Home Ownership and the Single Gal

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FROM THESTREET.COM:


As an engineer, 27-year-old Theresa Gatto admits sometimes she feels like a woman in a man's world.

But as owner of her own home, she's a defined leader of the pack.

The latest records show that when it comes to buying a home -- more power to the ladies. Single women, as a demographic, are the fastest-growing group of home buyers in the U.S. They totaled 22% of all buyers in 2006, according to the National Association of Realtors.

That's up from 14% in 1995. What's more is single women are the second biggest category of buyers behind married couples. Single men represent 9% of all homebuyers.

Manhattan real estate agent Jacky Teplitzky says she's been increasingly working with young, professional women. "I love working with female buyers because they do a lot of homework ahead of time. They know what they want, which areas they want to live," she says.

Particularly with young, professional women these days, who are starting families later on in life, Teplitzky adds that this demographic is generally looking for more stability at an earlier age, relative to its male counterpart.

"[Women] have more special needs," says Teplitzky. "We want to know where our make-up is, where our clothes are, our creams. ... Men, they can crash everywhere. They can sleep on their friends' floor sometimes."

Gatto bought her first house in 2004 for $134,000 in Winston-Salem, N.C., three bedrooms, two baths, a game room and small deck. After relocating for work, she's now living in a bigger house in Loveland, Colo., a 2,400 square-foot home, which cost her $206,000 in 2005.

To finance her latest purchase, she placed 20% down and borrowed $166,000 from the bank with a five-year adjustable-rate mortgage. Her loan payment comes to be about $900 a month.

"I was going to do a seven-year adjustable-rate mortgage, but I wasn't sure I would be living there that long," says Gatto.

A bit of advice for fellow female home buyers, says Gatto, is stay away from very old homes, unless they have the savings to spend on reconstruction, maintenance and upkeep. Theresa's first home was brand new and didn't require fixing up or maintenance. It also came with a one-year warranty.

How did she finance the homes? Theresa's first salary was around $50,000 when she bought her first home and a bit more when she moved to Winston-Salem.

"The biggest thing ... that's helped me," she continues, "is that ever since I started my career, I always put 25% to 30% of my salary in a 'don't touch it' account for a big purchase down the road."

Gatto says she's also not a clothes hound and didn't waste money on clothing. She also hasn't had a car payment since 1999. She's been driving around in her 1995 Ford Escort because for her, wanting to be a home owner at a young age trumped owning a newer vehicle.

Teplitzky says that when it comes to financing their first homes, women tend to be more flexible and creative, by, for example, borrowing money from their 401(k) or asking relatives for help with the down payment.

"What's driving them is the notion that they don't want to be not dependent on anybody else ... and make sure that independence happens on an economic level."

To compare rates and learn more about financing options, check BankingMyWay.com.

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