Many newlyweds want to start off their marriage with a new home to call their own as a family. But before you start shopping for a mortgage or a house, take the time to sit down together and decide on a few things. Here are these important preparatory steps.
1. Check Both Credit Scores
One of the first moves a couple should make is to look at the credit scores of both partners. This gives you the most options and will inform future steps to take.
Even if you believe the mortgage will be in one person's name, don't make any assumptions without assessing actual credit histories and any improvements you can make to them. Take this step early so you have time to boost scores if needed.
2. Decide Who Will Apply
Armed with knowledge of both partners' credit and financial information, it's time to discuss who will actually be on the mortgage. As a couple, you can apply for a loan together or just as one individual. The parties on the mortgage do not even have to be the same as those on the deed.
Some couples find it beneficial to include both incomes on the application by applying as a couple. However, if one party has bad credit or a lot of debts from before the marriage, the increased income may not overcome these negative impacts.
3. Make a Down Payment Plan
As first-time homebuyers, you may qualify for a low-down payment. However, if either person owned a home recently, this may not be an option.
Whichever route you take, start making a plan to save up for the down payment. Will both partners contribute to the down payment? What if only one is on the loan or deed? Having a plan in advance prevents money-based conflict later.
4. Agree on House Needs
The next step may be the most difficult: agreeing on how much house you need. It's important to hash this out as a couple before you go home shopping or apply for a loan. The reason? With the right priorities in place ahead of time, you're less likely to fall for a home you can't afford or to accept a loan that is too large.
5. Talk About Your Future
Although you're just starting out as spouses, buying a home calls for some advance consideration. Where do you want to be in five years? What about ten? Do you want to start a family, go back to school, build a career, or get a pet? Any of these plans makes a difference to the home buying process. You may decide to get just a starter home, for example, delay a home purchase until a move, apply for a smaller loan, or buy a home with extra bedrooms.
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