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Consider First Home Choices With Care
By Amy Woolfolk
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- One of the biggest and most immediate challenges facing newly-married couples is choosing and paying for their first home.
Couples have several housing options from which to choose. They may choose to rent an apartment or a house, or they can buy or build a house.
Dr. Frances Graham, extension housing specialist at Mississippi State University, said most young couples choose to rent at first. They need time to decide and agree on their preferences and tastes for a more permanent home.
They also need to save money to cover the down payment and closing costs of buying. Because building or renovating can be time consuming and expensive, Graham encouraged couples to think hard before deciding to undertake such a project.
"Unless you love repair and can do much of the work yourself, stay away from a fixer-upper house," Graham said. "Renovating can take up a huge amount of time. This time might be better spent adjusting to the changes brought on by marriage."
Graham said couples who rent should start thinking about permanent housing as soon as they can. Permanent housing tends to have more stable costs, while rental costs can fluctuate.
Graham noted several factors couples should consider when looking for a home.
"Location and affordablility are very important factors that anyone looking for a home needs to consider," Graham said.
The specialist said to look for a home in a safe area and to choose a location that has desirable access to work, school, shopping and other services.
Survey the dwelling for possible fire hazards and be sure operable smoke detectors are in place. Also check the home's security measures such as dead bolt locks on doors and adequate locks on windows.
Graham said housing costs consume about 25 percent or more of a family's income.
"Couples should be careful not to rush into any decisions because housing is such a major investment," Graham said. "Take time to be sure you know what you want and are ready to handle the investment you are considering."