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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,


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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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Contact Information

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


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