Should you buy or rent when you’re expecting?

Moving is a time of change in your life, especially if you are not moving into a new build and need to arrange for further renovations. Pregnancy is also a time of great change, especially if you’re expecting your first child. It can be confusing whether to rent or buy when you and your partner are expecting a child. On the one hand, your nesting instinct may dictate that you move into a larger property, while your income (which is dwindling in front of your eyes as you consider maternity leave and childcare) may not agree. We’ve asked one of our writers who bought a house while pregnant to help you make an informed decision.

Be prepared to be flexible: Many a career woman (or man) has turned into a nursery-rhyme-chanting wearer of floral clothes as soon as they clap eyes on their newborn. Similarly, many women who thought they would enjoy being a mother 24/7, quickly recoil in horror as the laundry starts mounting up and opt to go back to work in order to be more energised when at home. Truth be told, neither you nor your partner will really know how your baby will change your perception until said baby is cooing gently in the crib.

If you are unsure of whether you will go back to work or not, it’s a good idea to rent until after the baby is born; this way you will have a more realistic idea of your budget when you are ready to buy (and more options available to you after the birth). Besides, your baby won’t take up much room and will only need more space when he or she starts walking.

Having said that, it is important to do your research. You may find that you can buy a house in a more affordable area, allowing you to afford the mortgage payments more easily than your current rental expenditure. However, you need to bear in mind that your children will eventually need to attend schools in the area you buy in, so look for a good location.

Understand your rights as a pregnant women applying for a mortgage: Your mortgage lender is not legally permitted to ask you direct questions about whether you or your partner are planning a baby, are pregnant or are intending to go on maternity/paternity leave. Having said that, they will need to get a realistic idea of whether your financial circumstances will change in order to determine if you will afford the mortgage payments.

What they will ask you is if you know of any circumstances that will affect your ability to make your mortgage payments. Childcare or extended unpaid maternity leave will certainly affect your ability to meet your mortgage obligations, therefore it is better to disclose your plans to your mortgage provider. If one of your parents will be looking after your baby at no cost to you and you will be returning to work full time, it is probably unnecessary to disclose your pregnancy.

Get help and support: Pregnant women may not be the delicate flowers that they used to be, but they should still not move heavy furniture, paint walls (the fumes aren’t ideal for a pregnancy) or spend too much time on their feet. If you do decide to make the big move, get someone else to do the packing and/or renovations. Even heavy duty cleaning can put undue strain on your body and strong chemicals on your skin, so get someone to help with the housework as well.

Your joint income is likely to take a knock after you have children, but the good news is that many homeowners also have children. Whether to buy or rent will depend on a number of circumstances, including your desired area of residence, your income after maternity leave, the child care options you are considering and your current circumstances. Ideally, you would buy a home either when you start thinking about planning a family or at least four month’s after the baby’s birth, but it is entirely possible to move homes successfully while you are expecting, as long as you have a lot of support and make careful preparations.

If you’re in the market for a baby-friendly house that is ready for you to move in (no work required), talk to Tepilo.

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