevie said...

This is such a wonderful, positive post! I almost bought a condo a few years ago, but didn't find anything that I REALLY loved within my price range. I've since been laid off twice so it hasn't been the best time for me to buy something, but my goal is to buy something in the next 2 years. Good for you! It must feel SO good to walk into your own home every day knowing that it's YOURS. That's awesome.

Niks La Mode. said...

Very Postive and well written post! I am o homeowner and although am married it still feels greaT!

quarter-life lady. said...

Good for you! I don't anticipate buying a home anytime soon...I'm planning on going to grad school next fall for social work. I don't plan to be making the big bucks anytime soon, but I am good with money and know that one day my time will come. I wouldn't mind having my own place, but I'm enjoying putting my pennies together with my two roommates.

I can't wait to buy a home for a family though. I think it's great when single girls buy and I certainly don't think you hafta wait until you're married to do so! But I am looking forward to marrying an amazing man and buying our first home together. I think that'll be great fun!

Rickie said...

This article definitely inspire the first time home buyers as they would be thinking of what to do and what not to do and it’s a very good article.

Becca Christensen said...

I'm so glad you took my advice with this's fantastic! Too many ladies our age don't think they can do it without a man - I'm glad were here to show them otherwise.

I bought kitchen stuff for my new 'crib' today. I can't wait to get moved in.

I think you're advice was great and many people are probably surprised to know you can OWN for the price you pay in RENT. Always wiser. Like buying a car v. leasing. Always have something to show for your money.

Proud of you - and thanks for the encouragement (and shout out) as I join the word of singe, 20-something, home owners!


Laura said...

Great post, filled with great tips!! :)

I am also a young, single homeowner. Bought my house at 23 and never looked back!

Jill said...

Wow! You own your own home?! I won't be able to afford that for years lol

Ebony Jewel said...

@Stevie - I'm sure when you start looking again you'll find exactly what you want! Don't get frustrated & don't give up! :)

@Niks La Mode - You're a homeowner nonetheless though! I just think it's great that single women, especially young women, are taking the plunge into homeownership!

@quarter-life lady - Nothing wrong with waiting! I think if I would have waited until I was married, I probably could have afforded more house, but the condo that I'm in now works great for me!

@Rickie - Thank you - I was inspired by a coworker to buy a house & I try to share that same inspiration with others!

@Becca - I'm all excited for you LOL!! Can't wait until you move in, I'm tellin you, it's the best feeling in the world!

@Laura - I once looked back when I thought the AC unit was bad, but it wasn't; just needed some more freon. LOL

@Jill - It's more affordable than you think, really! I never thought that I could afford to buy a house either, but the more I looked into it, the better ownership sounded versus renting.