8 Things Every Woman Should Know About Buying Her First Home

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You’re a strong, independent woman who can do anything on your own — including buying a home. This is beyond empowering, but you also want to be as informed as possible going into the process, to ensure you get an amazing space at a fair price.

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The club you’re about to join — i.e., female homeowners — is still exclusive, but membership is on the rise. From 1990 to 2019, the homeownership rate among women grew from 50.9% to 61.2%, according to the Urban Institute.

To get started, you already know you need to find a great real estate agent and get preapproved. However, the more informed you are, the better your chances of landing a new home that makes you truly happy.

Want to learn more? Here are eight things every woman should know about the homebuying process before purchasing her first property.

Be Willing To Negotiate

When it comes to negotiating, Bill Gassett, a realtor with Maximum Exposure Real Estate, based in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, said to be prepared to go out of your comfort zone.

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“In most areas of the country, there are bidding wars on most properties,” he said. “You may have to consider things such as waiving your home inspection, or even your mortgage contingency.”

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Choose a Home That Fits Your Lifestyle

A property you tour might be nice, but Gassett said to take your lifestyle into consideration before making a final choice.

“For example, if you are an executive and travel a lot for work, then you may want to consider a townhouse or condo versus a single-family home,” he said.

This is due to the fact that townhouses and condos typically require less maintenance than a single-family home.

“The benefit of townhomes and condos is you won’t have to worry about hiring someone to do the necessary upkeep of the exterior or doing it yourself,” he said. “With townhomes and condos, the homeowners’ association almost always will take care of that for you.”

Get the Right Insurance Coverage

If you have a mortgage, your lender will require you to obtain some type of homeowner’s insurance. However, Shaun Alston Howard, a financial representative with Country Financial, said it’s important to make sure you have proper comprehensive coverage for your property.

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She said this might include flood, earthquake or sewer backup insurance, depending on your area. To make sure the right insurance coverage fits your budget, she recommended requesting an estimate for homeowner’s insurance before making an offer on a property.

Additionally, Howard advised asking your insurance agent to run a Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange — C.L.U.E. — report.

“It contains seven years’ worth of information about the home and any insurance claims made during that time frame,” she said. “Then, your agent will let you know about any claims and you can confirm that repairs have been made.”

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Request a List of Vendors From the Previous Owner

Chances are the current owner of the property has a go-to list of service professionals — i.e., plumber, electrician, HVAC contractor — they call for repairs and routine maintenance. These people are already familiar with the home, so MaryKay Shumway, ABRR/CRSR, a broker-associate with the Kellstrom-Ray Agency, based in Sister Bay, Wisconsin, recommended asking the seller to make a list for you with their names and numbers.

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“Negotiate keeping the house on a list for a vendor — yes, with skilled tradesmen in regard [to] demand this has become a thing,” she said. “This has come in handy for me over the past two years for items for my customers and clients, for everything from [the] internet — not all areas have reliable internet in my area — to keeping reliable, licensed electricians.”

Have a Double Emergency Fund on Hand

Generally speaking, adults are advised to have an emergency fund that covers three to six months of living expenses. However, Janine Acquafredda, a real estate agent with RE/MAX, based in Brooklyn, New York, recommended having more cash at your disposal, as the solo owner of the property.

“Make sure to have double the emergency fund that a couple would,” she said. “Since you are alone, should things break or need repair, it all falls on you.”

Put Safety First

You can’t put a price on safety, so Acquafredda emphasized the importance of ensuring this is a key factor in your home search.

“Make sure you are in a neighborhood and in a home where you feel safe,” she said. “Homes with gated access, streets that are well lit, attached garages with interior access to the house and homes already wired with alarm systems are great features to look for.”

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Know How the Purchase Could Be Affected by Marriage

Right now, you’re unmarried, but that could change in the future. Maggie Wells, a real estate agent with Keller Williams, based in Lexington, Kentucky, said many single women looking to purchase a home ask her how a potential marriage would impact their property rights.

She said every state has different laws, so conduct research to know where you stand.

“For example, Kentucky is a common law state with dower statues,” she said. “Dower rights basically give protection to spouses who are not listed as titleholders on the deed.”

If you need additional guidance, she recommended reaching out to an attorney who specializes in marriage law to ensure your asset is fully protected.

Be Aware of Closing Costs

Saving up for a down payment on a home is a big deal, but that’s not the only major expense associated with the transaction. You’ll also need to have enough cash for closing costs.

On average, buyers pay 2% to 5% in closing costs, according to Zillow. This covers a variety of charges that might include recording fees, transfer taxes and an origination fee.

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