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Previously considered nontraditional buyers, single people now account for 24 percent of home purchasers. The decision to own alone crosses all age groups from young, first-timers to a growing number from the 55-and-over category. Women make up the majority of each category. The trend is expected to lead to more than 41 million single-person homeowners by 2030. It's being fueled, in part, by the growing number of surviving spouses in older age groups, as well as the sense of empowerment a home represents to many prospective clients.

With rents rising, clients view the economic benefits of home owning as an investment in themselves and their financial future. Regardless of how prospective clients enter the market, buying while single requires some added insight for meeting the needs of this diverse group of individuals. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you begin to work with more of these clients.

Working with Single Homebuyers

  • Think beyond location-think proximity. Single clients tend to look for greater life efficiencies. They want to be near the things they spend their time on: work, friends, entertainment, and health care. When showing them homes, apps like AroundMe and Walk Score can help you provide a better idea of how close they are to the services and amentities in which they are interested. While school information will still be important to single parents among your clients, you may want to do some legwork on the before- and after-school activities they will probably need to rely on as well.
  • Consider that smaller tends to be bigger with this market. Maintaining a property may be more of a challenge when the full responsibility falls on one person. Clients may need you to remind and educate them on this point and help them understand how homeowner and condo association fees may alleviate property upkeep responsibilities.
  • Promote the inspection as a good learning opportunity. Encourage your clients to make the most of the inspection. This is especially useful if they have not owned before or previously depended on someone else to keep their home running. The time spent shadowing the inspector enables them to become familiar with the home. More than helping them fine-tune the sales contract and ask for concessions, the inspection can help your client pull together a to-do list and begin budgeting for it before moving in...not to mention learn how to adjust the thermostat.
  • Express patience, practice understanding, and be a resource. Many single clients, especially the first-timers or those who only recently returned to a single status, may require a bit more hand-holding. They mainly need someone who understands more than the price range for a neighborhood or what homes "cost" after they are purchased. They need the kind of honest, upfront guidance that will let them embrace the next phase of their lives with confidence.

Being able to cultivate a reputation for leading single clients toward sound housing arrangements, while fueling a sense of empowerment, can help provide a steady flow of new prospects looking ofr similar support and direction.