Is there anyone more excited than a prospective homebuyer making a go of it on their own for the first time? No spouse, no significant other, nobody else enjoying the satisfaction (and tax benefits!) of owning a home? Of course, that excitement can also induce anxiety when only your initials appear on all those transaction documents, and only your name is on the dotted line as buyer. And it’s a scenario that’s getting more common as the number of people buying a house on a single income is growing.

For instance, 18% of recent buyers were single females and 9% percent were single males, according to the 2021 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report, a study produced by the National Association of Realtors Research Group. First-time buyers, incidentally, made up 31% of all purchasers last year.

Because single applicants rely on just one salary and one credit profile to secure a loan, the mortgage process can be a bit more involved than it is for two-income applicants. Having some sort of income protection—such as disability insurance or a mortgage safety net—offers peace of mind should you lose your job.

Here are a few tips for first-time buyers—even if you’re still a few years away from taking the plunge solo:

  • Check your credit standing and do what you can to enhance it. Generally, having a higher credit score will mean getting a lower interest rate—and that’s what everybody covets.
  • It’s never too early to start saving for the down payment and the actual purchase, but don’t forget closing costs and moving expenses.
  • Thoroughly research first-time homebuyer assistance programs, including government loans.
  • Get a preapproval letter. Essentially, it’s a lender’s offer to loan you a certain amount under specific terms.
  • Create a realistic budget—and stick to it!
  • Make the most of open houses to get a handle on—not just properties that interest you—but also communities.
  • Get a professional home inspection. Smart sellers will beat you to it, paying to have one done right before putting their house on the market, then displaying the inspection report during every open house and also share it with prospective buyers. The report tells them you’ve maintained the home and that you’re not trying to “hide” anything in need of repair. Of course, you can still pay to have your own inspection done if that makes you feel better about the process.

For a downloadable homebuying checklist, click here .

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