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Lessons on Homebuying for the Modern Woman

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About Justine Chan

Meet Justine, founder of Live with Plum – a platform guiding women through the convoluted process of buying a home. After graduating from business school, she bought her own first apartment in New York City. Fast forward five years later, she has purchased three more apartments and earned her real estate license. Now, her mission is to empower all women on their journey towards homeownership.

Lessons on Homebuying for the Modern Woman

Hi everyone! I am Justine and I am the Founder of Live With Plum, the homebuying guide for the modern woman. Julia and I worked at The Boston Consulting Group before we both decided to embark on our entrepreneurial journeys. I’m so proud to see the community of strong, empowered women she built here at Rise and am excited to share my story with all of you. I started Live With Plum after going through my own real estate journey and seeing how little resources there were for homebuyers, especially first-time home owners. Also, as a single millennial woman of color, there weren’t many stories that looked like mine even though we are a substantial and growing segment of homeowners in America. On Live With Plum, I write a series called Plum Homeowner where I interview female homeowners from all walks of life. We are single or married, with children or without children, in debt or without debt. Our backgrounds may be different but we are united in that we currently own a property. While we are a site that features homeowners and educates on homebuying, we believe that homeownership is a dream only if you decide that you want it. There is no judgment either way but if you do decide you want to purchase then here are some tips from the women who have done it already.

Lesson 1: Closing on a home is more expensive than you think

This was the most mentioned lesson by everyone we interviewed – and for good reason. The common perception is that all you need to save up for is the down payment, however closing costs are usually an additional 2-5% of the transaction.

So, for a 200k property, you will need to have up to 10k saved up for the closing costs, not an inconsequential sum! The list of possible fees will change depending on type of loan, type of property and location of property but generally includes title fees, lender fees, home inspection fees and insurance.

Lesson 2: Do your diligence on different mortgage options

If you qualify for specific mortgages, then use these to your advantage. In one interview, Tancy of @herwellspentlife speaks to us of how her and her husband purchased a property using a VA loan, which allowed them to put down no down payment, instead of the typical 20%. 
In another interview with Tiffany of @littlegoldbook, we learned of how she was able to qualify for a special mortgage for lawyers, who may not have the required down payment now because of their high student debt but lenders are willing to provide concessions because of their future income potential. Education is key and the more you know of what is available, the more you can find an option that fits your needs.

Lesson 3: Find your “Board of Advisors”

Anna of @youngmoneyplans recommends all future home buyers to ask for advice from trusted, experienced individuals — your friends, family or even coworkers. While you may have a realtor or lawyer to provide you with professional advice, another opinion from someone you trust, and isn’t incentivized for the transaction to proceed, can be helpful when making a decision on likely one of the biggest purchases of your life.

Lesson 4: Pay attention to your credit score

Your credit score is a numerical number determined by a credit bureau to represent your creditworthiness. Lenders (banks etc.) use this score to understand what the likelihood of you repaying them the loan is. The higher your score, the lower your mortgage interest rate and the more options of mortgages you will have available. 
You can monitor your credit score for free through websites like creditkarma.com andcreditsesame.com. In addition, the Fair Credit and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) allows you to get one free credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit bureau (Experian, Equifax, Transunion). With the report, you can identify which areas you’re underperforming in and then take action to improve your credit score.


You can learn more about Justine and follow her blog here. You can follow Justine on Instagram here.

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