Becoming a Vancouver Homeowner – A First Time Guide for Single Parents

Being a single parent is never easy and housing is one of the big issues facing many one-parent families.  The cost of homes in Vancouver is ever buoyant and the finding the cash to buy is one of the biggest obstacles for those bringing up children alone.  However, even in an expensive market, home-ownership is still a dream that can become reality.   In this quick guide we look at how you can make that dream come true and provide a stable home for your family.  

Finances First

Check you're credit score, as this is one of the biggest factors that will determine which mortgage you can get – and importantly what rate you may be charged.  Credit scores range from 300 – 900 and the higher your score the less “risk” you pose to lenders.  If your score is currently low it is worth taking time to improve it – the best credit scores will get you the lowest payments on your mortgage.  Credit bureaus such as Equifax or Transunion can provide your credit score but if work with a mortgage advisor you may be able to reduce the cost of finding your curent score.

Budgeting is important for anybody looking to buy a home, and perhaps more so for single parents.  Work out your current liabilities – credit cards, secured or non-secured loans, student loans, car payments and running costs.  Once you have a comprehensive break-down of your monthly costs you can begin to work out what you can afford to pay each month on a mortgage.  

When looking for mortgage products, consider those that allow longer terms – a 30 year term can be suitable for many single parents and it will bring the monthly cost down in the short term.  Many lenders will be willing to offer this type of product for single parent families (or single individuals) but check on up-front costs and compare deals.  

Finances – Benefits

Single parent families are eligible for a range of government benefits – in recognition of the specific financial issues that single parent families face.  Before considering buying a home ensure that you are receiving every possible form of financial help that is available to you.  

The most likely sources of government help include:  

Eligible Dependent Benefit;  

Working Income Tax Benefit

Canada Child Tax Benefit (possibly including Child Disability Benefit, if applicable)

Employment Insurance Family Supplement (eligibility depends on receipt of Canada Child Tax Benefit).

Some of these benefits will be automatically paid to qualifying individuals but, to be sure you are in receipt of everything that you are entitled to, check with the Government of Canada Family Benefits website.  

Choosing a Home

When it comes to choosing a home, finding the right one for your family is essential – a fact that applies to any family, whatever their make-up.  For single parent families the same options will exist as for other families, single family homes, multi family homes (duplex) or condos.  

Vancouver condos offer an interesting option for many single parent families.  With condo ownership you get all the benefits of owning your own home, but without the extra hassle of maintenance.  Whether it's landscaping, roofing or even snow removal, most condo buildings delegate these responsibilities to the management structure.  For single parent families, in particular, this can bring added peace of mind and is a huge saving on time (something every parent is short of!).  Maintenance fees will be payable for these services – usually monthly – so don't forget to factor these into your budget when searching for homes in Vancouver.  

When selecting a condo building, parents should pay close attention to additional facilities (clubs, crèches, fitness suites – all of which can save yet more time) and also location in terms of proximity to schools, family friendly attractions or parks and open spaces.  Owning your own condo in Vancouver, or any other type of family home, is possible for most single parent families, with some careful planning and attention to your finances!

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