3 Ways to Stay in Love When Buying a Home: A Valentine's Day Post
The first time my husband and I tried to buy a house, our love affair nearly ended. Tenants in a house at the time, we received an eviction notice when the landlord opted to put the home on the market. We wanted so badly to join the owners of the world; no more eviction notices, no more “no dogs,” no more “you can’t paint a mural in your kitchen” or put a washer/dryer in your cavernous bathroom for which there is no other use for the space! But we had about 30 days to do this, make this move from tenant to owner. And we were truly clueless about buying, knowing little else about the process than that we wanted to buy. Little wonder the whole experienced nearly caused us to hate each other.
Luckily, by the second time we decided to try, we were both much more educated. Now, as we make a bid on a house just across the street from the home we’re renting, we’re excited, hopeful, and above all else, united.
That’s why the following tips aren’t just timely; they’re vital. With the holiday that celebrates love just one day away, we need to remember we’re buying together, so we can live in our shared home together, because we actually like being together. The whole deal doesn’t make much sense if we end up single instead. And experts have already told us that financial disagreements and stress from major life changes are two of the most common reasons couples break up.
.....And buying a home presents both a huge life change and tremendous money matter.
ZipRealty therefore presents the following for house-hunting couples in the spirit of Valentine’s Day:
3 Ways to Keep the Love While You Look for a Hunt for Home
1. Know Your Finances (both of you: separately and together)
- You both need to agree on what you can afford, based on expenses and income that is fully disclosed. One of you may think a more expensive house worth sacrificing for, while the other will resent the pressure it puts on you both every month. If you both agree on what you can afford, you approach your Realtor ® and mortgage broker with a clear number in mind. This saves time and heartache as you won’t bother with most pricey homes that you likely won’t qualify for anyway or that will end up costing you more than you can comfortably invest.
- And what kind of loan works for you both? Is one of you interested in an option-ARM while the other prefers the conventional 30 year fixed? Better do the math both ways so you can each agree on a mortgage product that makes sense for your family.
- Get pre-approved! By taking the time to get pre-approved, you both-- individually and together-- present to a mortgage professional your credit and debt-to-income ratio. You will know then what kind of loan, if any, you are likely to qualify for as a couple. You also advance to “serious buyer” status and your offer will carry much more weight with a seller looking for reassurance. (Learn more about pre-approval from ZipRealty’s Learning Center.)
2. Write out your separate new home “must-haves.”
- ZipRealty has already written about the importance of knowing what you really need in a home as opposed to what you want, what you can probably live without, and what might be entirely impractical. Both you and your partner should make this list discuss common and divergent issues before house-hunting begins. really don’t want to be at open houses, bickering in front of all and sundry about counter-tops in granite. What starts out as a light-hearted difference of opinion, like the ones you used to have on lazy Sunday mornings over what music goes with pancakes, can turn quickly into a death-match where one or both sides belittles the things the other holds dear.
3. Preview What’s on the Market
- A bit like Match.com, but in this case trying to match a home that to the two of you, Internet browsing is your next step. After you agree on a working list (with perhaps a little difference here and there, but nothing that’s going to cause you hate each other later), you’re ready to preview the MLS offerings in the area you hope to buy. ZipRealty lets you search every metro we serve, and you can search by something broad like price, or by more specific desires: a yard, a fireplace, a garage, proximity to a prized school district. If you and your partner can find a few homes that seem to sufficiently meet both of your “must-have” lists, you’re a team! And as in all games, teams with players who play well together are those that cooperate because they have a common goal. And because--don’t forget this!—they like each other!
In this case, we aren’t just playing with real estate; we’re playing with relationships, so we definitely don’t want to lose. So what do you say, lovers? Here’s to finding a home… without losing the love.