There’s been a major shift in the last couple of decades. Increasingly, women have been buying up homes and real estate on their own—outnumbering their male counterparts. It’s about making a good investment or finding a place they can truly call their own.
Of course, there are challenges that every home buyer must face, and some of them may affect women more than others. Fortunately, by knowing what to expect, you can help ensure a more successful (and hopefully lower-stress) purchase.
If you’re a woman buying your first home on your own, here’s what you should know…
You can handle the maintenance
Condos can be great for those who prefer a low-maintenance lifestyle. But if you’ve always wanted a house, that feeling probably isn’t going to go away. Yes, there’s a lot of upkeep involved, but don’t let that discourage you.
Here’s the thing. If you learned how to change a tire early on and somehow fell into becoming incredibly handy, more power to you! But the truth is, a lot of us have internalized this outdated idea that fixing a blown fuse or changing a furnace filter requires highly specialized knowledge. It doesn’t. That’s why it’s so important to take it one step at a time.
Fortunately, there’s no shortage of books out there that provide a fairly comprehensive overview of home repairs. In keeping with the theme of this post, you may want to check out “Dare to Repair: A Do-It-Herself Guide to Fixing (Almost) Anything in the Home.”
Understand your finances
If you’re in a position to buy a condo, townhouse, or fully detached home in Toronto, chances are you’re pretty good with money. That said, there’s no denying that for a long time, women weren’t socialized to learn about math and finances the way boys were (thankfully, that’s starting to change). For some—though certainly not all—women, the result is the occasional feeling of self-doubt.
The good news is, committing to confidence and making sure you know the basics can nip those potential feelings in the bud. For example, you should know how much of your monthly income you should spend on your mortgage (28 per cent is a good rule of thumb). You should also be aware of what your minimum down payment will likely be (it depends on the price of your home) and understand how much you should set aside for your deposit (there’s no set amount, but the more you include, the more attractive your offer will be).
Make sure you understand closing costs. This assortment of expenses can sneak up buyers. So long as you set aside 3 to 4 per cent of your purchase price, you should be safe.
Choose the right location
If you consider yourself a homebody, this point may not apply. In contrast, if you’re a single woman who loves meeting up with friends and going on the occasional (or frequent, no judgment) date, you may want to think long and hard about where you settle down. If you find a gorgeous waterfront condo in Etobicoke but everyone you know is in Leslieville, will moving there really improve your quality of life?
My advice? Map out the distance between any home you’re considering and your most frequently visited places. From work to the districts where you unwind to your best friend’s place to your (top-notch) vet’s office. When you’re choosing an area, remember that the idea is to make your life better—not more inconvenient.
Know your legal rights
So, what happens if you meet someone who gives you butterflies and you decide to ask them to move in? The easiest way to put your mind at ease is by separating your romantic relationship from your living arrangements. For example, I’ve heard of situations like this where the homeowner asks their partner to pay rent.
That said, these situations can be tricky. Your best bet is to speak with a lawyer who specializes in family law. They’ll give you a better sense of how the legal system views common-law relationships—and the division of assets. It’s an important step for your peace of mind.
In general, women are more likely to feel unsafe than men. We all know there’s good reason for that, but you should never have those feelings in your own home. Part of ensuring that you’ll feel comfortable in your new digs is choosing the right neighbourhood. Make sure you get a sense of what it’s like during the day and at night.
It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but you may also want to consider a security system. If you choose one enabled by smart technology, you can integrate it with your devices to receive alerts through multiple channels.
Are you a single woman ready to buy your perfect piece of real estate? I would love to help—get in touch to learn more about my buying process!