Buying a house is one of the most significant and expensive purchases made in a relationship. This decision can be stressful, especially for couples with little to no experience in the field of real estate. There are many decisions to be made while house hunting, from the location of the neighborhood to the size of the master bath. Following these five helpful tips will allow couples to navigate the process of house hunting without straining your relationship!
Tip #1: Communicate with Each Other
Get on the same page. Owning a house together is a big commitment and responsibility. If you’re a couple looking to own a home and possibly expand your family, it’s important to agree on the list of “must haves” before you start your search. Understand what each of you are looking for, whether it’s the spacious backyard and pool, or a basement home theater.
Like most things in a healthy relationship, a successful house hunt depends on communication and compromise. Support one another and try not to pressure each other into a decision that may lead to regret or resentment in the future.
Tip #2: Have a Budget – and Stick to It!
Buying a house is a major financial commitment, and we all know money can be one of the biggest sources of strain in a relationship. Overspending is a surefire way to damage your relationship, both financially and emotionally. Stay within your budget. Consider each other’s income and savings, then consider how you’ll maintain the lifestyle you want once you buy your new home. Don’t get in over your head.
It’s also important to be sure you’re prepared for emergencies. Home ownership can entail unforeseen costs, like fixing a broken heat pump or replacing a rotten floor joist. And don’t forget to consider smaller costs like your monthly bills, the cost of your daily commute to work, and the overall cost of living in your neighborhood. Making sure you have a full understanding of the cost of home ownership will help you and your honey make a smooth transition into your new home.
Tip #3: Get Pre-Approved for a Joint Loan
Finalizing your budget is one step, but seeking pre-approval for a loan is key in speeding up the buying process. Once you’re pre-approved, your realtors and mortgage company will be confident that you are financially stable and able to purchase the house you’re requesting to view. When it’s time to sign a contract, being pre-approved and having a bank commitment letter will help everything go much more smoothly.
Married couples will typically apply for a loan together. If you’re not married, you can still apply for a joint loan, but do some research first to understand the legal and tax implications. And never put your name on a home loan unless your name is also on the deed of the house!
Tip #4: Get a Home Inspection – Always!
Never skip the home inspection! Sometimes one person in a couple is so excited about buying a home that they want to rush through this critical step. Don’t do it! Help your partner understand the importance of an inspection. You need to know what you’re getting into. You don’t want to be surprised that your septic system has failed after closing on your house, or find that the back deck is infested with termites while hosting your very first house warming party.
Again, money and finances are the most common source of problems in relationships. Skipping a home inspection opens up a financial can of worms. Even if a home is being sold “as is,” you should get an inspection. The inspection report will give you an idea future costs you’ll incur, and you can use this information to plan your offer.
You’ll save yourselves a lot of stress – and money! – if you insist on a home inspection.
Tip #5: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
As a couple, you may not agree on all aspects of the house, from the carpet in the living room to the tile on the patio. But these are details that can be smoothed out later. You want to make sure you’ve picked a house that fits the needs of your future together. Do you need that extra spare room for the future expansion of your family? Is the kitchen spacious enough to host family dinners? If you both can agree on a house that covers everything on your “must have” list, the smaller details can be settled in the future.
The truth is, couples usually don’t agree on design choices and how to customize their home. However, once you’ve owned your home for a while, you’ll have a better sense of how you use your space and what your design or renovation preferences are. Over time, you can work together to plan and save for any upgrades on each other’s wish lists.
The most important thing about house hunting as a couple is to always remember that you are in this together! You aren’t just buying a home together; you’re investing in your future together as a couple and family. Be patient. The right house will come along. Enjoy exploring the possibilities together. Happy house hunting!