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Whether you are married or in a committed relationship, buying a home together is a major life change. Navigating the house-hunting process can be exciting and filled with promise, but it can also come with stress and worry. Buying property together can reveal unexpected financial hurdles, challenges with making compromises, and disagreements on style and location. In fact, more than 60 percent of couples admitted to arguing more than occasionally during the home-buying process. The good news: The same percentage said they got through the rough patches just fine and felt more committed to each other after signing on the dotted line.
Are you and your partner looking to buy a home together? Keep the stress low and the enthusiasm high with these four tips for keeping your relationship strong while house hunting.
Get a Storage Unit
It’s not uncommon for couples to disagree on which furniture, decor, and other items will make an appearance in a new home. While you might be considering purchasing new rugs, lamps, and furniture, your partner may be content with those dining room chairs that don’t match or have a sentimental attachment to that couch from college. Instead of adding to the stress of house hunting, put items you don’t see eye-to-eye on into storage until you’re ready to make a decision. At $90 to $300 a month, it’s a financially reasonable way to keep the peace as long as you make it a short-term option. Don’t forget to set aside a little for a moving truck (U-Haul rentals start at around $19.99).
Commit to a Budget
Just because you pre-qualify for a million-dollar home doesn’t mean you have to max out your monthly mortgage payment. Before you start looking for a house, talk to a lender like Reliant Mortgage to get an idea of the kind of home loan you’ll qualify for. Then, decide how much you can comfortably afford to pay. Remember to factor in closing costs and other fees associated with owning a home like homeowners insurance, potential remodeling costs, property taxes, and maintenance fees.
Working with your partner to set — and stick to — a realistic budget can keep arguments to a minimum. You can use websites like You Need a Budget ($6.99 per month) to help keep you on track. Now is also a great time to agree on a decorating budget together to help minimize disagreements once you move in. If you set a reasonable amount and shop at retailers like Overstock.com and Kohls.com, you can find great pieces at great prices.
Narrow Down Neighborhoods
While you may be looking for a modern, urban townhouse, your partner may have a quiet country life in mind. Take the time to discuss your ideal neighborhoods so you are searching for homes in areas that will satisfy both your needs and wants. Keep in mind things like work commute, schools (if kids are in the picture), and easy access to recreation such as nightlife, shopping, parks, or museums. Also, keep your sights set on the same house-hunting horizon by narrowing your search to neighborhoods you agree upon.
Compromise on Size and Space
Your dream home comes with a spacious kitchen, but your spouse couldn’t care less about cooking. He or she wants a home with a big backyard for an outdoor living room. Make a list of your must-haves and could-haves and compare them. Decide on the square footage and desired layouts that will best suit both your needs so you don’t end up arguing about homes.
Then, agree on areas where you can be flexible and times when you will remain firm. This will help make sure you don’t cling to homes that your partner may not be happy with.
Buying a home is one of several large life decisions that can add pressure to a relationship. If you are open and honest, you can get ahead of a lot of the common arguments. Work on your plans and prepare together to make the house hunt happier and your relationship stronger.