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Plan Carefully For First Dream Home
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Dreams of setting up housekeeping with a new spouse may turn into nightmares if a couple fails to carefully study all the details -- structural and financial -- before committing themselves to a housing agreement.
Careful study of all the details for purchasing or renting a home, including the physical layout of the building, and the legal and financial details, is essential for selecting a first home.
Frances Graham, housing specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said most young couples, either for financial reasons or for convenience, choose to rent housing during the early part of their marriage.
She said whether a couple chooses to rent an apartment, house or manufactured home, shopping around for the best lease will probably provide longer-term benefits.
"If the possibility of moving exists during the lease period, check to see if subleasing is allowed," Graham said. "If it is, they should make sure they will not be responsible for any damage to the property during the subleasing."
Graham said to make sure the rental fee cannot be increased during the leased term and know the procedure for termination or renewal. Leases may be either written or verbal contracts. She said that although verbal leases are binding, they are hard to enforce.
"Renting is especially good for young couples without the experience of budgeting," Graham said. "A lot of times, a couple can afford more housing by renting than if building or buying."
A couple must have an adequate down payment saved if they are considering the purchase of a home. Graham said normally a minimum 5 percent of the estimated cost of the house is necessary to secure a loan. She said for the best (lowest) interest rates, 20 percent of the total cost for a down payment is ideal.
Graham said the couple must not only consider the money needed for a down payment, but also costs involved in closing a home mortgage. These costs, often referred to as closing costs, are for expenses such as attorney fees, appraisal of the property, taxes and insurance, property survey and title search.
The housing specialist said that whether the couple intends to buy or rent, they should pay careful attention to the energy efficiency of the home. She said to check such areas as insulation in the attic and walls and caulking around windows. By considering energy details early, a couple can ensure financial savings over the duration of their stay in the house.