Single, Female, and Ready to Buy

By Kelly Quigley, REALTOR® Magazine

The Single Woman’s Guide to Real Estate by Donna Raskin and Susan Hawthorne (F+W Publications Inc., 2006)

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Single women accounted for more than one out of five home buyers last year, a 7 percent jump from a decade earlier, according to research from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS. It’s safe to say this demographic is making quick progress in the real estate world. But according to the authors of this book, single women face a distinct set of challenges — emotional, financial, and otherwise — when buying and selling a home. This nuts-and-bolts book aims to help single women overcome these unique challenges, as well as the usual ones, to make solid housing decisions. Most of the book is written for a general audience, with information on obtaining a mortgage, making an offer, buying an investment property, and building a home; the final chapter of worksheets and sample reports is particularly useful. What sets the book apart from other how-to books (besides the floral-print paper separating each chapter) are single women’s personal real estate stories sprinkled throughout and a special chapter on post-divorce housing. “Women have, traditionally, been the people in families who decorate, clean, and care for houses,” the authors write. “So isn’t it about time that woman claim their purchasing power and actually own the homes they nurture?”

Tips From the Book:

  • Consider potential problems before sharing a vacation home. Sometimes it makes financial sense to purchase a vacation home with another person, possibly a good friend or family member. But you must make sure it’s someone you trust and with whom you can be honest about any problems that arise — and problems will arise. Plan ahead for what you’ll do if someone wants to sell or move there permanently. Maintenance fees, taxes, expenses, and earnings also need to be divvied up equally.
  • At a second showing, focus on the details. At the first showing, you’re somewhat detached and look for the general features you want: a fireplace, a home office, a big deck. When you come back for the second showing, you have to dig into the details. Bring a tape measure and a digital camera. You’ll want to turn on the showers and sinks, flush the toilets, open every cabinet or drawer, and look in the attic. Write down everything you notice — anything loose, leaky, or cracked. This will help you as you discuss with your real estate practitioner a fair price to offer.
  • Keep finances in check during divorce. Oftentimes during a divorce, bills go unpaid, credit cards are used irresponsibly, and financial surprises are uncovered — all of which could result in an unflattering credit report. If this happens to you, don’t panic. Instead, get a grip on your finances and figure out how you can repay your bills. After correcting the problems, contact credit agencies and explain you situation, showing that you’ve returned to your responsible ways. Ask them to fix your credit report; they often will.