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By Shadé Mason
OMG, newlyweds, is it finally time to start the process of buying a house? Do you feel nervous, excited, stressed, anxious, or perhaps intimidated by the overall process?
Well, let's first start by acknowledging that it's common to have some of these emotions. Actually, let's normalize the possibility that you may feel all these emotions simultaneously. We understand the importance of being financially, mentally, and emotionally prepared when purchasing a house. So, we decided to talk to a few real estate agents to help us give you some insight, tips, and advice. Let's get into it:
"It's A Vibe"
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We can't stress the importance of being selective when choosing a real estate agent. A dope vibe between you and the person guiding you with making one of the most critical decisions as a couple is a must. We asked Arial, Ashley, and Lonnie what qualities newlyweds should look for in a realtor:
Arial: "Choose the person, not the experience, and seek referrals from other homeowners. Find someone who has your best interest at heart and go with your gut feeling. Find an agent that is passionate, honest, and has integrity."
Ashley: Ask questions when deciding on an agent. You'll want to know if they are a single agent or if they have a team? How accessible are they? Interview a few people to ensure you and your spouse have a good connection with the realtor."
Lonnie: "Look for a realtor that you feel comfortable with. You can get a bunch of highly recommended realtors from friends and family, but if you don't feel at ease with them, it's not a good fit. Also, look for a professional realtor, has a proven record and specializes in your needs."
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We will keep it short and sweet; saving is essential to purchasing the home you want. The word "save" should be embedded throughout your daily routine. It is necessary to set a monthly savings goal that you can commit to. Go over your budget and reassess unnecessary spending. If buying a house is a top priority, it may be time to call your local Starbucks and tell them to ban you for a few months.
Ashley emphasizes, "No matter what your situation is, as soon as you know you want to buy a house, you should start saving. In addition to your down payment and closing cost, you'll want to save for additional expenses such as repairs, maintenance, unexpected expenses, etc."
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The home buying process can be complex, and mistakes can happen. Whether it's from lack of knowledge, bad advice, unpreparedness, or letting your emotions cloud your decision-making. However, here are a few common mistakes to avoid a sticky situation for you and your spouse:
Do not buy a house you cannot afford! Listen, we know you are all about "securing the bag," and we are here for it. However, if you haven't secured the kind of bag that will allow you to afford the house you want, don't do it. It is essential to purchasing a home that you can afford now. Do not let anticipated income and emotions cloud the reality of your current financial status. Real Estate Agent Lonnie Scales with The Real Estate Experts DMV recalls several couples who "purchase a townhome and within 2-3 years they have gained enough equity in the home, and they use that money towards their forever home." Atlanta's Real Estate Ashley Kimball of Compass Real Estate says it's important "to look for a home that fits your current needs or your 5-year plan. People grow, and people change, and most likely, your first home is not going to be the end all be all."
Poor planning can put you in a difficult situation. Arial recommends talking with an accountant or CPA (Certified Public Accountant) if you're unsure what you and your spouse can or cannot afford. In addition to being transparent about finances, make sure you and your spouse get the "tea" on your creditworthiness. Yes, now is the time to get all up in your credit's business before the lender does.
Do you know what your credit score is? Do you have any collections on your credit reports? Do you know your debt-to-income ratio? Is your credit card utilization under 30%? When applying for a loan, these are the questions lenders will want to know. Knowing the answers to these questions will help prepare you for when it's time to sit at the table to find out the amount you are pre-approved for. Arial also adds, "Now is not a good time to make sudden career changes or large purchases. You want to approach your property purchase from a position of financial stability."
For newlyweds who are waiting for the seller's market to turn into a buyer's market, Ashley says, "Don't do it. Get the right agent and start the process." Arial warns, "the longer you wait, the more money you are leaving on the table unless you are waiting to save for a down payment or need time to fix your credit. The market conditions will always play in your favor if you buy smart and think "investment" throughout the process. What's for you will be for you."
Whatever stage you find yourself in during the homebuying process, we hope you were able to grab a few takeaways to guide you as you embark on this journey as newlyweds. Good luck, and we are rooting for your win!
"Keep in mind any home; even new construction isn't going to be perfect. All homes are man-made. Focus on location, your budget, and keep in mind almost any aspect of a home can be changed because you own it." Ashley Kimball
"Do your research on neighborhoods, decide the best neighborhood for your lifestyle, family, and future." Arial Pegues
"Purchasing a home will be just as intense as planning a wedding. The plan can and will change, so be open to change and uncertainties." Lonnie Scales
"Don't buy anything you are uncomfortable with." Ashley Kimball
"Buy for Functionality (don't buy more house than you need). Consider long-term value. It's important to look past the initial value of a property and consider the potential upsides of the investment." Arial Pegues
"Allow yourself grace during the entire process." Lonnie Scales
"Take a deep breath; preparation is key! "If You Fail to Plan, You Are Planning to Fail," Stay patient." Arial Pegues
About the Contributors
Ashley Kimball has been in the real estate industry for over four years. She is an agent with Compass Real Estate and is currently licensed in Georgia and North Carolina. Ashley specializes in first-time home buyers and investors. Check out her Atlanta Living w/ Ashley Instagram page: @lovingatlantalife.
Lonnie Scales has been in the real estate industry for over five years. He is an agent with The Real Estate Experts DMV and is currently licensed in Washington, D.C, Maryland, and Virginia. Lonnie specializes in first-time home buyers, new construction, and VA buyers. Check out his Instagram page: @LonnieScales.
Arial Pegues has been in the real estate industry for over sixteen years. She has her real estate agency called "Arial Pegues Real Estate" and is currently licensed in Washington, D.C, Maryland, and Virginia. Arial specializes in first-time homebuyers, relocations, sellers, new construction, investors, luxury homes, short sales, and foreclosures. Check out her Instagram page: @mybrilliantagent.