If you're single and looking to buy a home, you may think that the process is the same as for those who are buying along with another person. In actuality, though, it can be a little more complicated to buy on your own. Here are 5 "do's and don'ts" for buying real estate as a single individual.
Don't Shop Alone. Shopping for a new house can be an emotional time, and it can be hard to be objective when you're doing it alone. Taking along a trusted friend or family member is a great way to make sure you look at things with a keen eye and a logical mind.
Do Get Your Documents In Order. Getting a mortgage as a single buyer requires that you be a little ahead of the curve when it comes to preparedness. Check your credit history to ensure that there are no negative marks. And be sure you can provide the income documents your broker will require (usually two years' worth of taxes, paystubs, or bank statements). If you're self-employed, you may need to work with a mortgage broker prior to looking at any homes for sale because the documentation may take longer.
Don't Stretch Your Budget. Buying a house often makes people want to spend too much money, but this can be dangerous when you only have one income to work with. Don't push yourself to buy more house than you can really afford. Rather than focus on the traditional debt-to-income ratios that many mortgage companies want, it's a better idea to find a home that's between 25% and 30% of your income so you're not too thinly stretched.
Do Think Ahead. This is unlikely to be your forever home, so you should consider what you may want to do with it in the future. In the event that your job or your relationship status changes in the next ten years or so, you may want to keep the home as a rental. Or you may instead decide to sell it. Either way, look for a property that will appeal to future renters or buyers.
Don't Be in a Rush. Buying a house is a big decision, and you should do it when you're in a good position to cover all the costs and upkeep. Don't feel pushed into buying just because there are a lot of homes for sale or because the houses on television look so great. Make sure it's a good choice for you and that you have the necessary time and energy to put into homeownership. If you're focusing on your career, for example, you may not have the time to devote to keeping a yard or making renovations. And that's okay.
Following these few guidelines will help you not only make the right decision on your new home but also to have more confidence as you shop for real estate.