Buying your first home is exciting, but there’s also some stress that comes with it. A house is a big purchase, and it brings a host of new hurdles beyond the initial price tag. If you’ll be purchasing your first house with your significant other, one way to avoid some of that stress is to have a few important conversations before you even start your house search. Here, Trulia.com suggests a few questions to ask your partner before you set out to find your perfect pad.
1. How long do we plan to live there?
You don’t have to set an exact time frame on your house purchase, but it’s a good idea to see if you’re both on the same page before you find a place to live. You should try to stay in the home at least until you hit your break-even year to recoup the purchasing costs. And, depending on where the house is located, that could be several years down the road. To determine whether you’ll be able to make that much of a commitment, have a frank conversation with your partner about your plans in the coming years. Do you see yourself building a family in this house? Are you both happy in your current jobs, or do you foresee a job search in the future that could make for a long commute? Talking about these things ahead of time will help you narrow down the type of house you both want based on your future goals.
2. How much house can we afford?
This is one of the most important questions you should discuss with your significant other before buying a house. It’s not uncommon for people to get approved for mortgages with monthly payments that actually would be very hard for them to afford. Only you and your partner know how your finances work out on a monthly basis. So, sit down and have a solid look at everything to fully understand how much money you can put toward a mortgage each month and still feel comfortable. You also might want to consult with a financial adviser together. Keep in mind that putting down less than 20 percent of your overall home cost at closing likely means that you’ll have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) on top of your monthly mortgage fee.
3. Are we looking for a fixer-upper?
Some people prefer a house they can add their own touches to, while others would rather walk into a house that’s perfect for them without having to change a thing. Talk about this before your house hunt so you’ll know whether or not you’re both willing to put in the effort (and money) for any necessary updates if that’s the route you decide to go.
4. How will we save for miscellaneous house expenses?
When you own your own home, there is no end to the list of things on which you’ll spend money. From leaks and cracks to peeling paint and clogged gutters, it seems like there’s always something that needs fixing. Of course, some of those things can usually wait, but to fix larger issues—especially those that require urgent attention, such as plumbing issues—you’ll need an immediate flow of cash. Chat about how you plan to pay for surprises that crop up, and if you don’t already have an emergency savings account, start one today.