You’ve completed that stroll down the aisle. Honeymoon? Done.
The next big step? Buying your first home together.
Buying a home with your spouse could either simplify or complicate an already tricky process. Consider these tips when buying your first home together:
1. Shop together. Shop often.
When buying your first home, it’s almost impossible to spend too much time window-shopping together. Go on lots of home tours. Pore over new listings. Clip pictures out of magazines. Figure out what you can and can’t live without in your next home.
It’s vital to discuss your preferences often. Try this exercise: Pick a room in your future home and separately make a list of your “must-haves” for that room. Compare your lists and talk about the similarities and differences. Figure out what compromises can be made so that you’ll both be satisfied homebuyers.
Most importantly: Be honest. Don’t hide your true feelings and preferences. If you’ve changed your mind about wanting a huge backyard, say so. Most homebuyers these days stay in their homes for nine years. You want those nine years to be comfortable and enjoyable, right?
2. Consider credit issues for BOTH of you
Your bills are always paid on time. Your credit score soars in the upper echelon. How did you fall in love with someone with bad credit?
All VA loan borrowers and co-borrowers will be under close credit scrutiny by a lender. Credit scores for both borrowers have to measure up to the 620 minimum. Income, employment and debts for all borrowers will be analyzed.
If your spouse lags far behind you in creditworthiness, you might consider obtaining a loan in your name alone. This action involves some legal consequences that vary from state to state, so make sure to get a real estate attorney’s advice before proceeding.
3. Don’t overspend
Buying your first home with your spouse can be the most thrilling time of your life. You picture dogs rambling in your first backyard and kids pedaling bikes down the driveway.
Somewhere along the line, budgeting tumbles to the bottom of the priority list.
Don’t let a home bankrupt your family. Determine the mortgage payment that you can comfortably make each month and stick to that figure. Keep in mind that as a homeowner, you’re responsible for repairs and maintenance, which can also be costly. Maintain a reserve fund for repairs and keep a few months of mortgage payments stashed away in case of emergency.
4. Have fun!
If you and your spouse are not shopaholics by nature, you may need a little motivation to get your house hunt started. Pack a picnic basket full of goodies to enjoy during a day of house tours. Splurge on a dark chocolate mocha for your next meeting with your agent. Post pictures of your home tours online and ask your friends and family for feedback. Enjoying your time together is key to both a successful relationship and a successful house hunt!
To learn more about the VA mortgage process as a first-time homebuyer, check out this helpful guide.
Photo courtesy of Jon Day