Christian Financial Planning, Budgeting & Investing

Mistakes Couples Make When Buying a House

  • Daniel Huerta Contributor, The First Five Years of Marriage
  • 2008 17 Mar
Mistakes Couples Make When Buying a House
Read Part I of this article: Should We Buy a House?

What if you decide that you should buy a home but really can’t afford it? Begin to develop a financial plan that lets you reduce or even eliminate fixed debt. Freeing up money for a down payment and then building equity in a small home usually is a good long-term plan. Dreams can come true, but they require patience, perseverance, and time.

They also require agreement between the two of you. If one spouse dreams and the other prefers only “reality,” resentment and division may enter the relationship. Try to look together toward a reality that’s based on a long-term perspective.

Unfortunately, some recently married couples make mistakes when they buy a home – mistakes that take several years to correct financially and emotionally.

Here are seven common home-buying mistakes couples make during the early years of marriage:

  1. Assuming property values will always go up. The housing market isn’t always favorable. Just as there are increases, there can be decreases in the worth of a home. There have been times when houses actually lost value and times when their value rose at a rate lower than inflation.
  2. Being blinded by emotion. Some couples rush into buying, driven by the need to be noticed and admired. They want to “show off” whether or not they can afford the house. Purchases driven by emotion tend not to be the wisest; those driven by careful thinking tend to have positive results.
  3. Too much window-shopping. “We’re just going to look and dream,” some spouses tell each other. But this can be dangerous, especially for those who make decisions impulsively. It’s also a way for hard feelings and disconnection to develop in a relationship when “browsing” leads nowhere – or to a decision to buy more than a couple can afford.
  4. Trying to “win.” Some couples turn the decision-making process into a battlefield. Each spouse becomes so focused on what he or she wants that hurtful statements or “silent treatments” result. Major resentments can begin to take root during the process of deciding whether or not to buy a house.
  5. Counting on raises. It’s easy to predict that you’ll be making more money in five years or to count on a career you don’t have yet. That happened to Luke and Brenda, who went house-hunting while Luke was still in graduate school. They were enticed by a house beyond the scope of their budget – thinking they’d be able to afford it when Luke got a better job. “Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched” may be an old saying but it still applies.
  6. Overspending. When many young couples begin earning “real paychecks,” they want to start buying things – even if they’ve committed themselves to a marriage. They see ads for big-screen TV’s that offer no-interest financing for a year and sign up – only to see car repairs and emergency doctor visits eat up the money they’d meant to put toward repaying the debt. They find themselves with fixed debt higher than the maximum 36 percent mentioned earlier – and a risk of losing their home to foreclosure. To exceed that percentage and maintain financial stability, a couple must be very disciplined in their spending. The answer to overspending: Stick with a budget.
  7. Getting the wrong loan. Too many couples consider only which loan would be most convenient – not which would be wisest. Some lenders, for example, offer a low interest rate for the first three or five years – but it soars after that. As a result, a couple might find itself refinancing, which could cost $2,500 to $5,000. There are many kinds of loans, which makes it important to consult a trusted mortgage lender and real estate agent.

With all these challenges, buying a house may appear to be a daunting task. But it can be a wonderful experience if the two of you seek wisdom, have patience, communicate, and plan ahead. And remember: Money will buy a house, but it’s up to you to establish what goes on inside.

Excerpted from The First Five Years of Marriage (Tyndale House Publishers.). Copyright (c) 2006 by Focus on the Family. General Editors: Phillip J. Swihart, Ph.D. and Wilford Wooten, L.M.F.T. All rights reserved. Used with permission.