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Ask Chuck: Single and ready to buy a house

Ask Chuck your money question

Dear Chuck,

I’m single and have saved enough money to buy a house and have a sizable emergency fund for any surprise repairs. Do you consider this a good time to enter the real estate market? 

Single Home Buyer 

housing
A new residential home is shown under construction in Carlsbad, California September 19, 2011. U.S. homebuilder sentiment dipped in September with an industry index mired in a low range as the housing market continues to struggle, the National Association of Home Builders said on Monday. |

Dear Single Home Buyer, 

Reuters released an article on February 24 on the rise of the solo American homebuyer, which highlighted Bank of America’s recent survey of potential buyers. Results showed that singles do not want to delay a home purchase.

Kathy Cummings, a Bank of America senior VP, relates: “9 out of 10 single women dismiss the idea of being married before buying a home. They see that as old-fashioned thinking.” In addition, the article noted: 

  • They are putting off marriage and children.
  • Singles comprise a growing population.
  • Single by choice has become more socially acceptable.
  • Single women have more financial resources.

Considerations on buying a home

The higher your credit score, the better opportunity you have to lock into a good mortgage rate.

Get pre-approved so you can act quickly when the right house becomes available. I recommend a minimum 20% down payment so you can avoid private mortgage insurance. 

When budgeting the cost of buying a home, include insurance, property taxes, utilities, repairs, maintenance, HOA fees, landscape, trash pickup, appliances, window coverings, furniture, renovations, etc. 

In purchasing a home, you lose flexibility but gain fixed costs and equity. A roommate can help with bills. Do you think you will stay put for a while, or is there a chance you will have to relocate? If relocation is a possibility, would you sell, or could you rent the home? 

When Jesus taught a crowd about the cost of discipleship, He gave the example of building a tower. First, sit down and calculate the cost to complete it (Luke 14:28-30). Everyone who contemplates buying a house must do the same. 

Interest rates

The national average 30-year fixed mortgage rate on Tuesday, March 1, 2022, was 4.30%, an increase of 8 basis points from the previous week. The national average 15-year fixed mortgage rate was 3.5%. The national average 30-year fixed refinance rate was 4.23%, while the 15-year fixed refinance rate was 3.49%. 

Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at bankrate.com, recently stated, “Although the national average on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage is above 4%, plenty of sub-4% rates are available for borrowers that shop around. Conducting an online search can save thousands of dollars by finding lenders offering a lower rate and more competitive fees.” 

McBride recommends steering clear of adjustable-rate mortgages for now. He says, “While rapidly rising mortgage rates may temper the demand somewhat, don’t expect home price appreciation to come to a halt. A more modest pace of appreciation is the likelier outcome.” 

Check bankrate.com for the latest rates and offers below the national average. 

Is now the time? 

Many are asking, is now the time? From a personal standpoint, you need to consider if you are financially stable and ready to lock into a mortgage, with no guarantee that the home will retain its value over 15–30 years. Is your career inflation-proof? Can you afford a plumber or electrician, or can you make repairs? If you are okay financially, remember we are in the midst of the lowest inventories of available homes in decades. 

In today’s market, depending on the state that you are in, you may have to consider how high you are willing to bid on a home. One of our staff members placed an offer on a home in February that was 15% higher than the listing price! The seller received better offers than theirs, so they were not able to purchase the home they really wanted. 

It was not very long ago, during the Great Recession (2008-2009), that people were contacting us for help after the value of their home dropped below the amount they had financed to purchase it! It was a painful and devastating time as many families experienced foreclosure. 

Only God knows the future. I surely do not. If you believe you are ready for the responsibility of homeownership, there are many advantages, not the least of which is benefiting from building equity and from inflation. Using the qualifying questions above, it can be a blessing. Pray for wisdom and seek wise counsel before you enter into a contract for purchase. Be patient. Allow the Lord to guide you to the home that is best for you. Thanks for the question. 

In the meantime, if you find yourself needing help with credit card debt, Christian Credit Counselors is a trusted source of support. They specialize in assisting people with getting out of debt and on the road to financial freedom.

Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, a global Christian ministry, founded by the late Larry Burkett. He is the host of a daily radio broadcast, My MoneyLife, featured on more than 1,000 Christian Music and Talk stations in the U.S., and author of his most recent book, Seven Gray Swans: Trends that Threaten Our Financial Future. Be sure to follow Crown on Facebook.

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