The playbook of life looks something like this: Go to school. Get a job. Get married. Buy a house. Have kids. How to do each one of these steps is sometimes left out of the playbook. While the time between the school, job and marriage parts might be long, the time between the marriage, house and kids never is. Once you get married, the pressure to buy a house and have kids is inevitable and you are bound to feel overwhelmed. I have provided a few very simple things to think about before buying your first home as a newlywed. Hopefully, these tips ease the fear you may have of this phase of your life.  When you are thinking about these, remember that you are now thinking in “we” terms, not “I” ones.  You both have to feel comfortable with your new home and the lifestyle changes that come with it.

  • Have a solid credit score; 750 or higher should get you the best mortgage rates.  Alternatively, have no credit score because you don’t borrow money and get a manually underwritten mortgage.
  • Have at least 5-10% of the purchase price to apply as a down payment (in addition to closing costs).
  • Ideally, become totally debt-free, but at a minimum you should pay off all unsecured consumer debt.
  • Have an emergency fund of 3-6 months of household expenses saved up.
  • Only take on a mortgage where your total payment (including taxes and insurance) will be no more than 25- 30% of your monthly take-home pay based on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage.
  • Will our careers keep us in this general area?
  • Are we each comfortable with the daily commute that will be required?
  • Is this neighborhood up-and-coming and do other young couples live here?
  • Given we’ll be here for a while (and maybe you have children already), is this the school district we want to send our children?
  • Are we an appropriate distance from our mothers-in-law!?!