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Newlyweds: How to Buy Your Dream House

by Brooks & Davis Real Estate Firm, LLC

The wedding day was perfection, the honeymoon was even better, but now you are back at home facing a series of decisions to be made as a couple.  Perhaps the most difficult of those, is the decision to buy a new home. 

  1. Choosing the Right Fit - The first step in the home buying game is very likely the most fun.  That is the choosing the right house to make into a home together.  This is a very emotional game.  While you can look at as many print outs and computer images as you would like, nothing will give the true look and feel of the house without visiting it.  While you should always feel free to walk through open houses, it is a good idea (especially for first time buyers) to use a real estate agent.  These professionals have access to nearly all houses for sale and can narrow results for you based on the criteria that fit your needs.  But, better than that is the fact that they will help you to write an official offer, with the negotiations, and with the buying timeline. Although you haven’t found it yet, in your mind, it’s perfect! Open floor plan, granite countertops, and a walk-in closet … the works!

Not to burst your bubble, but let’s take a step back. You are buying your very first home. It may be great, but chances are it won’t be your dream home. In fact, you may be one or two more home purchases and moves away from your “dream home.” And that‘s okay. The key to finding the right first home purchase for you is striking the right balance of a home that comes as close to your dream home requirements as possible, but still stays within your budget.

Starter Home

The term “starter home” exists for a reason. At the height of the housing market craziness, and right before the bubble burst, many first-time home buyers jumped over the starter home and into a bonafide dream home. Now, we are all painfully aware of how that all turned out. You have to accept that your first house is probably not going to be the one you’ll live in for the rest of your life. That’s okay! And the thought of what lies ahead should be exciting! When you think about the fact that your future holds salary increases and smart savings plans, the opportunity to move up becomes more real. When you’re ready to jump up to a larger, dreamier home, this first home can provide you with the funds for that purchase.

House to Condo

Yes, you are going to need to narrow down your search at some point, but as you begin to play with the choices, keep an open mind. You may be thinking about a house, but there might be a great condo with a cool balcony, a stunning view, and great amenities that could be just as dreamy. For your budget, a condo or even townhouse might get you closer to your dreams than a single family home.

Older vs New Construction

According to a recent Trulia trends report, twice as many people prefer new homes over existing homes. “New” means new construction, or homes purchased in pre-construction while “existing” means a house someone else has lived in. In many parts of the country, especially the East, Northeast and South, many of these “existing” homes are homes built anywhere from the 1920s – 1970s. For the same price, 2 in 5 of Americans (41%) strongly prefer to buy a newly-built home over an existing home. However, most new construction homes could cost you up to 20% more than a comparable older house. Buying an older home could add up to big savings and allow you to get a bigger piece of the “dream” than a brand new one.

The Fixer

I am a huge proponent of buying a home that you can add value to, rather than paying the bigger price tag to someone else who had the work done for you. Offsetting a big price tag with some sweat equity is a very smart move. In addition, you can get much more home for your dollar, and have the option to fix up and improve it as time goes on and as you have the available cash to fund the renovations. Plus, all that original older architectural detail that comes with many fixer-uppers is a dream in the making.

  1. Soothing the Financing Fears - Let’s face it, for the vast majority of buyers, the main fear in buying a home is the assumption of loan payments.  Most mortgages are written for thirty years, and when one stops to consider re-financing in the future and secondary mortgages, those loans can last even longer than that, so it is important to ensure that you stay within a realistic budget.  It is always wise to consult a mortgage broker before looking at houses.  There is no point in getting your hopes up about the “perfect house” before you know if you can afford it.  Mortgage brokers shop around to find you the best lending deal and give you pre-approval for an amount they determine to be the high end of your buying power.  That should also mean to you that the amount you are pre-approved is not necessarily meant to be the price you buy at, as you may want to stay within a safer range.

  1. Getting to the Close - Remember, the majority of house transactions come with minor complications along the way.  So do not assume that you have the house just because you put it under contract.  You will likely have to face other difficult decisions, stressful changes in schedule, and other obstacles before you reach the finish line- closing day.  But, it will all be worth it when you walk through the doors of your very own home for the first time.  Be sure to savor the momentous occasion with photos and maybe a candle lit take-out dinner on the floor of the empty house that is now your home!

The Secret to a Happy Marriage is Talking to Each Other

by Brooks & Davis Real Estate Firm, LLC

The secret to a happy marriage is talking to each other

  • A great sex life only came 18th in the list of key advice for newlyweds
  • Surprisingly 'don't get married' also featured on the list
  • Just three per cent mentioned being faithful in their words of wisdom

By KATY WINTER FOR MAILONLINE

 

Newlyweds, are you rushing home to your loved one, ready to fling off your coats and get on that sofa...for a good natter?

Well you should be, because, forget sex -  the secret of a happy marriage is real conversation.

A study of 2,000 men and women who have been married for a decade or more revealed their best single piece of advice to newlyweds was that it's good to talk.

Surprisingly a good sex life came 18th, trailing behind patience, honesty, respect and fidelity.

 

The second-placed piece of advice was to compromise, followed by 'keep going' and persevere with the marriage, despite tough times and obstacles.

Only one per cent of respondents specifically mentioned the importance of a good sex life.

The research quizzed long standing couples on the secrets of how to survive 10 years of marriage.

Interestingly just three per cent mentioned being faithful in their words of wisdom while other nuggets of advice to newlyweds was to 'keep working on it', 'listen' and 'have patience'.

Reinforcing the importance of keeping things light, another popular piece of advice was to 'have a good sense of humor' and 'keep laughing'.

Another often-quoted piece of advice was 'never go to sleep on an argument'.

There were some unexpected pieces of advice too, with a number of people simply stating 'don't get married', while others cautioned: 'don't let the in-laws interfere'.

Children were also a bone of contention for some couples, with a small number of people advising 'don't have children', while others said: 'don't have kids until you have saved up loads of money' or 'don't have kids straight away'.

Those who go into marriage hoping to change their partners were given a dose of reality, with the advice: 'Don't have unrealistic expectations of changing someone to suit yourself'.

Remembering that a marriage lasts well beyond the wedding day was another popular theme with couples being urged to stick at their relationship and 'expect the ups and downs, it's not all a bed of roses, but don't give up too easily'.

Sarah Thompson, a lawyer for Slater & Gordon, who commissioned the study, said: 'What's clear from my work as a family lawyer is that marriage can be hard work?

'When I speak to clients about the reasons their relationship has ended, it's often for the same reasons: problems communicating and not being able to compromise.

'Sadly, despite the best intentions in the world, not every marriage will last forever. That is why I'm delighted that Slater & Gordon is now offering lawyer-supported mediation to couples who would like to sort out their differences at the end of their relationship away from the courts.

'As this research has shown, communication and compromise can be the key to a happy marriage, but they are also the attributes that can help resolve a relationship that is over in the best possible way for all parties involved.'

The top twenty tips for a long and happy relationship

1. Talk

2. Compromise

3. Keep going

4. Work at it

5. Don’t give up on the marriage too easily

6. Don’t go to bed on an argument

7. Be patient

8. Listen

9. Be honest

10. Have respect

11. Be tolerant

12. Have realistic expectations

13. Don’t get married

14. Do things together

15. Communicate

16. Be tolerant

17. Be faithful

18. Have a good sex life

19. Be friends

20. Give each other space 

When Should Newlyweds Buy Their First House?

by Brooks & Davis Real Estate Firm, LLC

By DUSTIN

So, you are newly married (or preparing for marriage) and ready to get off on the right foot financially.

Everything you have heard leads you to believe that you should purchase a house as soon as possible rather than “throw your money away” on rent.
A house is your biggest investment and the basis for long-term wealth building.
Prices are down, tax credits are available, and everyone from your uncle to your real estate agent are urging you to act now…NOW!
Not so fast.
While I agree with each of the reasons above, this does not mean that you should purchase your first home as soon as you return from the honeymoon (or even before your wedding). Trust me, while having a good understanding of your personal tax prep software is always a good asset, it is going to take a lot more than a few tax credits to make buying a house feasible.
Based on my own first-hand experience and the extensive reading that I have done on this topic, I urge you to consider two primary questions before you buy a house (and one is not even a financial consideration).


Are You Ready Financially?


I think most engaged and newlywed couples know that they need to consider their finances before they decide to buy a house.
Typically, this thinking is focused on figuring out the bare minimum credentials that a mortgage broker will require before approving them for a loan.
This is the wrong mindset.  Please do not set your financial sights on just sneaking under the limbo bar of mortgage underwriting requirements.
Trust me when I tell you that mortgage brokers and real estate agents will approve you for a much larger home loan that you should actually take on…even after the recent subprime mortgage meltdown.
I strongly advocate a more conservative approach that generally follows (I’m a bit more lax) the advice of one my financial role models, Dave Ramsey, whose books Financial Peace and The Total Money Makeover have shaped my own approach to personal finance.
Here are the financial goals you should meet before you pursue your first home purchase:
•    Have a solid credit score; 750 or higher should get you the best mortgage rates.  Alternatively, have no credit score because you don’t borrow money and get a manually underwritten mortgage.
•    Have at least 5-10% of the purchase price to apply as a down payment (in addition to closing costs).
•    Ideally, become totally debt-free, but at a minimum you should pay off all unsecured consumer debt.
•    Have an emergency fund of 3-6 months of household expenses saved up.
•    Only take on a mortgage where your total payment (including taxes and insurance) will be no more than 25- 30% of your monthly take-home pay based on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage.
Basically, if you follow the step-by-step Married Money Management plan, you’ll be ready to thrive.
I know that my advice will seem conservative compared to what you will receive from many, especially those with a vested interest in getting you to buy a house, and a big house, as soon as possible.
However, please consider that my interest is squarely focused in helping you have a happy and successful marriage.
 

If you stick within these guidelines, you can be confident that you won’t become house-poor and have your home ownership dream turn into a nightmare!


Are You Sure this is Where You Want to Live? 

While most couples take the time to evaluate their finances (or are forced to by the lender), many do not properly contemplate the permanency that comes with buying a house.
Generally, you will need to stay in your house for at least two years (preferably five years) in order to make the costs work out.
In other words, you are going to be in the house for a long time if you don’t want to lose a bunch of money on Realtor fees, closing costs, etc.


I strongly advocate waiting to buy a house for at least a year after you get married.


I think you will need that much time to be able to best answer questions like these:
•    Will our careers keep us in this general area?
•    Are we each comfortable with the daily commute that will be required?
•    Is this neighborhood up-and-coming and do other young couples live here?
•    Given we’ll be here for a while (and maybe you have children already), is this the school district we want to send our children?
•    Are we an appropriate distance from our mothers-in-law!?!
If you take a solid year to let your marriage mature, you will have much better answers to these questions.  Plus, there is something to be said for renting and remaining free of the responsibilities of mowing, maintenance, painting, etc. so you can just enjoy your new spouse and focus on your new life together.

Mistakes to Avoid Buying a House as a Newlywed

by Brooks & Davis Real Estate Firm, LLC

For most people, their wedding is a magical time, full of enchantment and wonder. But sadly, during that time, the bride and groom often try to make life plans at the same time they're planning their special day. This can cause important issues to get missed or pushed under the rug.

One of the most common things couples often discuss when planning their wedding is buying their first home. Now, I don't have to tell you that buying a home is a topic best dealt with on its own, but when the love bug bites, it can often make its way into the wedding preparations. This is a huge mistake. In fact, this type of mass newlywed hysteria can cause some couples to make very costly mistakes when they decide to purchase their home.

Buying a house is a major investment that requires your attention, time, and money. So, for starters, you should make sure you're prepared to take on the challenge. Then, you need to make yourself aware of the pitfalls that many newlywed home buyers has come across. Here are some mistakes to avoid.

Failing to Budget

One of the first steps couples should make when buying a home is determining how much money they have to reasonably spend on a home. Too many couples have no idea what they can afford and start looking at homes that are out of their price range. As a result, they can end up digging themselves a hole. Either they won't get approved for a loan or they will be unable to make their monthly mortgage payments.

What newlyweds should do is figure out how much they can afford in a down payment and how much they can spend in mortgage payments on a monthly basis.

Neglecting to Get a Pre-Approved Loan

Many newlyweds believe that they should find a house first and then worry about financing. But you should actually get pre-approved for a home loan before you pick out the home you'd like to buy. Real estate experts suggest doing this as a way of convincing home sellers that you're serious and trustworthy. Without the pre-approved loan, they might not approve your offer over someone else's.

Being Unaware of Credit Checks

As newlyweds, you might be bogged down with student loans, car loans, and credit card debt, all of which can create a problem for you when you try to get that pre-approved home loan. You should check your credit score (which you can do easily for free on various Web sites, such as Annual Credit Report). Credit scores, which indicate how likely you are to pay your bills on time, range between 300 and 850. Any score below 700 could use improvement, according to gotcredit.com. Your aim should be to pay off debts and to avoid spending more than you have. If your credit score is not where it should be, and you have too many debts, you might consider waiting to buy a home. Pay things off and save up and then seek a home later. It could make your life and finances less complicated.

 

Buying your first home is an exciting, yet daunting affair. Don't short change the process or you could find yourself spending much more on your mortgage than you should. Keep the wedding plans separate from the home buying dreams and by giving each their own due, you'll find much more happiness and fulfillment in each of these life changing events.

How to Make It Last a Lifetime?

by Brooks & Davis Real Estate Firm, LLC

 After the big engagement there comes the planning of the wedding. Some people attend classes or workshops to help them understand one another before saying the big words “I do”. After completing the classes then it’s the BIG DAY. The big day is filled with excitement, laughs, smiles, tears, and lots of joy. Once everyone is gone it now the time for you and your spouse to enjoy being with one another. After a few weeks, months or even years pass you think about how huge of a commitment getting married really is, and you wonder how to make sure that this lasts a lifetime.

Thanks to the article 17 Things Married People Want Newlyweds To Know and Reddit thread, a recent survey was given to some couples that have been married for many years and they were asked to share their advice for making a marriage work for the long haul.

  1. "Love is an action verb. Love your spouse actively, every day."
  2. "Argue all you want, but it shouldn't be you vs. your SO. It should be you (TOGETHER) vs. the problem."
  3. "There is more than one right way to do something (e.g. load the dishwasher, fold the laundry, etc.)."
  4. "Never stop dating your spouse."
  5. "When you are angry and having a fight, refrain from calling your spouse names of any kind."
  6. "Make sure that you make time for sex."
  7. "Choose your battles. Sometimes you just need to breathe and carry on. Communication. Communication. Communication."
  8. "Always have each other's back in public. Never belittle your spouse. Have all the disagreements people normally do but let the world know you two are best friends."
  9. "Show appreciation! Always say thank you, even for little things. Being married to someone doesn't make you entitled to anything that they do for you."
  10. "Arguing occurs when being right is more important than listening to your spouse."
  11. "Always assume the other person has the best intentions. Let the small stuff go. Never stop being considerate or doing small gestures 'just because.'"
  12. "No matter how bad the fight, how frustrated you are, look for something to be thankful for in your spouse. It will help calm you and give you a second to clear your head."
  13. "Kiss each other EVERYDAY."
  14. "Never stop listening."
  15. "No one argues well at midnight. So sometimes it is ok to go to bed angry. Consider it a timeout to regroup."
  16. "You must remember: You're not in a battle. You're not boxing. You are not opponents. You are working towards a common cause: A happy, healthy, productive life together."
  17. "You put her first, she puts you first. If you're always more concerned about her needs than your own, and she's more concerned about your needs than her own, you won't have many problems."

The Things To Do After Saying "I do!"

by Brooks & Davis Real Estate Firm, LLC

The dress. The makeup. The bridal party. The music. The dancing. The tears. The love. Who doesn’t love a good wedding? For many people, that is where all of the attention was focused on. Who really thinks about those word lifetime? Now that you have said “I do” make sure you consider these things to take care of after the wedding.

The Marriage Certificate

Depending on the type of ceremony you have, the minister (or person who legally married you) will likely send the signed marriage license to the state or county. In the event that they do not, this is something you want to do immediately after the wedding.

You’ll also need a few copies of this if you’re changing your name, so make note of any instructions on how to do this.

Clean and Preserve Your Dress (or Tux)

Most dry cleaning companies can easily clean and preserve your dress or tuxedo. My mom was a huge help and actually dropped mine off for me after I left for the honeymoon. That way it was ready for me to pick up when I got back.

Changing Your Name

This is an extremely personal decision, but if you do decide that you want to legally change your name know that it’s not as hard as you think it is. That’s right, I said it’s not that hard!

Thanks to websites like MissNowMrs.com, this is a pretty painless process. If you don’t want to pay for all of the forms, this is the general checklist:

  • Social Security Number (you have to do this first)
  • Driver’s License, State ID, Passport
  • Any credit cards or loans (student, car, etc.)
  • Your lease or mortgage

For most of these items, you’ll need a copy of your marriage certificate.

Update Your Information

This is in the same vein as changing your name. If you move into a new home, you’ll want to submit an address change. You may also choose to put all bills in both your and your spouse’s name – or even just add the other person to your account.

You’ll also want to update and/or combine insurance providers (health, life, home), as well as look into your retirement accounts.

Taxes

I was married in April, so we had a full year to determine how we wanted to handle our tax situation. If you’re getting married in the winter, you may not have as much time prepare.

My suggestion is to have the conversation early – perhaps before you get married. That way you know if you’re filing together or individually.

Settle Into New Roles

Believe it or not, there is an adjustment period after you get married. This can be particularly obvious if you didn’t live with your now spouse before the wedding day, but many couples that lived together before still experience it (guilty!). It’s a natural adjustment period that varies from couple to couple.

If you’re struggling with this, my suggestion is to talk it out or seek external guidance. Communication really is key in all relationships.

Enjoy Your New Life

Don’t get too wrapped up in all of the details of post-marriage. Marriage is a fun and exciting time, so embrace and enjoy the change – remember, you’re only newlyweds for so long.

Now That You Have Said "I Do!" Let's Build Up Your Finances

by Brooks & Davis Real Estate Firm, LLC

So you have said "I do."

Remember when you spoke those words at your wedding? Perhaps it was in front of family and friends. Or maybe it was just the two of you on a beach or in front of a justice of the peace.

At that moment, you probably weren't thinking about savings and checking accounts, stocks and other investments or credit scores. You were thinking, "This is the happiest day of my life."

Well, not so fast.

While being married has put you in a state of bliss, you need to come down off of your cloud for a minute and have a conversation with your partner about finances. In fact, I'd love to help you and your partner secure a solid and happy financial future together, now and forever. Just follow these tips.

Steps to Build Up Your Finances

1. Review bank accounts, credit scores and credit card statements.

Gather your bank statements, credit scores and credit card statements and compare notes. How much money do the both of you have? What are your credit scores? What are your credit card balances? Review all of this information. And if one of you has a lower credit score than the other, it's a good idea to create a plan to raise the credit score. How? First, stop using your credit cards! Second, double your monthly payments, if you can. It's important that you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to finances.

2. Create a monthly budget, and stick to it.

Creating a budget is super easy. You can either grab a pen and paper or use a software program. After you've created your budget, review it together and make necessary adjustments. See where you can cut back. If you can't adjust the figures, make sure you stick to your monthly budget, no matter what.

3. Review investment portfolios monthly.

If you have investment portfolios, sit down with your financial advisor/manager and discuss how you can make changes to increase your investments and/or diversify. For example, if you've been playing it safe, you may want to look into more aggressive stocks. On the flip side, if you've been too aggressive, you may want to rethink your strategy and be more conservative. Your financial manager will help you choose the best investment options.

4. Compare salaries and know when to ask for a raise.

How much do you make? If you've been working your way up the company ladder and earn a healthy salary, congratulations! But if you've been working and haven't received a raise or don't think you've received a raise that is worthy of you and your work, you may want to approach your boss and ask for a raise.

5. Choose a monthly amount to deposit into a separate savings account.

Now, more than ever, it is important to have an emergency fund. Because you don't know what could happen now or in the future. You or your partner could get laid off from work, permanently lose your job, need to take care of an aging parent or sick child, or experience another life-altering event. Establishing a monthly amount to be deposited into a savings account that is not to be touched is a must. You may not want to do it, but you need to do this, now.

6. Live within your means.

Your mom and dad may have told you to live within your means. Whenever you're about to purchase something, ask, "Do I need or want this?" If you don't need (fill in the blank), don't buy it, because you may have buyer's remorse or you could find a better deal at another store or online; keep your options open.

7. Start investing.

If you don't have an investment portfolio, you and your partner may want to hire a financial advisor. It's never too late or too early to invest.

8. Get a side job or start a business.

Okay, so you and your partner work 40 or more hours per week and may not have time for a side job. However, you can earn extra money doing what you love. You may find that both you and your partner have a knack for running your own business. You could eventually quit your day jobs.

9. Sell your stuff.

Now that you're married, go through all of your stuff and get rid of what you haven't used in a year or more. Toss out anything that is worn out, but sell everything that is gently used..

10. Keep the lines of communication open.

Most important is to keep communicating with one another. Do not shut down if your partner makes a mistake. Sure, you may not be happy about it, but it's not the end of the world. Calmly speak about the importance of creating a solid financial future together. If you need help, seek counseling from a marriage or financial counselor or both. Whatever you do, do not throw your marriage away at the first bump you have. It won't be 100 percent perfect all of the time.

To secure a solid financial future, you and your partner need to be willing to be honest about finances and hopefully were on the same page before you got married.

Having a solid financial future together is closer to possible than you think.

Excerpts from Amandah Blackwell

Should You Buy a House Before You're Married?

by Brooks & Davis Real Estate Firm, LLC

Should You Buy a House Before You're Married?

 

1. What factors should you consider before buying a home together before marriage?

While you’re building a home together, you’re not technically bound together legally until you’re married. Protect yourself against any losses or discomfort in the future by making sure that both of your names are on the housing deed. In the event that the unthinkable happens (i.e., you break up) you will both have an equal stake in the sale of the house and its contents.

2. Should you and your significant other combine finances, or keep them separate until marriage?
This is a personal choice, but we recommend keeping one spending line and one savings line just for you. Again, you’re in love and we hope you stay that way, but in lieu of a formal divorce should you break up you want to have assets in your name, at your disposal. And you don’t want your credit score—aka your financial report card—tied to someone else’s finances, just in case. Tackle housing costs, groceries, auto maintenance, etc. together, but your personal savings as well as the “fun stuff”—clothes, salon visits, travel—is on you.

3. What should you know (financially) about each other, and how do you start that conversation?
When to bring it up: Early on! Better to get any uncomfortable or even embarrassing news out on the table before things get serious enough for it to become a deal breaker. This is where you could make known any unusual health conditions, family irregularities, or even past relationships that may come up in the future. And, of course, any pesky credit card debt, student loans, or financial goals that are important to you.

How to bring it up: This is a delicate topic for men and women. So set yourselves up in a mutually comfortable, non-chaotic and un-rushed environment. The important thing to convey and establish here is sincerity. Men: give your girlfriend a realistic idea of your financial status so that it is never assumed you are in a position which you are not. You don’t want to start the relationship by setting unreal expectations from her — and hey, if she doesn’t love you for you no matter how heavy your wallet is, it may not work out anyway. Women: It is more appropriate for you to reveal your financial status by showing him than telling him. This way, you can make your situation obvious without bruising his ego or threatening any dynamic perceptions he might have.

4. How might the decision to buy a house change our relationship, and how can we work through it?
It sounds cliché, but communication is key, especially when it comes to money. Don’t ever assume that your significant other understands your financial picture and mores simply by osmosis. Set goals—together. Discuss what your goals and purposes are for the relationship. Whether it’s just for fun or for life, being on the same page with your goals and purposes aligned is key to the success and longevity of the relationship.

—Nicole Lapin The Bridal Guide

Just Engaged?

by Brooks & Davis Real Estate Firm, LLC


Once the initial shock of being engaged wears off (and you take a second to peel your eyes away from that sparkly ring on your finger!), you'll need to make a lot of decisions. Here are the some of the most important things you need to do to really kick off your wedding planning.

  1. Set a Timetable

The minute you get engaged, everyone will be asking for your wedding date . But in reality, you won't be able to set an exact date until other major decisions -- like choosing (and booking) your venue -- are made. So first, focus on determining a range of dates that will work for you. A typical engagement lasts anywhere from six months to a year and a half or more, but also think about what season you'd prefer, any major holidays or family events you'd like to avoid conflicting with, and how long you predict you'll need to plan.

  1. Dream Up Your Style and Pick a Location

Before you try on a single gown, book a band or sample a bite of cake, look at the big picture and imagine what kind of style and vibe you want to set for your wedding -- and where you want to hold it. Close your eyes and picture your fantasy wedding. What do you see? Is it a candlelit ceremony in a mansion? Are you walking barefoot on a beach in the tropics? Or maybe it's in your hometown's botanical garden. While you're picturing your perfect wedding, here are some key questions to consider: Big (everyone you know) or small (just close friends and family)? Outdoors or in? Home (one of your hometowns or your current city) or away (a destination wedding)? Modern, classic, romantic, vintage, rustic or all-out glam? Fancy, casual or somewhere in between? To help you get a better idea of what you want (and what you don't want), spend some time gathering inspiration. Check out magazines, books and real wedding photos online, but don't limit yourself to the obvious sources. Something as unlikely as a wallpaper pattern, a scene from a favorite movie, or a family heirloom can spark your creativity. Bottom line: Always keep your eyes open for inspiration.

  1. Set Your Budget

Sit down with your families and figure out how much everyone is contributing . This number will affect every decision and purchase you make, so be sure to work out your budget before you start planning. It can be an uncomfortable conversation , but it's better to get it out of the way now.

Those are just a few important things that you will need to do to begin the planning process for your wedding. However, some engaged couples can buy a house before getting married.

 

Getting engaged to be married typically involves some significant life changes. It's common for engaged couples to begin looking for a house to buy to start their new life together. Two unmarried people can buy a house together as co-borrowers or co-owners, or only one of them can purchase the property. The route you choose to take depends on your financial situation and future plans,


1

Decide if both or only one of you will be taking out the mortgage loan. Factors to consider are credit scores, yearly income, total debt and your total budget. If one of you has a high credit score and the other has a low score, it might make sense to put the mortgage in the name of the one with the high score to get a better interest rate and lower your payments.

2

Shop around for the best loan offer to fit your needs. For example, you will need to decide if you want a variable rate mortgage or a fixed rate as well as how many years you want the mortgage to be.

3

Apply for a pre-approval from the lender of your choice. Getting pre-approved lets you see how much you're likely to be approved for on the official loan application so you know what price range to stay in during your search. Also, having the pre-approval from your lender makes your offer stronger to the seller. Just keep in mind that if only one of you will have your name on the loan, the approval amount will likely be less than if you both had your name on it. That's because only one income will be attached to the loan instead of two.

4

Hire a real estate broker to help in your search and help negotiate the price, if you don't mind paying the commission. This is something you will want to discuss as a couple.

5

Choose the house you want to buy. Arrange to make an offer to the seller or his real estate broker.

6

Complete the official loan application provided by the lender. If both of you are putting your names on the loan, you both will need to fill in certain parts. Fill it out completely. The lender will request income verification such as a recent pay stub or tax return, as well as financial documents such as bank statements.

7

Meet with the closing agent on the scheduled closing date to sign the loan documents. If only one person is on the loan, only he needs to sign. Since you are not legally married yet, common law state rules won't apply for the non-borrowing spouse.

This article has been updated from an earlier version by Vi-An Nguyen and Mallory Malesky

Now that You Have said Yes, What’s Next?

by Brooks & Davis Real Estate Firm, LLC

One of the most magical memories you recall in your lifetime is your wedding proposal. At the moment you say yes, you are filled with excitement and joy at the thought of spending your life together. Then, you begin to dream of your future. You see yourself walking down the aisle, buying a house, and having kids. Suddenly, your happy thoughts turn to sheer terror as you start to panic! Where do I start? Will I have enough time and money? Can I get the location and dress I want? Should we buy our house first? These are all the questions that begin to flood your mind.

 

Don’t worry below will be some things that you should consider in planning the next chapter in your life.

If you decide to get married first you have to plan a wedding. Create a checklist to make sure you have covered everything.

  1. Set a Date!
  2. Pick a Location!
  3. Set a Budget!
  4. Hire an Expert!
  5. Purchase Your Wedding Gown.
  6. Decide the Style and Theme.
  7. Book Your Officiant.
  8. Book Your Vendors.
  9. Select and Order Your Invitations.
  10. Select Your Tuxedos.

 

Now of course in this new millennium, some couples have decided to plan to purchase a home before planning the wedding. We call these type of couples the millennials. Millennials are much more pragmatic. They want to deal with the problems of purchasing a home before the wedding, so in their eyes they are making “smart decisions.”

All lovebirds need a nest, and nowadays you and your significant other don’t need to wait to tie the knot before you purchase a place to live together. About one in every four married couples between the ages of 18 and 34 purchase their first home together before their wedding date. That compares to just 14 percent of married couples ages 45 and older.


Yet, not all couples are suited to joining the pre-wedding, home-purchasing flock. View the tips below to help you and your partner decide whether signing on the dotted line before or after you sign your marriage certificate is in your best interest. Regardless if you decide to purchase a home before the wedding or after, as a couple these tips are definitely something to consider.

 

  1. Consider Credit Scores

If you are committed to purchasing a home with your partner, the decision to do it before or after you are married could hinge on finances. Banks generally view married couples as one unit. Unmarried couples are assessed as individual applicants even if they are applying for a loan together.

 

  1. Add Up Savings

In addition to securing a mortgage, a home purchase will require a down payment and payment of closing costs.  Combining income and savings may help you qualify for a bigger loan and allow you to put down a larger down payment to reduce the amount of your monthly loan payments.

 

  1. Title Matters

Whether you are married when you purchase a home affects how you take title of the property, because it determines legal ownership and how courts will transfer property ownership in the event of death.

 

If you intend to buy a house with your partner before marriage, experts advise that you both sign a legal agreement to avoid altercations down the road. Should any snags occur in your relationship when you are not married, you and your partner do not have the same legal protections as married couples, and breaking up co-ownership of a house can be a messy ordeal. A legal contract between an unmarried couple should fill in the blanks as to who is responsible for expenses, the mortgage, taxes, capital gains, property title and more.

 

  1. Prepare for Commitment

Eighty percent of all married couples who bought a home together said the purchase strengthened their bond more than any other purchase they made. That makes sense, according to Robi Ludwig, a psychotherapist and Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC lifestyle correspondent, because couples who purchase a home together must be frank about their finances, career aspirations and future family plans as they affect the location, size and price of the home they buy.

 

This article has been updated from an earlier version by Patricia-Anne Tom

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Brooks & Davis Real Estate Firm, LLC
2600 S Loop W, Ste 310
Houston TX 77054
713.665.8329

 

Michael G. Davis (Designated Agent) - info@brooksanddavis.com
Brooks & Davis Real Estate Firm, LLC - (OSP)
2600 S Loop W, Ste 310
Houston, TX 77054
713.665.8329