What Does a first-time home buyer look like? A couple—usually a straight couple—or a bachelor, if the images we see on sleek real estate websites are to be believed. But recently, realtors around Philadelphia have been noticing a sea change. Single women in their twenties and thirties and groups of young female friends are buying houses now more than ever before, representing a revolution of nontraditional home buyers.
Melani Lamond, a realtor with Urban & Bye who has served the University City/West Philadelphia market for more than 30 years, first noticed the change a few years ago. She estimates that about one third of her clients fall into this new group of home seekers.
“These buyers have finished with school and started their careers, and they don’t want to keep paying rent,” says Lamond. “They see relatively affordable houses—which they can share with friends for now, to help pay the mortgages—so they go ahead and buy.”
But buying a home—especially one that needs work—can be a challenge, especially for unpartnered women in the still male-dominated world of real estate and contracting. We caught up with a few such people to gather some tips for other potential nontraditional homebuyers who may be thinking of purchasing a home:
- Own that you—yes, you—are the boss, says Lauren Genovesi, who bought her Port Richmond fixer-upper in 2016. “I have had to stay on top of a lot of people at a supervising level. That does not come naturally tome.”
- Reach out to friends with expertise, says Sonia Williams, who bought a condo in University City. “I would have paid [skilled pals] to be present during a few key interactions with my contractor so that I would have been spoken to more honestly and fairly.” This is where buying with a group of friends, not in a romantic relationship, can come in handy. Double those connections.
- And I’ll add just two pearls of wisdom from my own experience, says Emma Eisenberg, author of this article, who bought a home in Cobbs Creek in 2015: Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions during the buying process. It’s more important to understand than it is bad to look dumb. And get a good therapist before you buy. You’ll need one later.
RECOMMENDED: Need a place to stay when you’re in between renting and buying? Check out these cool Airbnb Philadelphia rentals.