Congratulations on your engagement! Getting engaged is an exciting and emotional milestone in life, signifying the beginning of a new chapter as you and your partner embark on a lifelong journey together. One of the first big decisions you’ll make as a couple is whether to purchase real estate together and, if so, what kind of home is best suited for your future life together.
My name is Angelina Spiropoulos, and I am a Real Estate Agent specializing in the Greater Boston area with Boston One Realty. I’ve had the pleasure of guiding countless engaged couples through the process of buying their first home. In this blog, I’ll share my top tips and insights on how to decide whether purchasing a home is right for you, and what to consider when hunting for your dream house.
Assess Your Financial Situation
Before jumping into the world of house hunting, it’s crucial to have an honest talk about your money. Similar to how you might talk about a prenup before getting married, being 100% transparent about how much house you can afford is crucial. Begin by reviewing your individual and any joint savings, and any debt either of you may have. Consider whether you are both financially stable enough to take on the responsibility of a mortgage, and how it may impact your future financial goals.
If you or your honey are unsure about your collective financial readiness for home ownership, it might be helpful to consult a financial professional who can help assess your situation and provide advice on how to prepare for homeownership. Owning a home is not just about the mortgage payment; you may also need to budget for property taxes, insurance, maintenance, and potential renovations. And those aren’t cheap!
Prior to moving forward, having your chosen real estate professional refer you to the right loan officer who can pre-approve you and help you gain a complete understanding of your financial situation will clarify how much house you can comfortably afford, which saves a huge step in the homebuying process. It’s comparable to grabbing your wallet prior to going to the mall to go shopping, you’ll need it if you want to buy anything!
Choose the Right Real Estate Agent
Finding a real estate agent is like finding the right therapist when handling mental health – one who understands your needs and priorities is crucial in your home buying journey. Look for an agent who is experienced in working with first-time buyers and engaged couples, and who is knowledgeable about the local market. Interview a few agents before making a decision and don’t be afraid to ask questions about their experience, approach, and success rate. The more questions you ask, the better! It’s always beneficial to really understand their value propositions as an agent and how they plan to provide a seamless client experience for you, rather than viewing from solely a transactional standpoint. A good agent will provide guidance throughout the entire process, from understanding your needs and preferences to negotiating the best deal for your new home, making you feel as comfortable as possible. They should be responsive, proactive, and willing to go the extra mile to help you find the perfect home for your future life together.
What Are Your Priorities?
As you start picturing your dream home or condo, it’s essential to discuss and prioritize your individual wants and needs. Consider factors such as the ideal location, size of the home, backyard or no backyard, number of bedrooms, and any specific features that are important to both of you. Do you prefer a fixer upper or a turnkey property? Do you value commute time more than square footage? Consider your timeline to keep you both on the same track. How soon would you like to move? All of these preferences should align with your lifestyles and should be discussed and determined sooner rather than later.
Make a list of your “have-to-haves,” “nice-to-haves” – but don’t forget about “deal-breakers” and be prepared to compromise on certain things to find a home that meets both of your needs. Having a clear understanding of your priorities will help you stay focused on what matters to you during the house-hunting process and make it easier to communicate expectations to your real estate agent.
Explore Different Neighborhoods and Property Types
As an engaged couple, you may have differing ideas about the ideal neighborhood or type of property you want to call home. It’s important to explore different options together to find the perfect fit for your lifestyle and future plans. Your prenup probably has you discussing life goals – like whether you will remain in your current city or state, move closer to family or if both of you will plan to work throughout your marriage. These factors are important to discuss when it comes to real estate, too.
Consider factors like proximity to your work location, family, and friends, as well as access to schools, parks, and shopping centers. Want kids? Make sure you are considering what will be important to you in the future, too. Visit different neighborhoods at various times of the day and week to get a feel for the community and lifestyle each area offers. Take walks. Talk to people in the neighborhood.
Think about the type of property that best suits your needs. Is it a single-family home, townhouse, or condominium? Each option has its pros and cons. Think about the level of maintenance and privacy you desire, and how much outdoor space you’d like to have.
Plan for the Future
While it’s important to find a home that meets your criteria, it’s also crucial to consider your long-term life goals and how your home will help facilitate a path to those dreams. As a soon-to-be-married couple, you may have plans for career changes, starting a family, or even pursuing new hobbies that require additional space.
When searching for a home, ask yourselves the following questions:
- Will this home allow for us to reach our family goals, or will we outgrow it quickly?
- Is the neighborhood suitable for raising children, with access to good schools and parks?
- Does the property have potential for expansion or renovation if needed?
- Are there opportunities for career growth in the area, or will we need to consider moving again in the future?
- What are the additional costs we will need to pay to live in any specific place, like taxes or HOA fees?
Taking the time to think about these important considerations will help you find a home that not only fits your needs today, but also supports your long-term vision for your life together.
Discuss Ownership and Legal Considerations
Before finalizing your home purchase, you must discuss how you will hold the title to the property and what legal implications this may have, especially if you are an engaged (or planning to get engaged) couple. There are different ways to hold the title, such as joint tenants, tenants in common, or as community property (depending on the state you live in). A prenup may address how you hold title to the property as well. Consult a licensed attorney if you have questions about how you should hold title.
Cheers! Time to Celebrate, Love Birds!
Finally, once you’ve navigated the home buying process and found the perfect home for your future life together, it’s time to celebrate! Moving into your new home is a significant milestone that marks the beginning of a new chapter in your life as a couple. Congratulations!!!
Take the time to create memories in your new space, and make it truly feel like a reflection of your love and commitment to each other. Enjoy the journey of turning your house into a home, and cherish the moments that will become the foundation of your life together.
Buying a home as an engaged couple is an exciting and sometimes challenging experience. By taking the time to assess your financial situation, determine your priorities, and plan for the future, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate the home buying process together. By working together and planning ahead, you’ll soon find the perfect home to begin your new life as a married couple. Happy house hunting!
Angelina Spiropoulos brings extensive knowledge, unshakeable drive, and a fresh perspective to the real estate industry with experience in luxury sales, rental, and new developing markets. In addition to real estate, Angelina possesses experience working in marketing, event planning, and sales, bringing valuable expertise to support new and forward-thinking strategies, and providing clients with exceptional service that ensures each transaction is executed with distinctive care and discretion.