You’ve said “yes” and you’ve set the date now it’s time to start thinking about where you and your new spouse will begin your life together. You’ll need to evaluate your finances, lifestyle, and future plans before you start touring potential homes.
Can you afford it?
Before you say “I do” to any home you should review your budget and credit history to determine if a mortgage payment can fit. Seeking a mortgage pre-approval from a qualified lender is the next step. The lender will determine what you can qualify for and how much home you will be able to finance. You can read our guide about how to prepare for home ownership for more details on your budget and other decisions you’ll need to make.
The long or short term?
Deciding how long you plan to stay in your perspective home will also help you determine what kind of house and in what neighborhood you’ll want to buy. If your intention is for this home to be a started for just the two of you, a smaller home in a more active & urban area may better suit your needs. You’ll also want to keep the amount of money you invest in a starter home low so you can maximize the appreciation when you sell. Turn-key homes are the best for these situations since they require almost no repairs or home improvement other than a fresh coat of paint to suit your decor choices.
If you are planning on your purchase being your forever home, you should consider what your needs and wants will be in the years to come. If you are planning to expand your family at some point, larger backyards, well-rated schools, neighborhoods with an active community, and easy access to parks and other recreation by foot may be amenities to consider when searching. Properties that need major updates or construction or have the option of adding on to them later on may be more appealing since you have the time to invest and budget accordingly for such projects.
Before or after?
The last thing you will want to consider is when to buy your home. Do you want to buy before or after your wedding? If your wedding is a year or more away you may want to close on your home before rather than after your wedding so you can settle into it while you’re not swept away in wedding planning. Depending on the financial demands of your wedding, however, you may want to avoid depleting all of your savings at one time. Mortgage companies will want to see a healthy savings account and low debt when underwriting your loan. If one of the spouses plans on changing their last name after the wedding it could delay closing while waiting for all the necessarily documents and records to reflect the new last name. And if you take title jointly before the wedding and a name change does occur, you’ll need to record a quit claim deed reflecting the name change at a later date should you refinance your property.
And as with any real estate transaction, you should find a licensed Realtor who is an expert in the location that you want to call home.