As we approach the end of June, “wedding season” seems to be in full swing, and soon, many newlywed
couples will be house hunting. More often than not, these couples are first time home buyers. In fact, a 2013 Coldwell Banker study shows that about 35% of Americans buy their first home within the first 2 years of marriage. So how can couples make their first major purchase together a successful one? Here are a few pieces of advice from pros at Hofemeister Realty.
Have a Plan. Planning the next 5-10 years for yourselves as couple will help you determine what kind of investment you’re willing to put into a home. Here are a few things to discuss.
- Financial Goals: Co-mingling money can be a daunting task for any couple, but you’ll need to get a handle on your collective debts and assets as you plan to buy a home. Perhaps you have a lot of student or credit card debt that you want to pay down before buying a home. Perhaps your car is on its last leg and you need reliable transportation for work. Work together to determine if home buying is really your priority right now.
- Career Goals: Will you need to go back to school to achieve your goals? Do you see yourself relocating for work? Do you anticipate a career change that could affect your income? Answering these questions will help you determine if you’re ready to buy a home, and specifically, a home in your current city.
- Kids?: Do you want children? Sure, it seems like you just got married yesterday, but if you plan to have kids, you’ll have to shift your budget and your home search accordingly. Financially speaking, you’ll have to consider the general costs of having children along with the lost income that you may incur if one of you plans to be a stay-at-home parent. Regarding your home search, you’ll want to take the quality of the school district (and perhaps how close you live to grandma and grandpa!) into consideration.
Consider Your Credit: Conversations about credit can be brutal, but they are necessary if you want to buy a home.
- Along with knowing your collective debt and bill-paying habits, running your individual credit scores will help you determine the kind of home loan you may be eligible for. The mortgage rates for first time buyers are highly dependent on credit scores. The higher your score, the lower the rate. What may seem like a small rate difference now can mean significant savings over the life of a thirty year mortgage.
- Know your credit. You are entitled to one free credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus. Get your score today by visiting annualcreditreport.com
Talk Wants and Needs: Buying a house can be a stressful process, and it can be difficult on a relationship, as this writer with the Wall Street Journal explains. However, knowing what each of you wants and needs out of a home can alleviate some stress during the house-hunting process. Here are a few things to think about:
- Size of the home: Do you want your home to be a sanctuary for your family, or a larger space with guest bedrooms and plenty of room for dinner parties?
- Maintenance costs: Are you willing to spend the time and money it takes to mow and landscape an acre or more? Or would a small lawn be better for you?
- Fixer Upper? Historic Home? New Build?: Think DIY weekends vs. basic maintenance.
- Neighborhood: What do you most value? Being in a good school district? Being near friends and family? Low Crime Rate? The length of your commute to work?
Get Pre-Approved: As realtors, we cannot stress to you enough how important it is to get pre-approved for your home loan for 2 reasons.
- First, it lets us and the home’s seller know that you are a serious bidder.
- Secondly, it helps us work with you to know your budget and find homes that fit within that budget.
- If you don’t know how to go about getting pre-approved, any Hofmeister Realty agent can help you find a qualified expert to get you through the process.
Finally, Find a Real Estate Agent! In case you missed our post “Why You Need a Reatlor,” we’ll just remind you that your realtor can help you do more than just find your perfect home. We can help you find mortgage options and tax incentives that are appropriate to first time buyers, and you can depend on our experience to help you find the best neighborhoods and home features for your buck.