Home Ownership: Accessible During Any Relationship Status
Ahhh, Valentine’s Day, the rosy holiday filled with hearts and declarations of affection! In recent years, American culture has made sure to include even those without a beau by proclaiming February 13th as Single Awareness Day (or Galentine’s Day if you’re a Leslie Knope fan). While it may seem silly at first, many have taken this day to celebrate the joys of singlehood. There is a sense of pride to be had and lessons to be learned from living independently. This can include landing your dream job, finally taking that backpacking trip through Europe or maybe even launching a business idea. One thing that can be overlooked is that singles still desire and have the ability to crush their long-awaited financial goals. And you don’t have to be hitched to conquer your money milestones.
Member Story: Living the Dream
Emma Bourgeois, Meritus Credit Union member, recalls her journey of achieving home ownership as a single lady, specifically at only 25 years old! Although it was by no means an easy task, she enthusiastically encourages other young professionals to pursue this goal as it is well within reach. “My parents graciously let me live at home rent-free throughout college and beyond until I had saved up enough for a down payment,” said Bourgeois. “While in college, there were times I would work up to 4 jobs simultaneously! Thankfully, between living at home, working multiple jobs and having earned TOPS scholarship money, I was able to finish college debt free with some savings in the bank.” However, future homeowners shouldn’t let other debt (student or otherwise) stand in the way because it is still quite possible to find an affordable home for your budget.
Bourgeois encourages keeping personal finances simple. Monthly transfers from her checking account to savings was key to save for her down payment. She also used money monitoring apps frequently to make sure she kept within budget. She made conscious efforts to not overspend, for example, she brought her own lunch to school as opposed to other classmates who would eat campus food daily. “It’s so crazy how easily one can fall into a spending habit and not really even feel it financially until you look at it collectively.” When it came time to finally provide a down payment on her house, Bourgeois was able to use saved funds from her multiple jobs. She also took advantage of a special First Time Homebuyer program, which only required a 3.5% down payment. This made the process of purchasing a home more of a reality.
Bourgeois concludes with advice to those who are trying to finally buy their own home, reiterating that surrounding yourself with like-minded friends is key (for example, you may struggle if your friends constantly want to go out and spend money as opposed to those who want to also save and be more frugal). She suggests her own budgeting “hack”: go back to the drawing board (or excel sheet) with your finances. What are you spending money on that you don’t really need? Maybe you don’t need that Hulu streaming service when you mostly watch Netflix or the Starbucks-a-day habit. Could you make your own iced or hot coffee instead?
Homebuying Independence in Action
Saving over a period of months may take a little more work or time, but it can add up to a large amount of money. “Of course, my main piece of advice is to partner with a reputable financial institution such as a credit union, where you know you’ll get solid advice that will be to your benefit,” explained Bourgeois. “Education is also key. Read blogs, find workshops and search for communities of people who are doing what you want to achieve. Cutting back and forming better financial habits is hard at first, but trust me - you get used to it relatively quickly and your wallet will thank you!”
Feeling inspired? A new home may just be in your reach. Take the following steps to make sure you’re set for success before you make one of your biggest purchases.
Four Steps Leading You to the Door of Your Dream Home
1. Meet with a Mortgage Officer at Meritus Credit Union
At the credit union, we pride ourselves on the unique member experience we provide. No one member is the same, and we are happy to sit down with you and find out your goals, expectations, and what makes the most sense for your circumstances. We’ll be able to find a comfortable price point for you and what you should look for on the market, as well as how much you will need to put down, including closing costs. Once pre-approved we will guide you on what next steps are needed to complete so you can be ready for your new mortgage.
2. Save for a Down Payment
If you haven’t started saving for a down payment, start now! Maybe take a second part-time job to stockpile the cash you need. Some homes qualify for rural development and won’t require a down payment. Our mortgage officers will be able to tell you if that is the right decision for you.
3. Start House Hunting
Next, begin the house hunting journey. Remember, by hiring a realtor, you don’t have to pay them since the seller pays them. It’s a win-win! The biggest mistake buyers make is choosing a friend or family member as their realtor. In reality, you should interview a few different ones. Make sure to find someone who will actually be putting in the work for you and won’t be sitting on the sidelines, waiting for you to send them prospective homes. Their job is to find you a home, and you want to make sure to choose a realtor who is on their A-game.
4. Begin the Contract Process
When you finally find the right home (or the right now home), you’ll begin the contract process. During this time, you will finalize your mortgage loan details and have an inspector and appraiser survey your home. If anything is amiss and you want to walk away from the purchase, you will have a certain timeline to do so. But if everything checks out, you’ll be on your way to closing day and will walk away with a brand-new set of keys. Oh, happy day!
Contact us if you are seeking a mortgage loan! We’ll find the perfect mortgage officer fit for you and provide you with everything you need for the journey.