Buying a home on your own

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Everybody should experience the freedom and independence that comes from living alone at some point in their life. Sure, roommates are fun and it’s wonderful to share a space with other people, but have you ever come home to an empty place—your stuff exactly where you left it? Your groceries uneaten in the fridge? Your decision alone what to watch before being able to starfish in bed?

For some people the decision to live alone can come with its own set of challenges, but just because you live alone doesn’t mean you’re destined to rent for the rest of your life (unless that’s what you’re into).

We talked to Joline credit union expert and solo homebuyer—on what to think about when you want to buy a home on your own.

Have “the talk”.

Whether you have a down payment saved and are ready to pull the trigger on getting a mortgage or you’re just starting to think about what you want for the future, Joline’s first piece of advice is to talk to a financial expert about your goals.

“I like to sit down with members and talk to them about their budget and find out generally how much they feel like they could spend comfortably without feeling pinched,” says Joline. “Once I have that general number, we can start to do some math and get a sense of how near or far they may be from their goal.”

The minimum down payment for a home is still 5%—which means between savings, gifts from family, or leveraging an RRSP to take advantage of the Homebuyer’s Plan, you’ll need to have a pretty tidy sum of money to put down before you can even think about whether a condo or a house is what you want.

“If you’re on your own, you might have to scale back the type of home you’re looking for,” notes Joline. “One person living in a 5,000sq ft home maybe doesn’t make the most sense, so it’s about knowing what you want or need.”

Make a budget.

There’s that ‘b’ word again. But setting up and sticking to a budget really is the first step for anything you do, including buying a home—regardless of how many people are chipping in for the down payment.

“I usually ask members to keep track of their spending for two to three months and then go through that information to see what fixed costs and variable costs are like,” says Joline. “I like showing people where their money is going—when you see it for yourself and how it can add up, it makes a difference. I don’t expect people to change their lifestyle drastically, but often we can find really easy ways of scaling back here and there, which can add up fast.”

Believe in yourself.

“I always tell people to believe in themselves. You can do it. It just might not be over night,” says Joline. “There is such a wonderful feeling of independence that comes from buying a property on your own. It makes you feel really strong to know you can take care of yourself.”

Know what your real estate market is like, including the average price of homes in your area. Once you have an idea of the costs, you can take an honest look at your budget and figure out where you might need to make some adjustments or pick up a side hustle for some extra income.

“Whether it’s looking in a slightly different area than you may have considered, finding a way to make some extra income, or adjusting your timeline a little bit,” says Joline. “There are always solutions. I’ve seen the proof in the pudding many times.”

Interested in learning more about how you can make your dream of owning a home on your own a reality? Talk to your local credit union.