Buying a house when single is not an easy decision to make. However, single women are leading the pack and buying homes. According to the Financial Post, women accounted for 49% of home purchases in Canada of homes sold between 2013 and 2015. I remember debating whether I should buy a condo or not… I didn’t want to get ‘priced out’ of the real estate market and I wanted to diversify.
I was looking for a life partner and Mr. Right at the time, and I thought- if I buy a condo now would that be difficult to port the mortgage if I find my future spouse and we get a place together? Would it tell potential partners that I am ‘not ready to settle down’ because I have a home of my own?
It’s been over 5 years since I bought my condo. I remember my single girlfriends and I all bought our condos around the same time. I remember it was a daunting decision for me, I was deciding between being cash poor and mortgage strapped with a duplex (back when they weren’t over $1 million in Vancouver!) or buying a small condo. I opted for the condo and have very much enjoyed my condo living time so far. I love living in a condo, it is very low maintenance and I don’t have to worry about my place being broken into when I am on vacation.
I feel that single women have unique needs and criteria when it comes to buying a home or a condo.
You’ve gotten your First Home Savings Account maxed out, you’ve got your Home Buyer’s Plan ready now you just need to pick a condo to buy.
Here are some condo buying tips to get you started on your path to home ownership and what to look for in an apartment for a single woman.
Table of Contents
Safety, Safety, Safety
It’s not just location, location, location, but it’s also about safety. I remember when I was shopping for a condo, I was initially drawn towards condos that were located on the first floor with patios, so that I could easily let my dog out and have my own entrance (e.g. through the patio entrance) with more privacy.
I didn’t end up choosing a condo with patio door on the main floor- I had visions of waking up in the middle of the night and worrying about a home invasion, or someone breaking through the patio door.
Of course, location is important too.
Is the neighbourhood safe?
Would you feel safe walking late at night?
Is it safe to throw away the garbage- will you feel safe throwing out the garbage by yourself late at night? These seemingly mundane and trivial considerations aren’t so trivial when it’s 11pm on a Friday night and you’re scared to throw away garbage in the alleyway in your pyjamas.
Think About Your 5 Year Plan
As mentioned above, you really don’t know what the next five years might bring you, especially if you are in your early 30’s or late 20’s.
So much changes and can happen in five years.
Five years ago, I was still single.
Five years later, I’m married and have a toddler and another baby on the way!
Therefore, since there is so much unknown, it is best to choose a condo with financing and other options where you won’t be so tied down. There are shorter term mortgages available if you plan to sell after the term ends.
I have a friend who bought a one bedroom condo and the started dating a nice man, now she rents out her condo to a couple with a rabbit. My friend moved into her boyfriend’s rental apartment and is happy that her strata was so flexible about switching her condo to a rental.
Related: Should You Rent or Sell Your Condo?
Don’t be Cash Strapped
Remember, it will be just you paying for the mortgage, the maintenance fee, the assessments, home insurance, the property taxes, and utilities. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Don’t be cash strapped. Even though the number is something like not spending more than 32% of your salary on shelter, I would recommend trying to aim for even lower than that.
This is the key to preparing for your future potential motherhood penalty.
The feeling of not ‘drowning’ in mortgage payments is very freeing. Even better, knowing that you can pay off your mortgage if you wanted to is even more freeing. This allowed me to travel to many places while owning a home, including an unforgettable 1 month long trip to Africa that cost over $5000 because I wasn’t paying an arm and a leg for my mortgage.
Rate Supermarket states single ladies are seen as a higher risk when signing up for a mortgage because there aren’t two people co-signing a loan. They recommend getting a pre-approval while you are shopping for your new home. Having a pre-approval in place was also helpful and I definitely felt less stressed while hunting for a new home.
Related: Square One Insurance Review
If you’re interested in getting passive income from rental property, using addy to invest in commercial real estate is a viable option. You can invest with $1 or $1500 per addy property. This eliminates the headache of being a rental property owner.
Flexibility of Strata Rules
Tying into your 5 year plan, you’ll want to look at how flexible Strata is when it comes to rental rules. For example, you should inquire whether the condo of interest allows rentals. Sometimes strata buildings are very strict and don’t allow rentals at all or they only allow rentals to 10 units in the building. This is important because if you in the future you end up moving out and don’t want to sell, at least you will be able to rent it out. A unit that has no restrictions on rentals is also valuable and desired when you are thinking of selling too.
In addition to rentals, is the unit strict with pets and children? Some places don’t allow pets at all or they only allow one pet. Some places don’t allow children at all. The more flexibility the strata bylaws are, the more flexible your future might be. For example, it would not be beneficial if you were forced to sell your condo during the a housing market slump.
Think Worst Case Scenario
Think about the worst case scenario. No one wants to think about the worst case scenario, but it is helpful. If you are carrying the mortgage by yourself, and your assets do not outweigh your liabilities (e.g. you aren’t able to pay off your mortgage with your investments or cash savings), then you would need to look into a type of insurance, like term insurance should anything happen to you. Disability insurance is also important to consider in case you are unable to work and therefore unable to pay for the mortgage.
Also, you need to think whether you need to get mortgage insurance or another type of insurance.
The Noise Factor
Finally, there’s a difference between wood and concrete buildings. We live in a wood building and you can hear the neighbours put their phone on the coffee table and sometimes hear them sneeze. Yup, that’s how thin the walls are. I think if I were to do it all over again, I would focus on finding a condo that was a concrete building. Concrete buildings are usually more expensive though.
There were countless nights where I hear my neighbours blaring music and I can’t sleep or I worry about my baby waking up because of the blaring music. That’s all part of apartment living, I suppose.
Hopefully these 6 tips will help you on your search on how to buy a condo for the first time.
There seems to be oversupply of homes as of late, so this may be a good sign that the condo market is becoming more reasonable for first time home buyers.
Buying a house as a single woman may be daunting at first, but you’ll be glad you made the decision because we can only live in the present, not worry about the future that may or may not happen.
When you live for the present and have gratitude for what you have created, more positive things will come to you, and maybe the family you dreamed of having will happen quicker than you thought!
You might also be interested in:
- Calculating Return on Investment of Your Primary Residence
- Closing Costs when Selling a Home in BC
- Properly Review
- Building a House on a Budget
- 1% Realty Reviews
- Are nano brows worth it?
Do you have any other tips for single females interested in buying a home?
GYM is a 30 something millennial interested in achieving financial freedom through disciplined saving, dividend and ETF investing, and living a minimalist lifestyle. Before you go, check out my recommendations page of financial tools I use to save and invest money. Don’t forget to subscribe for blog updates, a free dividend yield spreadsheet, and the free Young Money Bootcamp eCourse.