First love, first home

Most of us dream of owning property, but for newly-weds there is extra significance starting out a new life in a new place with their life-partner. However, today’s property market is a tricky one to get into, with most first time buyers needing a salary of around R30,000.00 a month to get a bond close to R1 million.

Acquiring a bond as a married couple, or even as a partnership with a friend or family member, can be the perfect way into the property market. Here are a few things to keep in mind when buying a property with someone else.

Budget first

Just like any wedding planner knows, the budget always wins out. There will always be compromises along the way, but knowing “your number” is fundamental in planning any big event. This holds true for house hunting as well.

Your first stop to buying your dream home is understanding your finances. Boring as it sounds, this step will help reduce stress, both now and later in life, and also ensure your house hunting is kept to places you can afford.

Once you have an understanding of your finances, you will need to know how much you have to spend. Go online and use the HelloHouse bond calculator. While these are purely an indication of what a bank or lending institution might give you, it will allow you to get a good idea of what you can spend.

If you want to skip the online process, head straight to the banks. Get them to run a thorough credit check on you and your partner, and give you an indication of the amount they would be willing to lend you and at what interest rate.

Remember, even if you’re married to someone with an amazing credit score yours will still apply. Being married does not “delete” anyone’s history.

Research wins

Once you know your budget, it’s time to start looking. Most recently-wed couples will understand the need for great research – how many wedding venues get scoped out before “the one” is chosen after all?

Research starts with knowing your priorities. Each person will have their own set of criteria, while, as a couple, there will be other points to consider. Start out by figuring out your priorities: areas you would both be happy to live, proximity to work or public transport, what type of property - to mention a few.

While this might be your first home, thinking ahead never hurt. Starting a family might be a distant thought, but buying a home in a good school catchment zone not only covers your future growth, but is also a massive bonus if you choose to sell the property further down the line.

Once you’re both on board with what you’re looking for, you can start house hunting.

Keep in mind, buying off plan in new developments can save you a lot of money by cutting out costs like registration and lawyer fees. Not only are these properties more affordable, but they usually come with a building warranty of some sort, keeping maintenance costs down on specified items.

The legal details

Getting married is a huge commitment, but so is buying a property. The financial outlay is probably the biggest amount you will ever commit during your lifetime, so understanding the legal intricacies is vital.

If you have been married “in community of property”, the property will be registered in one person’s name, but consent must be given by the spouse for the agreement to be valid. If you want to sell a property, both parties’ consent must be acquired as well. If you choose to be married “out of community of property”, no consent is required to buy or sell a home. This means whoever’s name is on the title deed is the legal owner.

“Common law” marriages, or couples who have lived together but not been married, need to ensure that the deed of sale stipulates that both parties are joint owners. If not, the law will stand on the side of the person whose name appears on the title.

In order to avoid any unwanted surprises down the line, consult an attorney before purchasing a home and ensure there is a formal agreement in place.

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