What comes first? The house or the ring?
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Whether you and your partner plan to buy before or after you’re married, it’s never too early to start thinking about your first home. For those of you who missed us at the KOOL 105’s Wedding Expo in Burlington, here are some things to consider when buying your first home as a couple: When is the right time to buy, before or after the wedding? There’s no right answer here. Though 1 in 4 married couples between the ages of 18 and 34 purchase a home together before they’re married, friends and family will tell you that there is too much stress involved with buying a home AND planning your wedding.
Buying a home before you’re married certainly has its advantages though. On the other hand, your wedding and your first home are likely the most substantial financial commitments you will make together (let’s cross the college fund bridge when we get there). Stacking these two life decisions one after the other might not be the most prudent course of action. Here’s what you should consider when deciding to purchase a home before or after you say ‘I Do.’
Your finances are the first thing you should consider. Can you realistically pay for a house and a wedding? Cost of a wedding
The cost of a wedding can add up quickly. Even if you set a budget, you may find that costs balloon out of control. If you are planning on reserving your dream wedding venue and putting a down-payment on your dream home then make sure you set a hard ceiling for your wedding expenses.
Cost of a home
Beyond the down payment and your monthly mortgage payments, there are other fees you must consider. Closing costs, HOA fees, insurance, maintenance, and taxes all add up. Weigh your wedding costs against the full cost of a home and make sure the purchase is something you can handle before you incur the costs of your wedding.
Combined Credit vs Single Credit
Marriage is all about communication. Discussing your credit scores before you get married is a great exercise in communication. If you have stellar credit, but your partner is lacking, you should consider buying before you’re married. Including your partner on the application could impact your ability to secure a loan. However, without your combined income, you may qualify for a lower loan amount, limiting your purchase power. It might be best to sit tight and take a few years to improve your combined credit to make sure you can afford that dream home.
*Speaking of credit, leading into your wedding day, refrain from maxing out your credit cards to cover the catering and centerpieces. High-interest, revolving credit can negatively impact your credit score and take considerable time to repair. Even if you are holding off on buying a home until after you are married, do your best to pay your wedding vendors in cash or pay off those credit cards immediately.
We said it earlier, but we can’t stress it enough. When you buy a home with your partner, before or after you get married, it is crucial that you communicate. If you decide to buy your home before you are married, then you should consider your Title Options and ask yourselves what will happen if the marriage doesn’t end amicably. Have the hard conversations now to save heartache down the road.
You must consider the timing of it all! Between the whirlwind of planning a wedding, the current market climate, and your needs today vs. your needs tomorrow it could be the right time to jump on that fixer-upper you’ve always wanted.
Sit down with your partner and communicate (there it is again) where you will be heading as a couple. If your partner thinks they want kids in the next three years, then you need to pay more attention to your desired neighborhoods and school districts. If you know you will be moving in 3-5 years, then you should focus more on resale value. You don’t need a drawn-out roadmap, but you should have an idea of where you want your family to be in 5 years.
Timely Decision Making
After considering your finances and thinking about your future together, you might feel you are ready to buy before your “Big Day.” But if your wedding is less than three months away, odds are you won’t be closing until a few months after you tie the knot. If you know you want to buy your first home together before your wedding day, then make sure you are prepared for the next steps. This includes talking to a mortgage-lender and interviewing buyer’s agents. Being prepared will give you an edge on other buyers in the market.
The last piece of timing is out of your control. You must consider the current market climate and the inventory of homes available. After working through all of the previous considerations, you may get to a point where your dream home hits the open market a year before your wedding day. If you are prepared and your finances are in order, it could be in your best interest to close on your home well before you walk down the aisle.
If you are still sitting on the fence and are not sure when you and your partner should buy here are things you certainly can do well before you tie the knot:
Plan Your Finances & Start Saving
Get your books in order. Create a budget for your wedding and see if there's even room for a down payment. With all of your finances written down and in the open you can start cutting expenses and start saving. You might also realize that your destination wedding isn’t worth the price of a down-payment on your future home. Take the time now to map your finances, and you will find the decision on when to buy a home will work itself out.
Start Building a Shared Wish List
Again it comes to communication. In the midst of planning your wedding you can both start window shopping for the neighborhoods you know you both like. Sit down together and write your combined wish list for your new home. Two bedrooms or three? Lake or mountain views? Many couples find that buying a house together strengthens their bond considerably. Starting your home search before you are married will only bring you closer as you approach your big day.
Start a Conversation with a Vermont Real Estate Company Realtor
Calling a Vermont Real Estate Company team member will help you uncover all the options available to you and lay out the road map for closing on your future home. With us by your side you can focus on every one of those wedding details while we help with your home search, negotiate on your behalf, and guide you through the home buying process.