House Hunting and Staying a Happy Couple

Buying as a couple is definitely the ultimate commitment.  Not only are you willing to show serious commitment to your partner, but you are also opening up major discussions like finances and future plans. Buying as a couple can be a tedious and stressful process if you and your partner have not sat down and honestly discussed your expectations.  As a realtor, I cannot stress enough the importance for couples to discuss how much you want to spend (don’t forget, your preapproval is not taking into consideration your other living expenses), where you see yourself/family in the future, and your current financial status.  Opposing wants and needs isn’t the only thing that goes into buying as a happy couple, so be sure to discuss as much as possible with your partner before taking this big step.  If you aren’t sure where to start, this article is for you! Below I will discuss my best tips for buying a home and remaining a happy couple.

Tip number One: Discuss your finances! If you are coming to the home-buying table with some debt, whether it be student loan debt, credit card debt, or personal loans, it will impact your buying process.  You have to be honest with your buying partner of how much debt you currently have and how much you are paying on this debt.  When you apply for your preapproval, the bank will run a scan of your credit and your debt will come up.  If your partner does not know about that $14,000 credit card bill that you “forgot” about, you may want to discuss that before the bank spills the beans.  It’s important to be upfront with what you owe and how much you can afford to pay for a house and living expenses in the long run.  I cannot tell you how many couples begin looking for homes only to find they cannot actually afford a mortgage payment, living expenses (groceries, cable,  etc.), and to continue to pay on student loans, credit cards, etc.  Be honest and this will lead to much better communication and expectations in the home-buying process.

Tip number Two: Get your preapproval done sooner than later.  I have discussed the importance of a preapproval in a previous post but, again, get this done before you begin looking at houses.  Your preapproval is going to show you how much you can afford in a mortgage payment.  Again, your preapproval is for a mortgage payment and sometimes location taxes and home insurance are included to give you an idea of your monthly expense.  Once you get your preapproval done and have had the finance discussion with your partner, you should be able to know how much you can truly afford in a monthly payment.  Don’t forget to figure in groceries, cable, internet, loan payments, utility bills, car payments, home insurance, and of course play money!  There is never anything wrong with spending less than your preapproval says you can spend! 

Tip number Three: Hire a licensed real estate agent and remember a buyer does not pay for an agent!  Most people set out on their home-buying journey using various home-search sites (i.e. Zillow, Realtor.com, etc.).  Agents can market themselves on these websites so a buyer does have easy access to a realtor.  However, I do caution potential clients, the agent you get on these sites might not be the right agent for you!  Additionally, please remember, if you are working with an agent do not select the option to contact an agent.  This means you are sending a message to the agent advertising on the page.  If you like a home, contact the agent you are working with and she will retrieve the information.  Note: most buyers do not know, real estate agents are not using home search sites for information.  We use a separate system called the Multiple Listing System (MLS).  The information in the MLS is directly from a realtor and seller.  It is not siphoned information from years past.  It is accurate information directly at the fingertips of a real estate agent.  We can see taxes, property condition disclosures, home information, history of the home, and a whole lot more!  Why rely on Zillow for inaccuracy when you can just call or text your agent?!

Tip number Four:  Discuss what you are looking for in a home and how it will fit your future.  It’s totally normal for couples to have opposing styles and/or wants in a home, but typically the needs are the same.  Most needs come down to functioning kitchens, how many bathrooms are needed, how many bedrooms, basements, etc.  Be sure to discuss with your partner your needs and be sure to stay on the same page throughout the buying journey.  In fact, this is from personal experience.  Try not to be dazzled by some bells and whistles that will throw you off of your “needs list.”  If you truly need a three-bedroom home, buy a three-bedroom home, you never know what your future holds!  As for your “wants”…wants will always vary and an agent is ready to handle opposition and hopefully we succeed in finding a home you both like.  Don’t be too deterred if you and your partner have different ideas of a dream home.  Your needs and budget should take precedence!

Final Tip number Five:  Enjoy the process and be positive!  We are in a crazy real estate market and there is a good chance you will submit an offer(s) and it won’t be accepted.  Not to be the Debbie Downer, but this is part of the process!  Yes, it can be stressful.  Yes, it can really stink when you don’t get a house, but when you finally have an accepted offer it will feel like the best thing in the world.  Don’t get discouraged and stay positive.  When two people are positive through the buying journey it makes for a better overall experience and makes for an even better memory! 

Thanks for reading!

-GG

Gina Garlock