Buying a house before marriage is becoming more common for engaged individuals. And why not? After joining the ranks of 38 million people in the United States who purchase jewelry annually, plenty of engaged couples start shopping for a new house. The process can take a long time, so it only makes sense to begin as early as possible.
What happens if you find a dream house in your price range before you actually say “I do?” You can always consider buying a house before marriage and renovating it so it’s move-in ready by the big day. Of course, if you’re buying a house before marriage with plans of sprucing it up, you’ll need to take a few aspects of the property into consideration. Below are some things to think about.
Consider the HVAC
If you’re not familiar with the term “HVAC”, it relates to the heating and cooling units in a residence or commercial building. Unless your home is a little cabin in the woods heated only by the fireplace or a wood stove, you probably will snag a place that has some type of furnace and maybe central air.
Although it would be great if your new home’s HVAC were only a few years old, that isn’t always the case. Furnaces only last around 10-15 years, and air conditioning units have about the same lifespan. Therefore, when buying a house before marriage, you’ll need to ask about the home’s HVAC status. It’s better to know upfront if you will need to make furnace or AC repairs, rather than finding out after you settle in.
What happens if the HVAC in the home is completely out of date or falling apart? Contact a local HVAC installation service provider to talk about your options. You may be able to get low-interest financing if the provider is running a special. Definitely ask for bids from several companies before you make your final decision.
Check out the Roof
You’d be surprised how easy it can be to see if a roof looks solid before buying a house before marriage. Even without getting on the roof or hiring someone to examine it on your behalf, you can use your eyes. Look for missing shingles, sagging roof areas, and roof shingle discolorations, as they may be signs that you’ll need to invest in some roof repair or replacement before too long.
Don’t assume that you can wait on upgrading your roof, either. A leaky roof can lead to all sorts of property damage that will take a huge chunk out of any savings you have. It’s better to pay for a replacement roof upfront if feasible than incur other damage later. Oh, and if you’re not sure you can afford to remove and replace the roof on a house, you might want to look for a different place instead. Even if you’ve fallen in love with it, buying a house before marriage shouldn’t bankrupt you. Therefore, be cautious about signing any contracts on a house that’s going to require too much TLC.
Talk about Pets and Pests
So you’re not just buying a house before marriage, but you’re thinking about becoming pet parents, too? Whether you already have a dog or cat, or you’re planning to adopt some furry friends after your nuptials, you’ll want to think about their safety and lifestyle in your new property.
For instance, if you have a dog, the dog will probably love a place to hang out outside. This could be your front or back lawn. Ideally, when you’re buying a house before marriage, you might ask your realtor to find possibilities with fenced-in yards. That way, you wouldn’t have to worry about spending money on invisible fences to keep your pooch within a geo-targeted location.
Similarly, if you have a lot of fish and fish tanks, you’ll need to make sure the flooring can handle the weight of the tanks. You’d be surprised at how much even a modestly sized fish tank can weigh when it’s filled up!
In addition to pets, you’ll also want to think about pests when you’re buying a house before marriage. As you tour properties, keep an eye out for signs of critters like rodents or insects. It’s best to know if you’ll need the services of an exterminator year-round to deal with seasonal infestations of yellow jackets, wasps, ants, spiders, or other bugs.
Remember: the closer your home is to the woods or water, the more likely you’ll get some unwanted “visitors” during the year. A mouse can squeeze into an amazingly small hole and make your life crazy! (Perhaps that’s where bringing a cat into the home could be a huge advantage.)
Explore the Plumbing
Most of the time, plumbing is hidden behind the walls, with the exception of some exposed pipes in crawl spaces or basements. However, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that plumbing is “out of sight, out of mind.”
Poor plumbing can turn a fantastic home into a nightmare very quickly. One dripping faucet can slowly eat away at not just the sink material but also your wallet. And if you have leaks in the walls, you’ll eventually find yourself with major moisture and possibly mold problems. Mold is particularly difficult to deal with because it requires pricey mold remediation to completely get rid of it.
How can you give yourself peace of mind about the plumbing of a property when you’re buying a house before marriage? Honestly, the best way to feel good about any piece of real estate is to pay a plumber to conduct a walk-through and examination. Yes, you’ll spend a little money. Nevertheless, your pragmatism will help ward off future headaches.
Make Note of Appliances
When you start to look at the listings while buying a house before marriage, you might not see appliances noted. Definitely ask about which appliances will convey if you purchase the property. For example, are the sellers planning to just leave the washer and dryer in the basement? And if so, do you even want the appliances?
Never assume that any appliance will stay with the house. Home sellers might want to take refrigerators or even ovens with them. Get in writing which appliances you’ll have, and find out if they’re in good working order. If they’re not, but you intend to fix them, you’ll need to find a local home appliance repair service that has a great reputation.
As a side note related to appliances, some sellers will offer buyers a year-long home warranty that covers the appliances purchased with the residence. Read the warranty so you know what’s covered and what’s not. Home warranties can help you pay much less for the upkeep of your house, particularly during the first year that you live there after buying a house before marriage.
Get Real About Landscaping
Unless you’re buying a house before marriage that doesn’t have any kind of lawn or green area, you’ll need to envision your perfect landscaping. You may want to add a different driveway or create a robust garden area. Additionally, you might feel that a fence is a must-have to keep your property more secluded or improve privacy between you and neighboring homes.
As part of your discussion about landscaping, take note of all the trees on the property. Snap pictures of them so you can see what types they are. Doing so will allow you to find out how best to take care of the trees, as well as what you can expect as they mature. Lots of new homebuyers are shocked when they discover that they need to call tree pruning experts annually.
What if you don’t like the trees and want to get rid of them or replace them with different varieties? Cutting down a tree and removing the stump yourself is a tough project. Rather than putting yourself through that kind of arduous experience, contact a tree removal specialist. The specialist will be able to not just remove the tree, but give you hints on how to tend to the rest of the trees in your yard.
No matter what you do, take a moment to consider how you’ll create a curb appeal ambiance that’s all your own. Buying a house before marriage involves compromise, so have a detailed conversation to see what each of you wants to bring to the landscaping. Perhaps someone wants a koi pond and another person wants tons of bird feeders. Having a dialogue before making any moves will ensure that you’re both on the same page.
Lay out Costs for Amenity Maintenance
You have a joint list of “must-have” and “nice to have” items. Lo and behold, a property comes up for sale that has countless “nice to have” amenities. Eagerly, you go on a tour. And you fall in love with everything from the inground swimming pool to the outdoor kitchen area. There’s only one problem: You’re going to have to spend money to make sure these amenities stay up to date for as long as you live in the residence.
Rather than experiencing sudden sticker shock when you find out how much it takes to maintain a pool or keep up with extensive landscaping, do your research ahead of time. First, see if the current homeowners can tell you how much they spend to keep amenities functioning. Next, hunt around on Google to find out what homeowners in your area can expect to spend each year on specific amenities. Conducting this type of investigation will give you a figure to work with.
This isn’t to say that you can’t look for bells and whistles when buying a house before marriage. You can. You just have to be practical about what you can and can’t afford. Buying a house before marriage with a tennis court may seem like a fantastic indulgence, but tennis courts don’t last forever. Are you prepared to resurface the court and stick to a regimented maintenance schedule so it doesn’t become an eyesore down the road?
These are tough questions, of course, especially if you really love a home. Yet owning and visiting a house are two very separate things. If you’re not 100% sure that you’re going to be able to afford amenities, you might want to pick a residence that is just as nice but has fewer special touches.
Explore the Doors and Windows
When buying a house before marriage, go on a walkthrough that includes an inspection of all the doors and windows. It’s simple to overlook a cracked window or ill-fitting door the first or second time that you tour a property. However, if you’re serious about putting a bid on a house, you’ll want to know exactly what you’re considering buying.
What should you look for in your doors? They should latch consistently and not be hard to open or close. Additionally, the weatherproofing strip at the base should work to keep cold air from getting into the home during cooler months. Finally, doors to the outside, often called entry doors, should have locks so you can feel safe and secure.
Windows should also fit nicely and not be too outdated. Of course, you could find a diamond-in-the-rough house with older windows and get it for a song. You’ll have to buy replacement windows eventually, though. Luckily, many replacement window companies offer deep, attractive discounts and financing.
Always Insist on Electrical Safety
At this point in the process of buying a house before marriage, you probably feel great about one or two potential homes. To help you make your choice, hire an electrician to give the residence a once-over. Electrical failures are fire hazards, and you don’t want to worry about something like. If your electrician comes back with problems, find out if they can be fixed for a reasonable cost. They might not be a deal-breaker.
It’s exciting when you’re buying a house before marriage. With a bit of due diligence and planning, you can make sure that the property you pick becomes a true home-sweet-home for at least the early years of your life as a wedded couple.