With Australian property prices some of the highest in the world, buying a house is increasingly out of reach for many people. And given it’s a tough ask for those in a relationship, the path to property ownership seems laden with obstacles for the single among us. “Starting a portfolio is never easy no matter who you are but as single women, we must be extra cautious, motivated and pragmatic when it comes to building a killer portfolio,” says Rebecca Jarrett-Dalton, the founder of mortgage brokerage company Two Red Shoes.
A veritable minefield, you may be struggling to even start, which is where Rebecca’s expert advice comes in. “You deserve your place in the world of property owners. These seven tips should help you get you into gear to start that portfolio and, soon enough, you’ll be popping the champagne in a brand new house!” says Rebecca.
Find an adviser that will you pay attention to you!
Personally I find it a little depressing that women are still having to prove themselves in this realm, but Rebecca warns that old habits (or prejudices) die hard. “Sadly, many women mention that they are overlooked or ignored yet women are often the key financial decision-makers. And this is obviously even more so when they are single,” says Rebecca.
“If you suggest something and you’re told no, ask why. It is your right to ask questions because it is your investment! If an advisor gives you an answer that seems glib or dismissive, go somewhere else. You don’t have to deal with condescension,” says Rebecca. Look for an advisor that listens, takes your ideas on board and offers constructive criticism too.
Reduce unnecessary credit & spending
When going for a loan, lenders will forensically examine your spending habits when summing up whether you’re a liability or not. Just recently I heard of one major bank that will deem a person irresponsible with money if they see Uber Eats on their bank statement (guilty as charged!).
“Lenders are looking at your spending habits when considering your affordability. Reducing your credit limits and repaying any unnecessary debt before you start makes you more attractive to a lender. Fixing your spending habits before you start a portfolio will improve your cashflow moving forward too,” says Rebecca.
Make decisions with your head (not heart)
This can be a tough one for women — particularly as we’re prone to nesting and that in itself often imbues the purchase of a property with layers of emotion.
“Being a forward thinker is a necessity when starting a portfolio that is going to have long-term growth. Remember your own taste will likely change, and trends are as unsettled as the wind. While buying that cute cottage may make your heart sing, you need to think; will it attract the right tenant or any tenant at all? Will it suit your longer-term goals?” says Rebecca.
You should also try to avoid high-maintenance properties or ones with unique features in order to increase the property’s buyer appeal down the line. “Always opt for the future rather than what your heart desires now,” says Rebecca.
Buy the best you can afford
Moving house is an expensive pursuit when you consider removalist fees and stamp duty (amongst many more hidden costs), so buying the best property you can afford helps to future-proof your purchase.
“The cost of changing over property is too much. You need to buy the place that you will be happy to live in for long enough to justify the costs of moving. Consider that moving is an exercise that costs upwards of $50,000 by the time you pay agents fees and the stamp duty again. Ensure the home you are about to buy is worth it,” says Rebecca.
Keep your budget in mind
The cost of day to day living can be surprisingly high, when you factor in all of life’s expenses. But one of the worst things you can do is remain ignorant to your spending habits — if you’re across them, you can make sensible decisions and avoid panic.
“The ‘single tax’ is one to watch, given that the cost of utilities and rates is more or less the same for you alone as it is for a couple. This means you’re already under the pump from the beginning. Make life easier for yourself by working out your average spending and your net income. If there isn’t any surplus, you’ll know that you need to make some adjustments to the budget,” says Rebecca.
Build a safety net
You’ve heard the cliche about putting something away for a rainy day? Well this is even more important if you’re single and only have yourself to fall back on. “Consider putting money away in your home loan if it has a redraw facility, or an offset account to save interest while you wait for financial disaster. Another great way to stay ahead is to pay a little onto your bills with each pay,” says Rebecca who explains that a good financial adviser should be able to help you manage this.
You don’t need the latest, greatest, shiny new thing
“Need is a strong word. It is important to separate your needs and desires if you want to build capital,” says Rebecca whose own home is filled with hand me downs and old furniture.
“You may be surprised to hear that I don’t have a new lounge – it’s more than 20 years old but it’s fine because it still works perfectly. Although I might desire all-new furniture, my goal remains on the property. If your goal is focused on the right things, you won’t worry about the age of your lounge suite.”