How single parents can get started 02 April 2012 Being a single parent is a tough job and can really stretch the budget, but that doesn’t mean you can’t buy a home of your own. Many HomeStart customers are single with dependants, showing that with hard work and careful budgeting – plus the right home loan – it is possible to have your own four walls to house your tribe. Here are three tips to help single parents get started on the path to home ownership. 1. Know what counts as income How much you can borrow is usually based on your total income and total debt commitments. Depending on which lender you speak to, this might include Newstart allowance or Austudy. At HomeStart, you may also be able to use parenting related payments such as: Parenting payments Family tax benefit parts A & B Large family and multiple birth allowance Including these payments as part of your total income does come with conditions, such as how many children you have. Maintenance and child support may also be included as income, but there are strict requirements around providing evidence that you receive these payments regularly and on a long term basis. The best way to find out exactly what counts as income in your situation is to contact a loan consultant. They’ll be able to explain the ins and outs of how each type of payment is treated. 2. Decide on your priorities Renting can be hard on families – kids and house inspections don’t always mix well, and knowing you might have to move when a rental agreement expires can erode your sense of security. However, buying a home is a big financial commitment and finding the right place at the right price can be a serious challenge. Many people on a single income looking to buy simply can’t afford a home that ticks every box at once, so you might still find yourself needing to decide what’s important. For example; Is it more important to have a home in a suburb close to the kids’ schools or extended family, or a house big enough for everyone to have their own bedroom? Is it more important to have a backyard and space to play or for you to be close to your work to cut down on commute time? Is it more important to have a newer home that needs little maintenance, or a house that needs more work but has greater potential for you to increase its value? Deciding on your priorities gives you a more realistic idea of what’s achievable right now. 3. Learn from people who’ve done it Do you know of other single parents who’ve become home owners? Maybe there’s someone at your mother’s group or footy team who has been through it all before. There’s nothing like insider knowledge to help give you insight into how it can be done. Ask around, many people will be happy to share their story for you and might even have a few tips of their own.