Newlyweds Guide to Buying a Home

Purchasing a home is better than renting one, particularly for newlyweds with a nest egg, who want to build equity. Owning a home – besides giving you ownership over something – helps you build net worth and gets you a break on your taxes. Buying a home is an investment of money, time, and emotion, which is all the more reason to find the right home for you and your spouse. Here is a guide for newlyweds who want to buy a home:

1. Prioritize

You and your husband or wife should sit down and discuss the kind of home you want to buy, where you’d like to live, and the specific must-haves for the two of you. Maybe your new home needs to have a two-car garage or a backyard and that is something on which you are both unwilling to compromise. “Make sure you’re both on the same page,” says Elizabeth Weintraub,guide to Home Buying and a real estate agent in Sacramento. She adds that sometimes spouses want different things – from a wife who wants a city town house and her husband who wants a farm in the country to couples who disagree about the number of bedrooms their house should have. As a couple, determine your priorities. You must be willing to compromise with one another to figure out the right neighborhoods, types of homes, and must-haves.

2. Research

Start searching the Internet and going to open houses, suggests Weintraub. Get a feel for what kind of houses are out there and what you like. Look at pictures and virtual tours but do not make any decisions based on the properties you find online. Beware what you see, says Jim Kimmons, guide to the Real Estate Business for About.com. For example,the National Association of Realtors charges realtors for extra exposure, so it presents listings in a way that favors those who pay. You can also search the blogosphere, suggests Kimmons, and search for the real estate market that interests you. For instance, you can type in “San Francisco real estate” to find blogs that cover your desired neighborhoods. Still, one of the best ways to get information, says Kimmons, is to talk to people who could potentially be your neighbors to find out about the culture and positives and negatives to the town you might call home.

3. Find a good real estate agent – like us!!

You and your husband or wife must feel comfortable with your real estate agent. In addition, the agent must be an insider, one who knows the ins and outs of the neighborhoods that interest you most. Weintraub also says the agent should be someone who will not steer you into a home you can’t afford, has your best interests – and not just closing the deal – at heart, and can help you negotiate well. At Real Estate Concierge, we have experience, can predict problems and head them off, call in favors, and know their market.

4. Get your money in order

Before you can buy a home, you need to have good credit. You must pay off debts and be sure you can afford a down payment and monthly mortgage payments. One of the mistakes first-time buyers make, says Weintraub, is going on spending sprees for new furniture to fill the new house and end up losing it because their credit is now shot. Part of preparing for owning a home is saving money, spending less, and buying only things you can afford. Never buy more home than you can afford or need. It can ruin your credit, bust your bank account, and lead to arguments – not mention major problems – with your husband or wife.

5. Be patient

Many couples get sick of looking for a new home. Then, they rush into a decision about a house they don’t like all that much, says Weintraub. Either they end up stuck in a house they don’t like or they sell the new house too soon. The lesson: Keep your eye on the prize. While you should be willing to compromise on little things, you should not settle for a home in which you wouldn’t feel comfortable living. If you’re both out of your mind with frustration and exhaustion, take a break from looking at homes for a while. Even just a weekend away from the real estate romp could be good for the two of you and your relationship – and it might give you perspective on your search.

6. Negotiate

Don’t just think about getting a lower price. “Negotiate on many levels,” says Kimmons. He suggests, for example, negotiating for time. Don’t show the sellers or their agent how much you want a particular house, says Kimmons. You’ll be at a disadvantage if everyone knows you’d do anything to get the house. Use repairs that need to be made as a bargaining tool, even for an “as is” purchase, when you’re taking a house as it is. Weintraub knows a couple who was buying a home as is but asked the sellers to install a heating and cooling system because there was no air conditioner vents on one floor. The sellers would not do that, but they gave them a break on the price. You never know what asking may get you, says Weintraub.

7. Think of the future

“You’re buying a home for your family,” says Kimmons. “There’s a lot of emotion…It’s an investment, too.” He suggests giving serious thought to the resale value five to 10 years down the road. Ask yourself, Kimmons says, what the neighborhood will be like demographically then? Too often, couples fall in love with a kitchen or a backyard and fail to think about the actual investment. There are probably eight to 10 other houses you could enjoy and a few of those would be a smarter investment, says Kimmons. Finding an agent who knows numbers or looking on blogs that are heavy on stats can help you predict which neighborhoods hold the most promise for the future and therefore would give you the most bang for your buck now.

Of course, when thinking about how this home will influence your future, you must make sure you can afford it. That means you must be able to afford the down payment and monthly mortgage payments. It should be reasonable and feasible. If it’s not, the money stress will hurt your marriage and possibly your credit score.