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Single Women Secure Their Piece of the American Dream

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RALEIGH — The housing market is booming in and around the Triangle, and it is not just married couples who are buying homes. More and more single women are becoming homeowners for the first time.

Debbie Ream is painting her kitchen cabinets and redecorating the home in Raleigh she bought three months ago.

As a single, 29-year old woman, it is the first house Ream has ever owned. And she did it all by herself.

"It's a great feeling to walk in the first time when you have the key and no one else is here, and just look around and go 'Wow, I did this on my own," she says.

Ream is not alone. Statistics show 57 percent of single women now own their own homes. Realtors attribute the increase to the good economy.

"They're making more money than they've ever made. Their jobs are good, secure, and they want to make some money. They want security and home ownership gives you that," says realtor Cindy Penny.

Still, many women may not realize buying a home is within their reach. Realtors are finding ways to educate them.

"In the business we call it creative financing. And that's because you gear the financing to the individual's needs. You'd be amazed. I mean, [with] 100 percent financing, you can get a house as cheap as $3,000," Penny says.

For some single women, the drawback in buying a home is not the money, it is the maintenance a house requires. Those women are finding that townhouses and condominiums suit their needs.

"Nothing makes me happier than to drive in on Tuesday and know my grass has been cut, my gutters have been cleaned. Everything is fine," says Linda Barker.

Barker's townhouse is not the first house she has owned, but it is the first she has bought alone since her divorce 18 years ago.

"After my kids were gone off to college, then I decided to make this move," she says.

"This is particularly inviting for a single woman, just for the maintenance reasons and the security reasons," broker Cheryl Kilborn says.

Many townhouses and condominiums also sell at a moderate price that can be hard to find in the Triangle.

"It's nice to come home and say, 'Oh, this is mine.' The changes I've made since I've moved in, are like, I've done this on my own and it's looking like me." Finding a realtor you can trust is key for any homebuyer, especially a single woman. A home warranty is also important. They cover even the most major problems, like heating and plumbing, for a small deductible.

Nearly 87 percent of people who responded to WRAL OnLine'sHot Button pollsay owning a home is very important to them.

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Laurie Clowers, Reporter
Edward Wilson, Photographer
Julie Moos, Web Editor

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