For many newlyweds, buying a home is just one of the first things they want to do as a way to cement their union after tying the knot. This can be a busy and stressful time, especially for couples still caught up in the whirlwind of wedding planning. Fortunately, we spoke to real estate agent Tony Gilbert to get his house buying tips for newlyweds. With his newlywed’s guide to home buying, you can make the whole process much simpler and more rewarding. These tips and ideas for newlywed house buying will help you work together to find a place you will both be proud to call home.
Discuss Finances and Credit
The home buying process is a big investment that requires a lot of energy. The best way to start is with a thorough and honest analysis of each other’s credit history and current financial situation. Hopefully you’ve already done this before you get married, but some couples wait until afterward, and some never do it at all. This is a huge mistake!
The bottom line is, if you plan to apply for a mortgage together, you need to know what you can expect to see on the other person’s credit report. Lenders often take the lowest scores into consideration for mortgage terms, so it is usually better to know before starting the application.
So, if you haven’t already, use this opportunity to get all the details of your significant other’s budgeting and spending habits. As you look through credit reports and regular bills, discuss your expectations for buying a home. Ironing out the differences will make it easier to prepare for the mortgage process and select the right house.
Explore Mortgage Options
Generally, both you and your other half will want to be on the mortgage and on the title for the home. However, this is not always true, especially for couples where one person has a lower credit score or a limited employment history. So is not terribly uncommon for one of the married individuals to apply for a separate mortgage for the both of them. As a general rule however, you may prefer to apply together. Two working adults equals a higher income, which usually translates into a higher pre-approval amount for people to use in buying a home.
Typically, you can get the best rates when you apply for a loan with more than one lender. Banks and other lenders have some leeway in the kinds of terms they can offer, which means that couples might get a better deal with one than they receive from another. When you’re looking into becoming a home buyer, you should think about the following terms to find a loan that best fits your needs:
- Mortgage length, which is commonly 15 or 30 years
- Fixed-rate or adjustable-rate
- Size of down payment
- Total closing costs
The choices that you make as a couple will depend on you finances, credit score and credit history, and how much cash you have ready for a down payment.
Reach an Agreement on Preferences
There are so many aspects of home buying that you and the love of your life need to think about before you can start looking at homes. Newlyweds who make a list of what they want and need will be better prepared to select which houses to view and tour, and to ultimately pick the best ones on which to make an offer.
Before you even start shopping for a mortgage, however, you and your spouse should individually write down your intentions on these home features:
- Type of home (e.g. single-family, condominium, or townhome)
- Potential home location, commute times and available public transportation
- Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
- Square footage (size) of home
- Yard or lot size and landscaping
- Garage, carport or parking considerations
- Design and layout of the floor plan (open floor plan vs. traditional)
- Amenities desired, such as gas vs. electric range, a deck or a fireplace
- Stylish finishes, such as hardwood flooring, tile or carpet
Once you have both made a list, categorize it according to the things each of you values most. This gives you room to negotiate and compromise. Then merge the lists together. You’re more likely to be happy with the result if each of you feels like your priorities were given proper weight during the initial decision-making process.
The best time to buy a home is going to be different for every couple. Many people buy a home within a year or two of getting married, but this may not always be the right choice. As newlyweds, you should think about your budget, future income and employment plans, and whether or not you plan to stay in the same location for some time.
Usually, you’ll need to plan to live in the home for at least a few years to avoid losing money on your initial investment. If you’re planning to increase the size of your family within the next few years, you should factor in any loss of income or additional expenses into your future budget. This kind of advance planning will help you ensure that you can afford the mortgage well into the future.
Home Buying Process
Once you’ve reviewed your finances, completed some financial planning, and agreed on your expectations for a home, you may be ready to officially start the home buying process. This experience can take anywhere from a few months to more than a year, depending on the real estate market in the area and how well-prepared you are to buy. Expect the following home buying steps:
- Apply for a mortgage pre-approval with a home lender or mortgage broker
- Contact a real estate buyer’s agent to represent their interests in the purchase
- Identify homes for sale and tour them
- Choose a property and make a purchase offer
- Proceed on the sale if the seller accepts
- Complete the mortgage approval process
- Schedule a home inspection
- Negotiate any issues resulting from the inspection reports
- Complete a final walk-through
- Close on the Purchase
Congrats! After this process completes, you will officially be the owners of your first marital home.
Buying a home as newlyweds could be a wonderful way to begin a marriage. With the right attitude and approach, you’ll have all the information you need to go through the process quickly, efficiently, and happily, and find a home you both love.