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Single Women and Home Buying

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Since graduating from high school, Alicia Ingram had a goal: to purchase her own home. “I was taught that having a home was a stepping stone to financial security,” says the twenty-eight-year-old Atlantan, who owns her own public relations and consulting company.

In 2005, Ingram decided it was time to realize her dream. She left her rented apartment, moved into her father’s vacation home in the suburbs and started saving. Within a year, she grew her business and saved about $10,000. It was time.

But was it? Where was the husband, the kids?

Actually, who needs ’em?

Within the last few years, single women like Ingram have been buying homes at record rates nationwide. From July 2005 to June 2006, 1.76 million single women purchased a home, comprising 22 percent of the market, up from 14 percent a decade ago, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Why? Single women are educated, earning big bucks, and recognizing real estate as a solid investment. “I wanted my home to be good business decision,” she says. “I was looking at it as an investment as well. I wanted it to have good resale potential.”

Ingram did her homework by researching various mortgages, talking to realtors and others in the industry, and enlisting a friend who is an underwriter for a mortgage broker. She created a list of features she wanted in a home: new construction, close to downtown Atlanta and shopping, three bedrooms and a garage. She found all that in a friend’s neighborhood, a new development close to the Atlanta airport. In February 2006, Ingram closed on a three-bedroom, two-and-a- half-bath house, purchased for close to $200,000. “I love it,” she says. “Every day, I think it was a good decision.”

Owning her own home has given Ingram a sense of independence, she says. “Every single person has to have a time in their lives when they’re able to hold their own,” Ingram says, adding that she plans to acquire more real estate. “For me, the thought of waiting until I get married to own property never occurred to me.”

She has tips for single women looking to buy:

• Think about what you can afford. “I qualified for way more than what I actually purchased,” Ingram explains. “You may qualify for a million-dollar home but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can afford the mortgage and all the expenses.”

• Take your time. “My process was a little rushed,” she admits. “I was really anxious. I think I made the right decision but don’t rush even though everyone will want you to.”

• Be willing to walk away. Ingram got the best deal on a mortgage when she told the broker, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

• Do your homework. Ingram researched various financing options and enlisted friends and her mother, who has purchased several homes.

Looking back, Ingram admits buying a house on her own was scary. “It’s the biggest investment I’ve made to date,” she says. But there’s nothing like achieving a goal, and enjoying it on your own little bit of land. 

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