SIKESTON -- Vanessa Morgan never thought her dream of owning a home would ever become a reality.
Recently divorced, the 26-year-old had moved back in with her parents and wanted a place she and her 2-year-old son could call their own.
But there was a slight problem, or so Morgan thought. She didn't have any money for a down payment, and her credit history was a little less than perfect.
"My mom and dad had helped me out, and eventually I was financially able to be on my own, and I looked around," Morgan said.
So when a quaint, little house came up for sale in Scott County last summer, Morgan knew she couldn't let the opportunity pass.
"I needed to get out on my own for my son's sake and because I was a parent, and I felt like I was 15 years old living with my parents," Morgan recalled.
Morgan and her father went to a local bank, where she went through a preliminary loan application process.
"I had to go through the credit, and they looked at my checking account and credit history," Morgan recalled. "And then I got the loan."
Morgan admitted she was somewhat surprised when she learned she could be a homeowner, but local real estate professionals said more single people are increasingly purchasing homes for the first time.
"We have a good amount of single people who buy homes every year," said Faye Walborg, Realtor and broker/owner of Century 21 Premiere Realty Inc. in Sikeston.
Walborg said the opportunities are out there for young people; they just need to be aware.
Michele Knickman, mortgage loan originator at US Bank in Sikeston, agreed saying these days there are about 21 different ways first-time buyers can purchase a home with no down payment and have all the benefits of those who do make a down payment.
"In the old school, you didn't think of buying (a home) unless you had 20 percent down, but that's not the case anymore," Knickman said.
Single women purchased 21 percent of homes while single men account for 9 percent, according to the 2005 National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. In 2004, single women were 18 percent of buyers and single men were 8 percent.
Sue Rogers, broker/partner of First Realty GMAC in Sikeston, thinks women's income has increased substantially, which is why more single women are able to purchase homes.
"I think that's due to the fact young girls, usually, mature faster than young men," Walborg said. "... I think young women have enough maturity to want to purchase something that's going to help them in the future instead of purchasing something that depreciates."
While Knickman hasn't noticed a trend among singles versus couples, she has noticed a lot more first-time home buyers, she said.
"Most of those are younger and they want to get into a program with no money down," Knickman said.
First-time home buyers are more educated than in the past, Knickman said. "Mortgage lending is a hot topic and the low rates have interested people. They ask questions and have more knowledge as to what happens," Knickman said.
For potential buyers, Walborg said she can't stress enough the importance of credit.
"You can get a house with no down payment and no pocket funds if you have good credit. If you have bad credit, you can still get a house, but you have to have more money and take a higher interest rate," Walborg said.
Rogers agreed. "And anybody in a new single lifestyle should keep real close check on credit reports and make sure they don't have an unexpected judgment or default on a home loan because it can affect them being able to purchase a house," Rogers said.
It's not to a buyer's best advantage to apply for loans at a lot of different institutions, Knickman advised.
"If you have a lot of inquiries on credit, it will cause your credit scores to go down, which will affect programs you can get into," Knickman said.
Tracey Sutton, manager at Semo Title Co. in Sikeston, said if a single person purchases a piece of property, they should have an estate plan, such as a will stating who should get the property if something happens to them.
"When you purchase (property) with a spouse, the spouse automatically gets the property if you die. But when you purchase as an individual, if you die and don't have it taken care of legally, your family will have to figure out what to do with your estate," Sutton explained.
There are many aspects to estate planning and a buyer should contact an attorney to determine the best plan for them, Sutton said.
"They need to find them an agent they feel comfortable with," Walborg said. "These agents are going to meetings and learning ways to help people get loans all the time."
Morgan also suggested talking with someone.
"I probably don't have the most perfect credit, and to have someone go over your options with you would really help," Morgan said.
Meanwhile, Morgan said she loves her new home, which she's able to afford and enjoy with her son.
"It's so much better being on my own," Morgan said. "Now I feel like a parent."