More than likely, a house is the largest financial investment a couple will ever make, so it’s natural for first-time homebuyers to feel a little stress. But this monumental purchase doesn’t have to be hard on your marriage.

Go prepared

The following tips will help make the journey successful and (mostly) trouble-free. My husband and I learned these lessons the hard way as we experienced both the thrill and frustrations of buying our first home.

  1. Figure your budget. Though my husband and I agreed on the style of house (older, two-story cottage), we did not see eye to eye on what we should spend. I wanted our first house to be a dream house; he was a little more realistic. To come to an agreement, we worked through our finances in detail and had a few pragmatic conversations. In the end, a simple look at our budget made it clear that we should look for a "starter house."
  2. Specify your criteria. My husband and I spent hours discussing things such as whether we wanted wood floors or carpet, how many bedrooms and bathrooms we needed, whether it was important to have stainless steel appliances, a large backyard and so on. As we began looking at houses, we found it helpful to have a clear idea what we could – and could not – live without.
  3. Find a real estate agent. While we’d done quite a bit of house hunting online, we soon realized we needed help to find the right house for us. We asked friends and family to recommend a qualified real estate agent. This person was vital to our search because he provided us important details we would not otherwise have known.

    But our time with our agent was not without some angst. At the beginning, we looked at many homes that did not fit our needs because we failed to communicate clearly what we were looking for. In hindsight, a few frank discussions with him would have saved valuable time and energy.
  4. Identify a mortgage. In preparing to purchase our first house, we discovered that the most complicated and confusing aspect was trying to understand our financing options. For guidance, we sought the advice of a relative in the real estate business who recommended a loan that best fit our financial situation. We found that seeking direction from a professional not only helped us feel more confident, but also saved us money in the long-run.
  5. Troubleshoot in advance. For all of our planning, we still ran into a few bumps along the way. But we also discovered a few things we could do next time to avoid them.

    First, take your time. Don’t rush into putting an offer on the first house you see. Second, take people with you to see the house you want; a trusted friend or family member can identify problems you may have missed. Third, hire an inspector to do the same in a more thorough manner; his findings can help you avoid future problems or be used as a bargaining chip. Last, but most important, seek guidance from the Lord about which house you should purchase.

House hunting headaches can be avoided

After several months of scouring dozens of neighbourhoods and walking through too many homes that needed "just a little TLC," we found a house we liked and could afford. While buying our first house was an adventure, it was not as difficult as we’d initially thought. It turned out to be a wise investment – both financially and for our marriage.

Nicole was enjoying her third year of marriage to Scott at the time of publication.

© 2007 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

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