Four Essential Tips for Newlyweds about to Buy Their First Home
Aug 9, 2019
Buying a home with your new spouse is one of the most exciting major life purchases you will ever make—and one of the most stressful. From house searching, to figuring out the finances, to finally signing on the dotted line—the process can feel like an emotional roller coaster at times. Here are four essential tips for newlyweds to help pave the way for a confident house hunt with as few obstacles as possible.
1. Decide if You Are Ready to Buy a Home.
Owning a home is a huge commitment. So, before you begin the journey to find and purchase your dream home, take some time to consider the multitude of factors involved. Ask yourself these questions and let your answers serve as a guide to making the best possible decisions for you and your spouse.
- Are we financially ready to buy a house?
- What kind of home can we afford based on income and current assets?
- Do we have enough for a down payment?
- Have we considered property taxes, HOA fees, city assessments, water/sewer/garbage, and other utility costs into the total monthly amount?
- Are we ready to settle down into a long term investment?
- Should we consider renting?
- Do we understand our mortgage options?
- Do we plan to start a family?
- What neighborhoods might we consider living in?
- Are the school districts going to be a factor? (In fact, this is a good one to consider even if you don’t plan to have kids because schools affect the home value)
- Is buying a condo or townhouse an option?
- Are there specific features to the home that we consider crucial (i.e. certain number of bedrooms or bathrooms, a swimming pool, etc.)?
Everyone has a different version of what their “ideal” home looks like. Some believe the neighborhood is a “must-have” while others find the actual features of the house to be the determining factor. Make a list of what you are looking for in a house and then rank them by priority. Does having walk-in closets for every bedroom take priority over a fenced-in yard? Now is the time to figure these things out—before you even start the house hunt.
2. Save for the Down Payment.
No matter what mortgage lender you choose, most of them require a certain amount of money for a down payment. The amount that you set aside for this will determine what kind of mortgage you qualify for—and the overall amount you can borrow for the purchase of your new home.
The down payment can be anywhere from 3% to 20% of the home’s value depending on the lender requirements. Coming up with the money can be tough for some couples just starting out, and often requires a combination of strategies to get there. Some turn to family for help while others are tempted to tap into their retirement accounts.
Before you do either of these, consider looking into state-funded assistance programs. If this is your first time buying a house—or it has been three years since you owned a home—in Georgia, there is a program called the Georgia Dream Homeownership Program which will help you finance a mortgage and come up with a down payment. This program was created to make owning a home possible for Georgians who are in a moderate income category. Georgia’s Department of Community Affairs and the federal government also offer down payment assistance programs in the form of no-interest loans and a deferred repayment. Prospective homeowners can get up to $15,000 assistance in a down payment depending on the program.
Another way to save for a down payment is to create a special account that you contribute to each month. You can try to lower your expenses in other areas and reduce any high interest rate debt you are carrying. Some couples take on a second job and even skip regularly scheduled yearly vacations. Just make sure to set a clear goal and know exactly what you are working toward. To view a more comprehensive list of expenses to expect in addition to the down payment, check out this article on expenses to consider when buying your first home.
3. Decide On An Agent That’s Right For You
With the proliferation of real estate information available online, buyers are increasingly becoming more informed. In fact, in a 2018 profile of home buyers and sellers, first-time home buyers made up 33% of the total number surveyed, of which 44% said they used the internet to look at properties as their first step in the buying process. As a married couple looking for your first home, you want to get the most out the process and carefully choose the Agent/company that works best for you.
If you’re like most Americans, then you probably have a family member or friend who is a real estate agent. This person most likely works for a traditional brokerage and is more than willing to help you with your home search. They will help you narrow down properties and offer support to get you into your new home. This person may be a great fit for you and your spouse depending on their experience and knowledge of the area where you are wanting to live. Using this Agent might also be an unavoidable option depending on how close the friend is to you.
If you are somebody that enjoys finding homes online, then a non-traditional, technology-based real estate company might be right for you. A tech-powered brokerage is going to provide you with the platforms you need to find potential properties, set up showings online, and receive assistance when you need it most. Typically, a non-traditional company will step in when you’re ready to tour and guide you through your purchase.
Some companies like SimpleShowing will actually reward you for the work you do in the home search process by offering a $5,000 average refund for homebuyers who buy with their Agents. This refund could be a great benefit for newlyweds who have a tight budget as the money can be used to offset extra costs such as closing costs, new appliances, etc. Your refund is calculated based on the number of homes you tour and purchase price. If you’d like to work with a SimpleShowing Agent, you just book a tour of any home to get started.
4. Compromise With Your Spouse
Buying a home can be a challenging process for anyone—especially a newly married couple who is already faced with so many choices and decisions. It doesn’t matter how solid your relationship is, the searching and buying process can throw even the best of couples into a tailspin.
What happens if you prefer a traditional home and your partner is set on something more modern? Or if your husband insists you move to the suburbs but you find yourself forever a city girl? This is the perfect time to pull out your separate lists (or make them if you haven’t done so yet) and take a look at your ranked priorities. Whether it be location, price, size or style of home, or renovation needs, a little give and take is needed from both parties.
Compare your lists and then figure out what is most important to both of you. This common ground will help you prioritize combined, realistic goals. If you find the house hunt is putting a strain on your marriage, then it may be time to take a time out. Take a break and come back with a positive perspective and the willingness to compromise.
Your first home as a newlywed is a massive purchase—and something you don’t want to take lightly. Impulsivity will do you no favors here, so take time to research the market, find the right real estate agent/company that suits your specific needs, and decide on a home that is ideal for you.