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Home buying can be a stressful process, but when you throw two different opinions in the mix, it can be downright agonizing. Maybe you’re dying for a cute home in the suburbs, but your spouse loves the idea of lots of land in the country. These disagreements can create roadblocks on your way to arriving at the perfect home.
With low inventory and rising home values in popular housing markets, you have to act quickly when you find your dream home. Don’t let a stalemate with your spouse cause you to miss out. Check out these tips to help you get on the same page as your honey and keep your house hunt from turning into World War III.
Make Separate Must-Have Lists
Your best shot at a compromise is to find out what you and your spouse have in common. When Amber Gunn, an Austin, Texas-based real estate agent and one of Dave’s Endorsed Local Providers (ELPs), works with married couples, she has each person list out their top 10 must-have features along with their top 10 wishes.
“I like [for couples] to make these lists separately, independently of each other, and then if they don't have at least five matching things on the must list, I make them go to 20,” says Gunn. “Just so we can find five common things that are really important to both of them.”
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Start crafting your own list, and have your spouse do the same. Compare the lists and identify a handful of home features (location, number of rooms, size of backyard) that are important to both of you. These agreed-upon features will serve as the foundation to your home-buying discussion. When you and your spouse start the home search on common ground, you’ll be more likely to compromise later down the road.
Take Your Emotion Out of the Budget
House-hunting couples most often disagree on how much money they should spend on a home, according to a Facebook poll of Dave’s fans. Should you take on a higher mortgage to get your forever home? Or should you go the conservative route and get slightly smaller digs?
Do your best to take emotions out of the equation and look at the facts. Your monthly payments should be no more than 25% of your take-home pay. Veto any home that doesn’t fall within that price range. Don’t get caught up imagining holidays and family gatherings in a huge, extravagant kitchen. A forever home won’t be yours forever if it’s out of your price range.
Jessica R. fell in love with the highest priced home that she thought was still in her budget range, while her husband favored a home that was about $10,000–20,000 less. They bought the more expensive home but only lived in it for a year before renting it out. Despite being approved for the loan amount, Jessica realized after they moved in that the house payments were too high. As time went on, the house began draining them of every penny.
Eventually she and her husband had to sell—learning a tough lesson in the process. “If our home had been affordable, we may have been able to keep it and, at the very least, enjoyed our first home for more than one year,” she explains.
By removing your emotions from the decision, you’ll be able to choose a home you and your spouse will enjoy (and still have!) years from now.
Be Willing to Postpone the House Hunt
If you and your spouse are butting heads, take a step back from the conversation. There will always be new homes for sale, but digging in your heels over a home-purchase disagreement will only create a divide between you and your significant other. Gunn often advises couples who are having trouble finding common ground to take a two-week break from the discussion then reconvene. “I do believe their marriage is more important than a house. I would rather them get on the same page than it be a really rocky situation,” she says.
A home isn’t worth straining your marriage. Compromise is key to finding something that will fit both of your needs. When Jenny J. was looking for a home with her husband, she focused on three things during the search: necessities, budget and partnership. If couples don’t prioritize these things, she says, “You might as well be single again and buy a house on your own.”
So if you and your spouse can’t agree on a home, take a breather. Make a pact that you will not discuss locations, square footage, price and so on for at least a couple of weeks. Then come back to the discussion with a fresh perspective and outlook.
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Let Your Real Estate Agent Be Your Mediator
A quality real estate agent can listen to your housing disputes and help bridge the gap between you and your spouse. With their intimate knowledge of the market, an experienced agent can provide sound, unbiased advice.
Gunn has plenty of experience assisting couples who want different things from a home. She jokes, “We are counselors—that’s like our second job!” Gunn explains that she’s able to make sure each person feels heard, ease tensions, and find a solution that works for everyone.
Leigh S. found an agent to be invaluable during her lengthy search for a home. “My [agent] helped me step back from the ledge a few times when I wanted to make some emotional decisions when it was taking too long.” Her agent didn’t have any emotional ties to the situation, so Leigh found it easier to listen to input.
Don’t let a stressful situation like buying a home cause strife with your spouse. A real estate pro can help you find a place you both love. Get in touch with an ELP in your area today!