As a single parent, you already have a lot on your plate. You have to play the role of both parents, you undoubtedly have a crazy schedule, and you still have to be able to put food on the table.
That can be hard enough to do on a single income. So, when it comes to buying a house, the process can feel overwhelming.
The good news? You’re not alone. Today, most children live in single-parent households. As a result, it’s become easier for single parents and guardians to buy homes without feeling stigmatized.
But, that doesn’t solve every problem. It’s expensive to buy a home, and if it’s your first time doing it on your own, you might feel completely lost or worried that you’ll be taken advantage of. That doesn’t have to be the case with a bit of background knowledge and a few tips in mind.
So, if you’re a single parent thinking about buying a home, keep the following tips in mind and understand the considerations you might need to make along the way.
Build Your Budget
Before you even begin browsing for homes on the market, you will have to know what you can afford. You don’t want to look at houses completely out of your price range only to end up disappointed in the end.
As a single parent, you probably already have a basic idea of your monthly needs and expenses. You are likely downsizing from a larger home, so consider saving money by not renting a storage unit or rewarding your hard work with more stuff for your new house.
You can get that later. Regardless of the size of your house, it’s important to narrow your expenses down and get into great detail when you’re budgeting for buying a home.
Your budget should include things like:
You should also include what you’re currently paying to live – whether you’re still in a marital home or you’re renting an apartment or house. How much do you currently pay each month, and how much would you be able to budget each month on a new home?
Once you have a budget laid out in front of you, think of ways you can cut back or move money around. You might be able to get rid of more than you think.
Moving into a new home as a single parent can be a fresh start. If you need/want to save money, consider a more minimalist approach. It’s less of a financial burden, easier to keep things clean, and can even reduce your stress levels.
Ask for Help
When you’re a single parent, it’s easy to feel like you have to do everything on your own. You might feel embarrassed to reach out for help or even too proud. But, asking for help when you need it will make the home buying process go much smoother.
Obviously, that includes asking for financial assistance from family members if needed. But, don’t limit yourself to that one area. Maybe you’re doing fine financially but need support in other areas.
Are you stressed and need some time for self-care? Ask a friend or family member to spend a few hours with the kids. Do you feel alone in your situation? Consider seeking out a support group for single parents. If someone offers help without you asking, choose to accept it.
That might not seem like it has anything to do with buying a home, but the process of moving is extremely stressful.
One survey found that 45% of people said moving is the most stressful life event. You can reduce that stress by asking for help with whatever you need – no matter how big or small.
Seek Out Resources
Remember, you’re not the only single parent trying to buy a home in the U.S. Because there are so many in similar positions, there are resources and programs you can use to make the process easier.
Even if you have bad credit, you may be able to qualify for home loan programs that are more forgiving, including:
- VA loans (if you’re a service member or surviving spouse)
- HUD housing counselors
- HUD homeownership vouchers
Contacting your local Public Housing Assistance program can make it easier to determine what you qualify for and how certain resources can help you in your situation.
If this is your first time buying a home, some programs can provide tax credits or special interest rates.
A realtor or mortgage loan officer can give you more information about those options, making it easier to find a house you can afford while providing something safe and practical for your kids.
As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into buying a home before you even start the search process.
But, by getting your financial situation in order beforehand and knowing the kind of lifestyle you want, you’ll be able to make smarter choices when you finally start looking for homes.
Keep these tips in mind to be as prepared as possible throughout the buying practice, and it will make the experience easier for you and your children.
Dan Matthews is a freelance writer with a penchant for financial wisdom and solid research. You can find him on Twitter @danielmatthews0 and LinkedIn.