When you’re buying your first house as a married couple, it’s an exciting (and somewhat stressful) time. There’s so much to learn about the home buying process, and it takes time to prepare your finances, shop for a home, and sign on the dotted line. In order to make the process fun and educational, below are five tips for married couples buying their first house.
Buying a home is the American dream, and becoming a homeowner is still considered a great accomplishment. So, spend some time having fun with the process and daydream together. What type of house do you want to buy? What do you want your house to look like?
My husband and I own our home, but we’ve drawn pictures of a dream home we’d like to have or build someday. It’s fun to create images of your future home together. That’s not to say that you will be able to have everything you want in your first home, but it shows that both of you have a common goal and dreams for the future.
Go on drives, talk about what you like when you pass by certain houses, and explore neighborhoods. Take the process slowly, and try to enjoy it – together.
Prepare Your Finances
Daydreaming is a lot fun, but you can’t buy a home without having solid finances. Typically, people buy homes using a mortgage, also known as a home loan. In order to get approved for a mortgage, you have to have good or excellent credit as well as a downpayment.
There are many different types of home loans from traditional mortgages to FHA loans. Take the time to educate yourself about the different types of loans available and what you might qualify for.
Get your free credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com to make sure you don’t have any adverse accounts. Adverse accounts are late bills and accounts sent to collections. You can get a free report from all three credit bureaus every year.
While you’re looking at your report, make sure everything is accurate, and if it isn’t, take the time to notify the credit bureaus. It’s best if your credit report and credit score show all on time payments and no adverse accounts so you’ll be more attractive to lenders and more likely to get a good interest rate.
Agree on the Big Things
You can always change the paint color, refinish a bathroom, or upgrade the appliances in your home. But, it’s more difficult to change the home’s layout, and you can’t move the home’s location.
So before starting the home buying process with your spouse, write down the big things. Where do you want to live? Does that location have a good school district if you have or want to have kids? How many bedrooms would you like to have? How long do you plan to live in the the home?
People get caught up in the home buying process and their dreams of owning their forever home. This causes many couples to buy houses that are too big for their budget or nicer than they can afford. So, by agreeing on the big things ahead of time and knowing what you will compromise on, you’re more likely to have a successful home buying experience.
Sometimes, real estate agents and bankers will try to get you to spend more than you want to. They might approve you for an amount well beyond what you thought possible. Work together with your spouse to create a home budget that you’re comfortable with.
Many people try to buy a house because they believe their mortgage payment will be much cheaper than their rent payment. While that may be true on paper, owning a house comes with a significant amount of expenses upfront and during home ownership.
For example, you’ll have to have enough cash on hand for a downpayment. Then, you’ll be responsible for paying for a home inspection. Then you have to pay closing costs, not to mention how much it costs to maintain your home.
For all of these reasons, stay firm. Don’t let your real estate agent show you houses above your price range. Our real estate agent told us that if we could increase our home budget by $20,000, we could get everything we wanted. We told her no. And, it’s a good thing we did because one year into home ownership, our property taxes increased, which made our monthly house bill increase by $200 a month. If we were in a house that was too big for our budget, that price increase could have caused a lot of financial strain.
Remember, There are Lots of Great Houses
Lastly, try to keep your emotions in check when buying a house. We got outbid on three houses before we were able to buy ours. There are lots of great houses out there, and when you lose out on one, it means there’s one better on the way.
It’s not worth it to bid tens of thousands over asking price to try to be the “winner” of the house, especially if that puts you over budget. Instead, try to avoid bidding wars and instead focus on buying a house in your budget or under your budget. You can always renovate a house in the future to try to get all the features you want over time.
Buying a house doesn’t have to be stressful. Keep the tips above in mind when house hunting, and it can be a fun, enjoyable, and educational experience for you.