5 Tips for Buying a Home When Single

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As the number of Canadians living alone continues to rise and the average size of households shrinks, the idea of the “nuclear family” as the typical Canadian household has fallen by the wayside. For the first time, there are more one-person households in this country than four-person households. That means the face of Canada is changing, as is the face of the average homebuyer.

Today, singles are making up a more significant percentage of the home buying market, but for these individuals, affording housing can be difficult. With no spouse to split housing costs with, singles spend an average of 35 per cent of their income on food and shelter, compared to just 30 per cent for couples with children.

The fact that a single person can’t rely on a spouse to help afford housing, combined with the rising prices in Toronto and Vancouver real estate means that renting or buying a home on your own can be a daunting task. But it’s not impossible, and there are plenty of single home buying success stories out there.

To help streamline the process of buying a home on your own, here are our tips.

Make Your Income Predictable

One of the biggest factors your lender will use to determine if your eligibility for a mortgage is your income, and without a spouse to lend additional stability, your lender will scrutinize your income closely. Your lender wants you to have secure and steady employment so that you won’t default on your mortgage. If you’re working a job that makes your income variable and unpredictable, the first step you should take is to try and make your income as predictable as possible. You might need to give up the freelance life for a full-time job or sit down with your manager to work out better hours. If this isn’t possible, consider using a co-signer, such as your parents, to guarantee your mortgage.

Choose a Real Estate Agent That Understands Your Needs

Most real estate agents have their specialties. Some excel at working with baby boomers, some enjoy helping first-time homebuyers, and some even deal exclusively with house boats! Since you’re buying a home as a single, it makes sense to work with a real estate agent who has experience with your situation. You’ll have different needs than a traditional home buyer, so it’s important to find an agent that understands those needs and can help you find the perfect home.

Get a Support System

Buying a home as a single can be daunting, partly because you won’t have a spouse to bounce ideas off of or help you weigh the pros and cons of different homes. This is where your support system comes in. When you begin viewing homes, bring along a trusted friend or family member to the viewing. They’ll be able to help you evaluate each home fairly and keep you in check if you fall head over heels for a home. It can be easy to ignore water damage or crumbling drywall if a home is next to your favourite coffee shop – your support person is there to point out those potential issues to you and keep you from making a purchase you’ll regret.

Buy a Home That Suits Your Current Lifestyle

If you are buying as a single and have no plans to settle down or have a family, you can skip this part, but if marriage or children are in your future – listen up! When shopping for a home it can be tempting to buy your dream home for a future that doesn’t exist yet – but this is risky. Don’t buy a home with bedrooms you don’t need or a yard for a dog you haven’t yet adopted. Sure, that might be the home you’d eventually like to have, but if it doesn’t fit your lifestyle, you’ll regret it.

Instead, buy a home that meets your needs now, with just a little room to grow. If you’re a single person who loves city life, consider a one bedroom or two bedroom Toronto condo or townhouse, which would give you room to grow if you did meet a special someone – whether that be a future spouse or a canine companion.

Hedge Your Bets

Finally, when viewing homes, it’s always smart to keep resale value and rentability in mind – especially if you are single. Don’t choose a home with features that might turn off potential buyers or renters when you go to sell the home or rent it out, and stick with properties that traditionally have good resale value. For example, condos and townhomes can be a great option in the Toronto real estate market because they are in high demand and make great investment properties. If you think that you might like to become a landlord down the road make sure you choose a Toronto townhouse that allows renters because sometimes the condo corporation has bylaws against it.

About Jordann Brown

Jordann Brown is a freelance content marketer and owner of the popular personal finance blog My Alternate Life. She has been featured in major publications and by news outlets including CTV News, the Globe and Mail, Moneysense and the Huffington Post. You can follow Jordann on Twitter at @myalternateblog.

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