Whether you’re engaged or newly married, buying your first home together is a big step.
To help you get the facts, Real Estate Broker, Arlene Di Lulio, of Albion Reality Inc., is here to shed some light on what every couple needs to know before buying a home.With more than 20 years in the real estate business, Di Lulio says saving is the biggest asset for any couple.
TRB: What should couples discuss with each other before buying a home? Arlene: Finances are a very important discussion. Couples should have the same long term goals, such as saving towards a mortgage and down payment. Agreeing on location and size are also important factors.
TRB: How important is it for couples to save? Arlene: Huge. The more a couple can save for a down payment, the better off they’ll be in the long run. It’ll give them more freedom to make choices – since there’s already enough costs to living such as car payments and getting over wedding expenses.
TRB: How can couples save? Arlene: We’ve seen couples tone down the wedding and instead of all the gift money going towards paying off the wedding, it goes toward a down payment on a house. Sometimes exchanging a more elaborate wedding for a gift from mom and dad, such as a down payment on a house, is worth it.
TRB: How much should a couple save? Arlene: If couples can get 10 per cent down that’s great. If they’re looking at an average starter home, whether it’s a condo in the city or a town house in the suburbs, a ballpark range is about $300,000, so $30,000 minimum savings is a good start. Don’t forget there’s still all the extra costs on top of that so couples will have to tuck away at least another $5,000- 10,000 for closing costs.
TRB: What are some common mistakes newlyweds makes when buying a house? Arlene: Impulse buying or buying beyond their means. Couples should pay off their student loans and get their credit cards down to nothing. When couples don’t do their homework ahead of time, they often find their dream home, only to be heartbroken when they find out it isn’t attainable. Always get pre-approved and get a full credit rating so there are no unexpected surprises.
Never buy the first house you see. Shop around the area. Go look at one, two or three dozen homes. Couples should bring someone whose judgment they trust; someone who can take a candid look and ask, “Are you sure you want to commute an hour and a half to work, or live near a busy highway.”
Don’t be disillusioned by staged homes. Imagine the house empty. A lot of couples walk into a home and look at the pretty furniture and artwork and miss the scratched hardwood floors or stained ceilings.
TRB: What about buying a home before the wedding? Arlene: Get legal input. I’ve unfortunately seen it where the wedding doesn’t happen and then what does the couple do? They’ve now bought this asset and committed together on a five year mortgage, and now they’re stuck. If it’s prior to the wedding, couples should get a prenuptial agreement or have some sort of contract in place.
TRB: Should couples wait until after their married to buy a home? Arlene: If couples see the right house and their finances are in place, than go for it, but get some legal advice. Have clear boundaries and establish clear rules in case the marriage doesn’t proceed.
TRB: Why is it important to have a Real Estate agent? Arlene: Buying a house is such a big decision and you want someone you can trust and who won’t push you into the first house that comes along. You want somebody that’s on your side and will work for you and be patient. A lot of young couples walk into the first house and say, “Oh wow, where do I sign.” They need somebody that’s going to take them aside and say, “Hold on, is this really what you want?” Your real estate agent should be an objective third party.
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