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Buying a house is one of the biggest purchases you and your partner will make together. The more you talk about it before you begin your search, the more successful your search is likely to be, and the happier you’ll both be when you turn the key.

Agree on Needs and Wants

Before contacting a realtor, agree on what you need and want in a house, while understanding that these can be different. You may need a master bedroom and an office, and two bathrooms to get ready for work in the morning. Those are the minimums you’re willing to accept. You’d love to also have a game room for a pool table, and a mud room to bring the dog in and wipe his paws. These are extras you’ll look for in your house hunting, but their absence won’t necessarily be deal breakers. Agree, too, on whether the house itself or the neighborhood is more important, and how much work you’re willing to do in exchange for a good price.

Discuss Motives and Goals

Like most couples, you probably agree on many ideas but not all of them. So, it’s important to discuss why you want to buy a house and what you hope to gain in the purchase. One person wants a cozy living space reminiscent of the home he/she grew up in; the other wants an investment that will appreciate in value rapidly. Older newlyweds may be looking for a vacation home or a single spot to retire. Agreeing on your goals going in will make house-hunting easier. 

Determine Your Budget

It’s vital that you have a price range and a maximum price before you even step out your door, while understanding that you will pay more for a house that is in “move-in” condition and less for one that needs repairs. Every real estate agent (realtor) will ask what your budget is, because it’s pointless to look at houses beyond what you can afford and are comfortable paying. Unless you are paying cash for the house, you’ll also need to know how much you will offer as a down payment. The rest will need to be mortgaged.

Secure a Mortgage Pre-Approval

In years past, home buyers narrowed their search, submitted an offer on their chosen house and, if it was accepted, then went to the bank for financing. Today, sellers and their agents want to know up front that you will be approved for the loan. So, it’s important for you to understand the maximum mortgage amount a bank will finance for you. To determine this amount, lenders will check your credit history, verify your household income and ask you to explain any issues they find before they determine whether or not they will finance your loan and for what amount.

Choose a Realtor

Choose a realtor who is the best match for your situation. Ideally, he/she will have proven experience working with couples who are combining finances and living arrangements for the first time, is familiar with the neighborhoods that interest you, and typically works with clients in your price range. Choose the person you and your spouse feel will best represent your interests.

Buying a home as a newly married couple can be daunting, but it’s also one of the best things that you’ll get to do together. Learn as much as you can and don’t make hasty decisions. It may take some time before you land the perfect one, but it’ll be worth it once you find the one where you know you can happily spend the rest of your lives.