Buying a home means starting a new phase of your life. It’s big, it can be scary, and it’s tough to make decisions. Add a second person into that mix and it can be overwhelming! Here are a few tips to get started if you and a significant other are buying your first home together:
1) Get organized. Financing will be the first hurdle you face and it’s important that you are both open and honest about your savings, debts, budgets, and credit ratings. It’s important that you both be comfortable not only with your share of the mortgage and other housing expenses, but with the rest of your budgets too, since coming up short at the end of the month may now affect whether you have a roof over your heads!
2) Independently, list your “must haves.” Then, sit down together and compare lists to make sure you’re not contradicting each other. Go to open houses together to discuss which parts of the house you liked and didn’t like. Make sure the houses you’re previewing are in your price range! Consult your agent if you are finding that you disagree on some of the key factors–a good agent will be able to discuss different floorplans, potential renovation projects, and alternatives that would be a nice compromise.
3) Consider how you will take title (joint tenants with rights of survivorship or tenants in common), and what will happen if one of you wants to sell. I know it’s not romantic, but being part of a couple means you have to be practical sometimes. How will you split the equity (or loss) accrued? It’s imperative to put your understanding into a binding written agreement – hire a lawyer to do this! Though it may seem morbid, also include what happens if one of you were to pass away or otherwise become incapacitated. This is a good time to update your wills to ensure consistency with your agreement.
You’ll be learning a lot about each other throughout this process. Be patient!