By Shep Saltzman + Barbara Balsamo, Brokers
Owners, Realty Investment Company
While research shows that the number of women buying homes dipped a bit last year (to 18%), for decades the upward trend has been quite impressive.
In 1981, six years after the Equal Credit Opportunity Act made it illegal for lenders to discriminate according to sex or marital status, single women represented 11 percent of all homebuyers. That figure peaked at 22 percent in 2006.
Although it has been impacted by a weak economy in recent years, women continue to out-buy homes as compared to single men, who have held steady at around 10 percent of all buyers.
What’s more, the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard tells us that over a three-year period in the early 2000s, the value of single women’s home purchases added up to more than $550 billion.
Research also tells us the top three reasons unmarried and single women choose to buy versus rent:
- A strong desire for ownership.
- The need for more space—or in some cases they are downsizing and want smaller home.
- And, women on the management track (read more about that here) simply relocate for a job, or want to have a shorter commute so they can be more efficient with their time.
What does the future hold?
While buyers now still face tighter credit standards, and are typically only buyers with the very best credit—often without financing—upwardly mobile women will likely continue buying homes.
As demographics of buyers change, the home search process shifts as well.
So if you are a woman buying a home for the first time, keep these important tips in mind.
5 Rules for What First-Time Buyers Need Watch Out for
1. Check for water damage and mold. Those are the worst problems, and the extent of them is hard to determine. The basement or lower level is where the most obvious signs are—and distressed properties and vacant houses are the most likely to have water damage and mold.
2. Check the foundation for any problems. Telltale signs of this issue include floors that are not level, vertical cracks on any walls (especially the exterior walls), and doors that do not easily open and close.
3. Check the slope. Make sure the lot is one that slightly slopes away from the house and does not slope towards the house. Note: If the lot slopes towards the house, it is likely to have a wet basement and that is how water damage and mold can get started.
4. Make sure the big-ticket items have been replaced recently. Or, plan for their replacement—including the roof, heat, air conditioning, windows, siding, flooring. And be sure you know approximately what the cost will be to replace them.
5. Closing costs can be a killer. So make sure you know what the closing costs are associated with your loan. These should be disclosed by the lender in detail—both the total monthly payment as well as the cash needed for settlement.
About Shep Saltzman and Barbara Balsamo
Shep Saltzman has been working in the real estate industry since 1985. He began his career at the Mortgage Investment Corporation, where he became a partner and worked until 1999 when the firm merged with Access National Bank (now Access National Mortgage). He also worked as a real estate agent with RE/MAX before becoming a loan officer and consultant with 12th Street Mortgage, which specializes in conventional, FHA, and VA residential loans.
In 1993, Saltzman and his wife, Barbara Balsamo, co-founded the Realty Investment Company. He is the principal broker, and the couple specializes in representing buyers and sellers of residential real estate throughout Northern Virginia. For more information visit www.realtyinvestmentcompany.com.