Getting married is a fun and exciting adventure. From taking the decision to spend the rest of your lives together, to planning the big day, it comes with a wealth of new experiences, decisions and adventures. One of the biggest decisions a couple can make is to purchase their first home together. But, for first time home buyers, the process can often seem rather complicated. Fear not – armed with the right knowledge, it can be a simple process resulting in your first property acquisition.

From searching for property for sale, to applying for a bond, we, together with Pam Golding Properties, will guide you through the basics of buying your first home as a married couple.

Decide what you want

Before you start, create a list of what you as a couple would like in a home. Here is a checklist for the basics:

  • How many bedrooms do you require?
  • How many bathrooms would you like?
  • Do you want a garden for children and pets?
  • Do you want a garage or carport as a personal parking space, or is off-street parking sufficient?
  • Do you need to be close to work and/or schools, or does distance not matter if you find the home of your dreams?
  • Would you like to be in a secure, gated development?
  • Do you want a brand new or newly renovated home, or a fixer-upper where you can make your mark?
  • What type of property would you prefer – a house, townhouse or apartment?

Get bond pre-approval

After figuring out what you want in your dream home, it’s important to secure pre-approval for a bond. A pre-approval essentially proves to the potential home loan provider that you can in fact afford the bond repayments on the selected property, and shows the provider that you are serious about buying. Pre-approval also saves time when applying for a bond.

In South Africa various bond originators are available, who will request bank statements, payslips, monthly expenses and information about any current debts in order to determine whether or not you qualify to be pre-approved. A positive credit history, low debt and a sufficient income will count in your favour and will help you negotiate a good interest rate if pre-approved.

Once a credit check has been completed, the originator will issue a certificate that you can show to a home loan provider during the home loan application process. While pre-approval doesn’t guarantee approval of a home loan, it is seen as a positive vote for one.

Apply for a home loan

Once you’ve found the home you want to buy and put in your offer, the next step is to apply for the official home loan. A joint bond where the property is registered in both names is certainly easier to afford as a couple, as the repayments are divided by two – but it is not required.

The institution you apply to will require certain information in order to process your application. Similar to the pre-approval process, each person will be required to submit bank statements, payslips, declarations of all assets and liabilities, monthly expenses and a credit history. If you apply through an originator, they will ensure all this information is gathered before the application is submitted.

While a joint bond is certainly helpful financially, couples must consider what they would do with the property in the event of divorce, and this very much depends on the type of marriage contract they entered into. If a couple is married in community of property, both parties are responsible for any debts or financial gains related to the property. If they are married out of community of property, they will have to decide how to divide the debt or gains from the property if the time comes. While not many couples want to think about this type of situation when getting married, sorting out these legalities in writing before marriage will avoid difficulties later on.

Buying your first home as a newly married couple is a journey that need not be filled with stress or anxiety. With the right knowledge and advice you can get the home you want and start the new chapter of your lives together as a married couple.

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