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••• The International Writers Magazine - 22 Years on-line - Freelance Living

Purchasing a Home to Suit Your Freelance Needs
• Indiana Lee

House keys

Buying a home is an intimidating process — even when you’re just doing so as a personal space to dwell in. When you expand your home buying needs to include your professional pursuits, it adds a whole new level of complexity into what you should be looking for.

If you’re a freelancer, you must consider what kind of home you need to stay efficient, productive, and happy as you work. Here are a few work-related considerations to help you figure out just what those parameters are for your situation.

Set the Financial Bar Low If You can

One of the biggest things to keep in mind as a freelancer looking for a home is avoiding the temptation to bite off more than you can chew. This is true for all homebuyers in a certain sense.

For instance, you might get preapproved for a much larger mortgage than you technically can afford. However, freelancers have to go even deeper in their financial analysis.

As a contractor and solopreneur, the buck stops with you. You manage your business, “pay yourself” an income from your earnings, report your taxes, and so on.

This is impressive and part of what makes freelancers so special. The only issue is that banks don’t quite see it that way. They look at a fragile, vacillating freelancer income and see risk written all over the place.

This leads to most financial institutions making freelancers jump through several extra hoops as they apply for a mortgage. They might need two years of proof of income rather than a few months of paychecks from a well-established employer. Additionally, high debt loads or too many tax write-offs can cripple your ability to be approved for a higher number.

With that said, it can often be wiser for freelancers to set the home-buying bar low if they want to make the process as hassle-free as possible. In other words, even if you know that you can afford a $500,000 mortgage, limiting yourself to half of that may make it easier to get approved.

Compare New and Old Builds

Along with your financial limits, you should also weigh the considerable advantages of going for a new build. For example, if you buy a new construction home, you can personalize it to your freelancing needs.

The good news is that you don’t even have to build from scratch to do so. While some new homes are built from scratch, others involve adding new construction to old buildings. For instance, you can remodel existing structures, add additions, or flip a fixer-upper.

There are many ways to approach the construction option. Make sure to keep it in mind. As a freelancer, you have more reason to personalize your living space than most. Investing in some construction efforts may be well worth the cost.

Look Beyond the Four Walls

It’s also important to remember to look beyond the four walls of your new home. Even if you find an ideal internal space, what is the exterior of your home like? Is it so close to the road that local traffic will be an interruption as you work?

What about the local community? Is there a co-work space nearby that you can utilize? What about a coffee shop? Is the home located in a walkable community that enables mid-day exercise to stretch your legs and refresh your mind?

A home is much more than its interior. Keep that in mind as you shop.

Find a Good Agent Who Understands Your Needs

The average real estate agent will be able to hone in on your personal living needs. Two bathrooms? Sure. A big rec room? Absolutely. A kitchen with a chrome sink, two fridges, and a top-loading dishwasher? They’ve got you covered.

But when it comes to freelancing, not every agent is going to understand what you need. This is especially true because the entrepreneurial and varying nature of freelancing means everyone has a different set of requirements.

These are often dramatic, too. A graphic designer may want plenty of room for lots of computer monitors. A writer may need an isolated and truly quiet space. A rideshare driver might require a warm garage to park the car. Make sure you find a real estate agent that can grasp your unique home needs as a contractor.

You may even want to consider being your own real estate agent to avoid being misled by a lazy or confused agent. Just be warned that there are things that you may not be aware of if you try to manage your home-buying experience on your own. Of course, there are also times that real estate agents won’t be entirely forthcoming, as well.

At the end of the day, you usually want to have a real estate agent who you can genuinely trust by your side when you buy a house. However, if you find that your entrepreneurial spirit can’t be helped, you can certainly go about being your own agent. Just make sure to dot your i’s and cross your t’s at every step.

Consider Location Factors

Along with the home-buying details, it’s worth stepping back and considering your future home’s location. Many freelancers work from home and can live wherever they want. If that’s the case for you, is there a factor about your work that makes a certain geographic region like a city or rural landscape more appealing?

You should also think about the negative aspects of any area that you consider. For instance, if you look at a home in California, you may not love some of the changes that have taken place in the state of late. In particular, the see-sawing legal battle surrounding freelancers can make investing in a home nerve-wracking and potentially short-sighted.

Whatever your circumstances, take some time to think through how your freelancing frees you up to choose where you live — and how you can use that to your advantage.

Finding a Freelance-Friendly Home

Buying a home requires a lot of planning. When you’re a freelancer, there’s more to it than merely finding a living space.

Along with your living requirements, you also need to come up with an entirely separate set of work-related qualifications for your new abode. This should take into account things like how to navigate freelancer finances when getting a mortgage, mapping out where you should look for a home, and considering the resources offered by the local community.

You should also take selecting a real estate agent very seriously. Whether you represent yourself or hire a third party, make sure you’re able to prioritize the importance of your work needs as you look for your new home.

 Indiana Lee © Indiana Lee 11.05.21

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