The hallmark of a strong relationship is being able to weather the storms of life – some minor and some major – and come out on the other side stronger. One of the most stressful times for a couple is the home buying process, and that’s true of new couples and of those who’ve been together for ages. A recent survey found that 60 percent of couples said they had disagreements at some point during the hunting/buying of their home. Here’s how to ensure the process goes smoothly and your relationship stays strong.
Codify your priorities, first and foremost
The chances that you and your partner share the exact same view of what you want in a home are slim, and that’s okay. Like most things in a relationship, buying a home is all about compromise. Having said that, it’s still important that you codify, in no uncertain terms, what each of you wants in a property. One good way to begin is to “create a personal ‘must-have’ list and a ‘nice-to- have’ list. Then, review and compare each of your individual preferences together.”
Remind yourself what can be changed in a house
There are many elements of a home that you can never change, for example its location or the size of the yard (mostly). You can’t really change the number of floors or the school district. All of these considerations need to be hashed out before you choose your new home.
But whenever you feel a disagreement emerging, take a step back and remember that much about a house can be changed. You can change the paint. You can change the flooring. You can add tile, hardwood, or carpet. You can alter features. And yes, you can even change the layout of your home or tack on an addition. Don’t get hung up on things that can’t be changed.
Hammer out a budget before you do anything
As with many things, homebuying ultimately comes down to money. You can agree on everything else, but if something goes wrong on the financial side you could find yourself severely damaging your relationship. Take a look at both of your finances. Figure out how much you can afford to spend on a monthly mortgage payment – but that’s not all. Factor in the cost of utilities, repairs, insurance and general maintenance. It’s these “hidden costs” that can trip people up. Once you know what you can afford, you can set a hard line that you cannot cross. This will help to prevent fights over properties. If a home is too expensive, there’s always the budget to blame – not either one of you.
Take some time to focus on your relationship
It’s easy to get caught up in the house hunting/buying process – it’s a big life event and it’s fun (most of the time). But the further down the rabbit hole you go, the more you find that everything, every day, is about the house. It’s typical for couples in this position to forget to tend to the needs of their partner – and ultimately the relationship as a whole. You must take time away from the stress of all this to actively keep your relationship strong. Show affection daily. Keep the lines of communication open. Have a weekly date night – no exceptions! If the stress is getting to be too much, then take a break altogether. Go on a short vacation. There will still be homes available to purchase when you return.
In the end, remember that you and your partner are doing this together, and your love is the only reason you’re doing it. Without that, what’s the point of buying a home together? Whenever things get rough – which they will – tell yourself that most things can be compromised upon, if you buy within your means you won’t overextend yourselves, and your relationship is the most important aspect of all of it.