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This article was published 15/4/2012 (2863 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
TORONTO — Sandra Rinomato first brought her real-estate know-how to the small screen in Property Virgins, helping first-timers looking to land a home.
With Buy Herself, which premieres tonight at 9 on HGTV, the Toronto real estate broker and TV personality is again coming to the aid of prospective property owners. But in her new series, she is zeroing in on a steadily growing segment of first-time buyers: single women.
As someone who chose to purchase a property solo, Rinomato can relate to the unique challenges faced by singles venturing into the market — particularly when it comes to having a sole breadwinner make the mortgage payments.
"I wasn't guaranteed to get that paycheque every Friday, so that was an issue for me," the real estate broker said in an interview. "When I bought a house completely on my own after a breakup, I was used to having a dual income; and then all of a sudden, that extra person wasn't there anymore."
Rinomato was still able to fulfil her home ownership aspirations by opting to buy a property with a basement apartment.
"I said to myself: 'This basement apartment is nice enough for me to move into if I have to, and I can rent out the top for more money; or, I can rent out the basement and live up here.' So, depending on how bad my income became, I had options." When she later moved out of the home, she retained it as an investment property.
In Buy Herself, Rinomato works with women in their 20s, 30s and 40s all with different reasons they're opting to buy — and buy alone.
In the series premiere, 37-year-old single, career-oriented Kelly is looking to leave behind her rental in a building largely populated by seniors for a place where she can be among fellow professionals.
Future episodes will include an aspiring real estate mogul living with her father and stepmother, and a single mother with a baby daughter who are outgrowing their rental apartment.
Rinomato said this is the first time in modern history that women are so prominent as both buyers and homeowners. She can recall a time many years ago where banks wouldn't loan to women without a male co-signer or guarantor.
There are any number of reasons propelling women to get a foothold in the market, whether it's desire to decorate, nest and have people over to enjoy the space, or the appeal of a money-making investment, she noted.
Rinomato said safety is also a key and common concern and part of what's driving the movement of many women towards buying condos.
The esthetics of a home are also of particular importance for female buyers, she noted.
"They are more concerned about the type of appliances, the countertops, the decor and the flooring, whereas a house or a property that needs some work will scare a lot of women away because they don't want to take on the task," she said. "They want to buy this place and move in and relax and they want to start decorating and entertaining and having fun.... They don't want to buy a place that has scuffed baseboards and a piece of the baseboard is missing."
Once the home search gets underway, Rinomato said first-timers should regularly revisit their wish lists as perceptions typically change when touring potential homes. She also encourages women to stay focused on their goals and needs in buying a home.
"Forget about granite countertops. If they're not there, is that really going to affect your enjoyment of the property? If it is, OK, that stays on the wish list," she said. "Is the location really going to affect your lifestyle? If you don't mind a big commute to where you work and play, then you can buy outside of the city."
Overall, Rinomato said women in general are financially equipped and are buying the homes they really want.
"These women are saving, they're planning, they're calculating their numbers, they're very cautious. They want to make sure that they don't make a mistake, and I think that... sometimes that fear of making a mistake is crippling.
"It's a big leap of faith to buy a property, especially if you've never bought (one). But if you have owned one with your past partner, then it's pretty daunting to think of buying a place on your own and carrying it. Once you do it — and if you do it right — it's so rewarding."
— The Canadian Press