One Tough Mother: How Single Mothers are Defining the Homebuying Process

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Desirée Patno is the CEO and President of Women in the Housing and Real Estate Ecosystem (NAWRB) and Desirée Patno Enterprises, Inc. (DPE). With almost three decades specializing in the Housing and Real Estate Ecosystem, she leads her executive team’s expertise of championing women’s economic growth and independence.

June is National Homeownership Month. This article is part of an ongoing series focusing on aspects of women’s homeownership.

“Despite the stereotypes that insist women care more about marriage than men do, it may actually be the single life that women embrace more than men,” says Professor Bella DePaulo, social scientist, author, and expert on elective single life, going on to say that unmarried women may be likelier than men to create a lifestyle around singledom.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, single women have outpaced men in homeownership since 1986. By and large, college-educated women who have delayed marriage have greater buying power and overall financial independence.

Single or not, with children or without, what are the driving forces behind women’s homeownership?

In our research we found women seek homeownership for these primary reasons:

As a “Sanctuary”
A sanctuary is defined as a place of refuge, an oasis or a retreat. Women value creating a unique space from which to retreat from the outside world—one in which they control the climate, the decor, the layout. One’s home is a psychology of space.

Pride in Accomplishment
Owning home cements one’s professional progress and helps lay an economic foundation for years to come. Many women have overcome obstacles such as increased student loan debt (in comparison to men) and pervasive workplace gender gap to achieve homeownership. It’s an accomplishment not taken lightly.

Providing a Stable Home for Children
More women than men are single parents, and these women, with the interests of their children in mind, are likely, if able, to seek homeownership to provide stability and pass on future wealth to their children.

Homebuying Process for Single Mothers
Single mothers who own or seek to own homes are tenacious: often they are working on a limited income and must make more sacrifices to save money for a down payment and related housing costs.

They are looking for a property they can afford for the long term as, by and large, single mothers seek stability. They are unlikely to be house flippers.

Single mothers seek homes in supportive, stable communities with low crime rates and good schools. They want homes that make them feel safe and, consequently, may be greater attracted to homes with smart technology.

Resources for Single Mothers
No matter how financially independent or emotionally sturdy, single mothers can benefit from resources and programs to help them leverage buying power.

Some of the state and local resources we’ve found to be most beneficial to single mothers are:

The FHA offers programs for first-time buyers, or those who haven’t purchased in three years (helpful, perhaps in a divorce) with some loans requiring as little as a 3.5 percent down payment.

Local and state resources
Many state and local communities offer government programs for low-to-moderate income buyers. You can search a down payment resource index to find a program in your area. The states with the most programs include California (380); Florida (238); Texas (181); and Maryland (84). The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has an online directory to pinpoint resources by state.

Some first-time homebuyers, including single mothers, including single mothers, can qualify for tax credits through state and local governments to offset mortgage interest if income qualifications are met.

IDAS help people earning no more than 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Income Level save for a home down payment by matching their savings. These organizations are an incredible way for lower-income single mothers to work towards homeownership. Savings can be as low as $25 and can be matched as high as an 8:1 ratio.

Niche Loans
Sometimes loans are available for a particular occupational or educational demographic like union members or veterans. Search for these loans within professional groups associated with your niche.

The pull to own a home is especially intense for women seeking to create a sanctuary for themselves, and stability for their children, that it leads them to make sacrifices and attempt to make smart decisions when buying a home. Many women may not know about resources out there to help them in their home buying process, so share this with a single mother you know on the path to homeownership.

Having access to the right information could make a huge difference in her life.

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