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By Jeffrey Hammerberg
The desire to buy a home together comes with the natural progression of any committed relationship. It not only signifies a couple’s commitment, it also strengthens it. However, for gay and lesbian couples, a single most important question immediately presents itself.
Can my partner and I buy a home together?
The answer is yes. Same-sex couples can indeed purchase a home together and there is absolutely no reason why gay couples should not opt for joint home ownership.
While the rights of home ownership are not exclusive to heterosexual couples, buying a home does pose a different set of questions for the LGBT community. This fact alone substantiates the valid questions that gay couples face when they consider buying a home together.
Same-sex couples have been successfully purchasing homes together for years. Same-sex couples have at long last earned the deserved respect due them from the powers-that-be, which in this case includes real estate agents and lenders. After all, many same-sex couples do hold a lucrative percentage advantage when it comes to disposable income.
Now that you know that you and your partner can buy a house together, it’s time to answer the next set of questions – and these are serious. If you think this takes all the fun out of buying a home together, then you can’t imagine how much less fun you’ll have purchasing a house if you do not answer these questions early on.
* How much house can you afford?
A quick easy answer – 36 percent of your combined gross income, minus all of your monthly bills.
If your monthly gross is $4,350 and you have a car payment ($320), student loans ($118) and credit cards ($108), here is a quick calculation: $4350 x .36 = $1566 minus the three bills above (320 + 118 + 108 = $546) = $1020.
Now we’ve determined you have $1020 max to contribute – make the same calculations for your partner and find the grand total.
Calculators are available at www.gaymortgageloans.com where you can put in your desired “payment” and find out what price home you should be looking for. Click on your state for a lender that can answer specific questions – remember, down payment, interest rates and a variety of factors need to be determined.
When you are estimating your budget for a house, make sure to calculate expenses for property taxes, homeowners insurance, normal maintenance and upkeep of the house itself, lawn care costs and any utility such as water, sewer, heat, etc. that you may not currently be paying separately.
Another important element to consider when looking at your budget is expected life changes. Is either of you planning a career change or considering taking a break from your job altogether to work on your Ph.D.? Are you talking about having a child together? While a lender will not ask these questions, you need to be very open with each other about any such anticipated changes that will have a significant impact on your joint finances.
* Whose income will the lender use to qualify us for a loan?
In a perfect world, this would not even be a question. However, since it is not perfect yet, same-sex couples face the issue of qualifying for a mortgage as a non-married or non-related couple. This means that the credit application will be either approved or denied based upon the creditworthiness of the strongest borrower.
There are also various types of loans available for your consideration. Fixed rate mortgages and adjustable rate mortgages are the two most common types of home loans. As the term fixed implies, the interest rate does not change during the term of the loan. With an adjustable rate mortgage, the interest rate fluctuates based on various published market indexes.
Although the typical mortgage term is 30 years, options for mortgage terms of 15 or 20 years are also available. A 30-year mortgage generally has lower payments than those shorter terms, but the advantage of shorter terms is that you pay off your debt in fewer years.
* How do we find the home of our dreams?
If you’ve ever purchased a home before, you know that finding the perfect house is often easier said than done, particularly if you are trying to find it on your own. For instance, you love the house, but hate the neighborhood or vice versa. Perhaps you love both the house and the neighborhood, but your partner hates both or any combination of scenarios.
A word of wisdom here: you may think you have found the perfect home, but you may be in for the nightmare of a lifetime if you are contemplating the purchase of a FSBO. In case you are not familiar with the term, it means for sale by owner. Translated further, a FSBO is a house that is owned by someone who is attempting to market and sell their home without the professional help of a Realtor. It simply is not practical to think that you will really get a deal from a private seller.
When you work with a licensed real estate agent or broker, you have a substantial advantage over other buyers. Why spend your free time driving around trying to find potential houses to buy? An agent or broker knows the market in your area as well as the qualities and amenities of local neighborhoods. He or she already knows the pluses and minuses of the properties they offer.
Same-sex couples can tap into a literal online gold mine of real estate expertise at www.gayrealestate.com, whose mission is ensuring that members of the LGBT community have a resource for guiding them to quality agents who will represent them with understanding and insight, and without bias.