SINGLE women are proving to be the new breed of first home buyers (FHB), ably assisted by higher incomes in an evolving workplace and supportive families.
Gen Ys in particular are taking the plunge into the real estate market with the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute’s (AHURI) 2010, Changing Patterns of Home Ownership, bulletin revealing home ownership rates for singles aged 25-44 improved by 8.1 per cent between 1996-2006.
Having saved for five years for her dream home and done plenty of research on the subject, little deters or daunts 26-year-old Rebecca Willis, including the fact that she’s single.
While Miss Willis deals with homes every day as part of her work as a real estate agent, she admits things are a little “hairier” for single FHBs.
“The accountants and financial planners I’ve talked to are all sure I can buy a home on my own but banks do seem to prefer couples over singles,” Miss Willis said.
“As a single, it’s not just about having a good deposit – you need to show banks you’ve got the goods and have what it takes.
“As a single FHB, I also know it’s important to have income protection and insurance and to think everything through very carefully before buying.
“It’s not enough just to save willy nilly – you need to have good advice from professionals and a supportive network.”
Place Annerley agent Tristan Rowland said 50-60 per cent of his FHB clientele were singles with the majority of these people being gen Y girls.
“This could be because boys don’t want to settle down as early as girls.
“There is also a lot more parental influence on girls to settle down.
“About 30 per cent of my female FHBs are bankrolled by mum and dad.”
Mr Rowland said the dramatic change in banks’ lending criteria during the past five to 10 years plus the changes to first-home buyer grants were just some of the challenges FHBs faced.
“Singles also have only one income stream to rely on so they are effectively putting all their eggs in one basket,” he said.
“They also have only one voice of reason to listen to when buying their first home.
“Talking to a good broker, doing research on preferred properties and the surrounding areas, and using good solicitors and building inspectors will help.”
With 40 per cent of her client database single, Brisbane-based Mortgage Choice broker Caroline Jean-Baptiste is well aware of the different challenges facing these people.
But it was a lack of confidence, rather than finances, that held most singles back from the real estate market.
“Most singles find it’s not too much of a stretch to actually buy a home but single women in particular lack confidence and most would prefer to wait for someone to buy a home with them,” Mrs Jean-Baptiste said.
“For single men, it’s the small sacrifices that all potential home buyers have to make that hurt the most, such as not going out with their mates for a drink.”
While there are plenty of pros and cons when buying a home as a single person, Mrs Jean-Baptiste said she had seen plenty of singles succeed in the real estate market.
“A positive for single FHBs is that they’re in full control of their decision and can buy something that suits their lifestyle,” she said.
“Plus if singles do find a partner, they can rent out their single home or sell it.
“And while singles will need good income protection insurance and can’t split mortgage repayments, they can always rent out one of their rooms.”
Mrs Jean-Baptiste said her single clients had varying degrees of confidence but she hated to see people waiting to make a firm decision on buying a home.
“I’m a great believer in getting into the market when you can,” she said.
“If you’re single and waiting around for a partner, you could miss out on a great opportunity in the marketplace.
“You don’t necessarily have to earn a lot of money to buy a house – make some small sacrifices, get a guarantor, chat to plenty of different people and stretch yourself a little.
“With a sensible approach, anyone can buy a home.”
Despite the challenges, Miss Willis is determined to plough on and achieve her dream of buying a home.
With her career including a new move to Agnes Water, between Bundaberg and Gladstone, her hopes for a small brick home with good bones and a view of the beach could also come true sooner than expected.
“The only thing that’s been holding me back is trying to decide where to buy but I think Agnes Water could be the right place,” she said.
“I’m not looking to get rich in property – I just want to set myself up so I’m not working like mad when I’m 65.
“And I prefer to buy a home myself so I can look after me, no matter what happens.”
“Girls are way ahead of boys when it comes to buying real estate,” Mr Rowland said.
From – The Sunday Mail (Qld)