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What newlyweds need to know about buying their first home

The excitement of married life doesn’t end with your honeymoon – many newlyweds also dream of buying a home together.

This is one of the biggest purchases you will make and most likely a first experience for both of you, so it’s very important to make sure it will suit both your needs as well as your budget.

And you should decide on your priorities before you begin looking at houses, as the wrong home or neighbourhood could have an impact on your lifestyle and your finances for many years to come, says Shaun Rademeyer, chief executive of mortgage originator BetterLife Home Loans.

“The first step is to decide on what the size and design of house you would like to buy and how long you plan on living there. Those expecting to raise a large family may want to consider a family home, for example, while others may want a smaller home at first or even an apartment.

“Then the location of your home is just as vital as the type of house you buy. The distance from work or good schools should be considered, distance from friends or family as well as the presence of amenities such as shops, hospitals, parks or other recreational spots. Some may want to look at areas with lower property rates as their first priority while others might be seeking more security.

“Many newlyweds are now also on the lookout for newer, eco-friendly homes with solar panels and space for a kitchen garden and it’s important to make sure you agree on the criteria before you start house hunting.”

The next step is to start looking for a home which closely matches all your criteria, he says, and these days that has been made much easier through online property portals.

“These enable you to filter your results according to area, price, number of bedrooms and bathrooms and type of property, for example, and also to set up sms alerts for new listings that match your specifications.

“However, although online searches can save you many weeks of house-hunting the traditional way, it is vital that you do actually view any home you are interested in buying before you sign an offer to purchase – and check out the neighbourhood at the same time.”

Third, says Rademeyer, you need to work out how you intend to finance your purchase.

“For most buyers this means getting a home loan, so you will most likely require a cash deposit equivalent to 10 or 20 percent of the home’s purchase price.

“This can be difficult to save, but in addition to helping you qualify for a loan, it will lower your monthly loan repayments and help to protect you against future interest rate increases. A reputable mortgage originator will be able to explain how this works and to help you get loan pre-qualification so that you have a better idea of how much you can afford to pay for your first home as a married couple.

“Your friends may also be able to help you finance your dream home by starting a crowdfunding campaign as a wedding present, or giving you cash instead of another toaster. And speaking of weddings, even a relatively modest reception costs many thousands of rands these days, and you might want to consider skipping some of the more expensive trimmings and putting the savings towards your deposit.

“Buying a home is after all the best way for most people to build a financially secure future, and the sooner you can start doing that, the better it will be – for both of you.”


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