February 1, 2018 | Single Person
When I decided to buy my first property, I was single. I considered a condo, but instead I decided to purchase a semi-detached, Leslieville house split up into a duplex. This was at a time when Leslieville was much easier for first-time buyers to buy fixer uppers on their own. I would live in one unit and rent out the other. I would use the rent to help fund the mortgage and fixes around the house. At the time, I didn’t put much thought into the fact that I was single when I did the transaction, but looking back, I do think my single-hood did have some influence on my approach to real estate at the time.
With that said, I thought I could offers some advice for all the singles out there. It’s a guide of sorts to buying real estate as a single person. This advice is based on my experience when I was single and buying/owning real estate, and my experience working with many shrewd singles now and in the past. So, without further ado, here is my guide for singles:
- STOP WAITING FOR LIFE TO START: I am a little embarrassed to admit this, but even when I bought my first place, I thought: “Should I buy this house? What if I meet someone next month? Then buying a property would be something completely different if someone else was involved. Maybe I should wait…” For some singles, I think a mindset can develop that they should wait to buy property, or wait to move forward until they meet their significant other. Despite the many ways people live nowadays, some of us still look to move along the comfortable trajectory of falling in love, getting married, buying a house and having kids. It feels less stressful to follow a predictable order for some of us. Over time we learn, though, that things don’t happen so predictably, on time or in order. Even if you fall into the traditional trajectory, it is extremely beneficial to own a condo as a single person first in Toronto. In my experience, the most successful real estate couples are the ones who have both bought properties when they were single. When they both sell their two condos to buy one house, they have much more equity for their next purchase.
- KNOW THY RISKS: When you buy a property on your own, it’s just you. There are some really good things about that. You get to make all the choices -the location, the decor, everything! No compromise (within budget). The risk comes with the fact that it’s just you. So, if you were to lose your job, you can’t fall back on your partner to carry you for a few months until you get another job. So try to have a little extra nest egg just in case you need it for a rainy day. If you don’t have a nest egg, you could consider a roommate for extra cash. You just want to think about that backup plan if things were to go south.
- CHOOSE YOUR AREA WISELY: Listen, I don’t think you need to be at all all-singles condo where no kids are allowed, but you don’t want to stranded at a transit-unfriendly suburb that takes hours to reach somewhere you may see another human being in a social setting (this excludes the checkout at Costco). One of the benefits of being single is the time you have to socialize with other human beings. So, make sure you are in a place you can maximize your singleness and you’ll feel comfortable. You want to live in a place where meeting for brunch or going to your aqua-fit class or a coffee is easy, and does not require hours of moving across the city. If it’s too hard to get there, you won’t leave your home in the winter.
- KNOW WHAT KIND OF SINGLE YOU ARE: Some singles are very homey. They love to invite friends and family to dinner and have a circus unfold around them. They like to have people around all the time. They like to live in big houses and use their back yards. Others like to travel and explore and learn. They see their home as a base to return to between visits. Obviously these two singles are going to need two very different properties. If you know what kind of single you are, you’ll buy the right property. If you’re not sure, then see my next point.
- BRING A BUDDY: Bring a friend or family member along for property viewings. They will know you well, and guide you in the right direction. It’s always good to have someone around for a second opinion. As a single, you reserve the right to reject that opinion entirely, but at least you heard another point of view.
At this particular moment in time, singles carry some pretty impressive numbers, particularly single women. They are one of the largest growing buyer demographics in Canada right now. So you’re in good company. In fact, as of the last census, there are currently more single people living in Canada than ever before. Though most singles buy property on their own, I am seeing more creative purchasing going on among single friends. It is very easy to be single nowadays, particularly in a city like Toronto. I can’t promise Aunt NosyPants won’t keep asking why you don’t have a boyfriend or a girlfriend, but I can say there are many singles out there, of all ages. In fact, at some point in our lives, most of us will be single for a period of time. And we may be making real estate decision as a single person.