Although, for many people, thinking about getting married is cause for celebration, for others it’s synonymous with stress. You’re busy planning a wedding, thinking about the honeymoon, and combining your two lives together. But, have you thought about getting married and buying a house? Wow. Stressful.
If you’re thinking of getting married and buying a house immediately after as a way to start your new life together, you might feel overwhelmed, intimidated, and exhausted. So, should you buy a house before or after marriage? The answer depends on a few factors, but mainly your financial situation.
Banks generally back every home loan applicant whether they are married or not. So, your marital status isn’t necessarily the most important factor to consider for this process. However, if you’ll be applying together then you should focus on each other’s financial and credit history, creating a realistic budget, and considering the possible inconveniences that may arise in the future.
Should a married couple buy a house together?
Let’s start with the big question. Just because you can buy a house together doesn’t mean you should. However, we’ll admit that there are quite a few benefits of applying for a mortgage loan together with your spouse. Here are just a few:
- You’ll have the possibility of combining finances and income to apply for a mortgage loan. This means that you can take out a larger loan.
- There are some tax benefits!
- Depending on your individual credit scores, there’s a good chance that you could get a joint mortgage loan with a lower rate than if you had applied alone.
- Sharing the responsibility of making loan payments just makes life a whole lot easier (as long as you both can pay your fair share!).
- You’ll both have the opportunity to improve your credit rating when you make on-time loan payments.
Buying a house with your spouse
A great way to start the home buying process with your partner is to make individual lists of everything your ideal home would have. Separate that list into needs and wants. Then, compare notes.
Your lists may overlap in many ways (hopefully in more ways than they’re different!), but there can also be substantial differences. That’s okay. In fact, it’s normal. It’s why it’s important to have these types of conversations now. This exercise will allow you to prioritize what is really important as a team.
If the plan is to buy a house in the future, it’s also best to start saving now. Review your budget together and figure out how to save a little more each month. Downloading a budgeting app can help with this, but overall it’s important to figure out how much you’d need for the down payment on the house of your dreams along with other fees such as closing costs.
Then, you’ll want to sit down and talk about your credit scores. Yikes, right? Not exactly. It doesn’t have to be that scary! A credit monitoring app like Float Credit is a great way for couples to check their scores and see where their partner is at. Namely, you’ll want to work on:
- Correcting any errors on the report
- Making on-time payments (set up auto-pay for bills and credit cards if it’s available)
- Think about shifting your debt repayment strategies
Why is this so important? Your credit rating is a key factor in accessing an affordable joint mortgage loan, so improving your individual credit scores before buying a home will pay off big.
House hunting with your spouse
Before house hunting, we suggest getting pre-approval for a mortgage loan from the bank. This will give you a clearer idea of what type of house that you and your partner can buy if you go in on it together. This makes house hunting much easier as it’ll help you avoid wasting time looking at houses that you won’t qualify for.
Aside from that, we mention taking the list you both compiled above and making sure that you’re still on the same page in terms of “must-haves” and “would likes.” Let your realtor know what the “must-haves” are first. It’s a good idea to start with five to ten things here, such as, “The house has to be one story” or “We need a fenced-in backyard for our dog.” The features that are non-negotiable are going to be the most important at the beginning of your search.
Ultimately, the most important thing is not to allow a stressful situation like buying a home to cause conflict with your spouse. And if that’s the case, it’s best to hand off most of the stressful matters to a real estate professional.
Credit issues on mortgage applications
When you and your spouse have found your dream home and start the application process for a joint mortgage loan, it’s now time to think about the actual application itself. Issues can arise, which include:
- Lack of information in the application
- Low credit score
- Lack of credit history
- Too much existing debt
- Insufficient down payment
- Recent job change
Want to avoid these issues? Before applying for a loan, get a free copy of your credit reports and scores to see if there are any issues that may prevent you from getting approved.
If you have errors on your credit report, have them corrected. If your credit score is too low, take steps to improve it before starting any paperwork. To receive helpful insight into what’s affecting your score and how you can improve it, download Float Credit. You’ll even access tips such as reducing your credit utilization rate.
All of the above can increase your chances of getting approved for a joint mortgage loan.
Having one spouse on the mortgage
Do both partners have to be on the mortgage loan? Nope! Actually, sometimes it’s better if they aren’t.
Married couples who buy a home or refinance their current home do not necessarily have to include both spouses on the mortgage. In fact, sometimes including your partner in a home loan application can hurt the application.
For example, if your husband’s low credit score makes it difficult to qualify or increases your interest rate, it’s better to leave him off.
It’s also important to note that you don’t have to be married to apply for a joint loan. Sometimes people apply as unmarried partners or with their friends and family. The only really important thing to understand here is that everyone who signs the loan is 100% responsible for paying it back, even if their spouse or one of the other people on the loan passes away or stops making their share of the payments.
Ready to get that joint mortgage loan?
If getting married and buying a house is in your future, it’s time to start thinking about your financial situation, budget, debt, and credit scores together. Start by talking about your general financial situation and what you both think you could afford in the next couple of years. Then, share your credit scores with each other.
Not sure how to access your credit score for free? Want tips on how to improve your scores? Think it’d be cool to track changes in your partner’s score and celebrate wins together?
Float Credit allows you to do all that and more. Go ahead and try it out. It’s free and fun.
About the Author – ELIZABETH THORN
After receiving a degree in film from UCLA, Elizabeth left Los Angeles to travel the world and focus on storytelling and content creation. She has since worked as a freelancer and staff writer for publications in Europe, Asia, and North America, namely in the areas of travel, tech, finance, and business.