February is the month for Valentine’s Day, romance and couples looking forward to a wonderful future together. This may also be the time for couples to consider taking a big step toward a major commitment – homeownership. For most couples, buying a home is the most significant purchase they will make together and it can often seem overwhelming, especially for those who are new to the real estate process. From selecting a neighborhood to deciding how to use a spare room, navigating the world of homeownership together requires some extra work.
For those couples looking to purchase a home, here are six simple tips that will ensure a harmonious house hunt without rocking the relationship:
- Get pre-approved for a loan. There are few things worse than finding the perfect home, only to find out that it costs more than one can afford. Before beginning the house hunt, get pre-approved for a loan. A pre-approval will let couples know where they fall financially while informing the mortgage company that they are ready to buy. Additionally, being pre-approved for a loan can help speed up the closing process once an offer has been accepted.
- Set a budget. Beyond basic income and savings, there are a number of other financial elements to consider before setting a price range for the new home. Once a couple has decided on a location, they should consider travel costs to their family, jobs and children’s schools. The next step is to add up all monthly bills, including insurance costs, credit card bills and groceries. This total estimated cost of living should be factored into the couple’s overall budget.
- Get on the same page. Whether it’s a quiet neighborhood or a two-car garage, everyone has their own “must haves” when it comes to the home of their dreams. For a couple looking for a home to share, it is important to discuss each of their essentials before beginning the search. Keep in mind that complete agreement may be impossible, so be prepared to compromise. Once the list of “must haves” is finalized, contact a real estate professional who can determine if the expectations are realistic given the homes currently on the market.
- Allocate additional funds. The down payment on a new home is just one of the significant financial aspects of a move. Even after both people’s belongings are combined there will likely still be a need to purchase furniture and other items, which will require additional budget. The last thing a couple will want to do is start out their life together with nothing in the bank!
- Be patient. A recent Coldwell Banker survey found that women are likely to make up their minds faster than men. Almost 70 percent of women surveyed decided the day they walked into the house that it was right for them, while 32 percent of men needed two or more visits. It will likely take multiple trips to the home before both members of the couple decide it is “the one.” If a significant other needs more time, be patient and try not to pressure them.
- Sign a contract. For a couple who has yet to walk down the aisle, it is important to contact a real estate attorney before closing on a home. A contract should be drawn up outlining who is responsible for what expenses and how assets will be divided in the event of a split.
With affordability at record levels, the dream of finding the perfect love nest is within reach for most couples these days, especially those first time homebuyers who are just starting out. But knowing what you’re getting into before you begin your search is essential. After all, your new home will be more than just four walls and a roof. It will be a place to build a future for your family. To start your home search today, visit CaliforniaMoves.com.