Home ownership remains a goal for many couples. But what about the singles who dream of it as well?

According to Zillow, saving for a down payment is no walk in the park for future home buying couples, but an even more challenging prospect to singles, for whom it may take up to 11 years to save up for a down payment for a typical U.S. home (even longer in pricey markets). This is more than twice the time it takes a married or partnered couple.

Statistics show nationally that fewer than half (45 percent) of all U.S. homes are affordable for credit qualified single buyers. Couples, by contrast, could afford 82 percent of all homes. Banks are not allowed to discriminate based on marital status, but tighter lending standards can potentially pose a challenge to single buyers because they only have their own income to qualify for a loan.

So how can the average single person make home ownership a reality? According to a Money Magazine article on the topic, there are a few questions singles should ask themselves to make this process more manageable. First, they should scrutinize their finances carefully and evaluate whether buying a home is even feasible, especially since they won't have help from a partner to pay the bills or make a mortgage payment. Taking steps like reviewing their credit reports and cleaning up any mistakes as well as paying down debt (including student loans) can go a long way to being prepared to take the monumental step of applying for a mortgage.

He or she should also consider the recurring expenses associated with home ownership beyond the purchase price and mortgage closing costs. This may include association fees, property taxes, utilities and lawn care, as well as insurance. Even for couples, these things are often not considered seriously enough when taking on a mortgage, finding them giving up a lot of the things they used to love doing and enjoying because they have suddenly become house poor. This means singles should probably have an even bigger savings account than couples, according to many sources, since unexpected expenses will rely on just one income and the retention of one job. A simple case of bathroom mold can soak a new condo owner to the tune of $10,000 if the place needs to be gutted and remodeled.

If a single (especially a single parent) finds it difficult to come up with the entire down payment or qualify for a conventional mortgage, there are maybe income-restricted loan programs that offer down payment assistance in many states and locales. Home ownership is still within reach for singles, but it's important to note that they have a somewhat steeper hill to climb to get the keys to that shiny new front door.

 

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