For many couples, buying a home together has replaced tying the knot when it comes to proving their undying love. Stepping hand-in-hand onto the property ladder is a huge commitment and is an act that can cement a relationship. However, without proper planning, it can also bring it crashing down.
While you may not always see eye to eye along the way, house hunting with your significant other can lead to the happily-ever-after you’ve been longing for. Check out our 6 tips to help your journey flow smoothly, rather than stalling in rocky waters.
Be Sure You’re on the Same Page
The strongest relationships are made of compromise, while each partner remains an individual. When you decide to buy a home together, you need to be sure you both know what the other wants. It’s a good idea to each make a separate list of what you’re looking for in a home, without influencing each other.
Consider location, size, and whether you want a fixer-upper or a new build for example. When you’re done, compare your lists and see what you have in common. The common ground you share should act as the foundation, while other points may need discussion and compromise. Before starting house hunting, be sure both of your needs and desires are catered for equally.
Figure Out Your Finances
It’s important to straighten out your finances early on. If you haven’t been entirely honest about the state of your finances to your partner, now is the time to do so. You will both require credit checks and it’s worth bearing in mind that the lower score is generally taken into account by lenders. If one of you has a low credit score, it’s a good idea to work on raising it before you start house hunting.
Getting a pre-approved mortgage is another great idea. This avoids any potential disappointment as you will know exactly how much you can spend on your new home together, rather than being disappointed that your dream home is too expensive. This disappointment can often put strain on a relationship, so it’s best to avoid the risk entirely.
Think with Your Head
Buying a home is always an emotional time but it can be doubly emotional when there are two people involved. However, it’s vital that you look at facts rather than emotional drives when you’re budgeting. Be realistic about what you can afford together and when you are viewing properties – don’t let your heart rule your head. You will be one step closer to finding your dream home if you don’t over-stretch your budget and avoid other first-time home buyer mistakes that could derail your project.
Also, be prepared to tackle the tricky reality of break-ups and their consequences. After you’ve bought a home together, it’s far more difficult to walk away. This worst-case scenario should be discussed frankly before buying. A legally binding written agreement that covers what each partner contributes to the down payment, how much equity you each have and what each of you will pay (i.e. mortgage, taxes, etc.), is well worth considering. The same agreement should account for what will happen in the event of a break-up.
Hire an Agent
A real-estate agent is a worthwhile investment when buying a home and for couples they can provide many more services. They can act as a mediator when disagreements arise and even as a counselor at times. It’s in their best interest that both parties are happy and confident that they’re doing the right thing.
Estate agents don’t share the same emotional ties that couples have and can see things from a different perspective. This insight is invaluable and can help you out of the rut you may be stuck in. By hiring an agent, neither partner needs to assume responsibility for the finer details of house hunting. This prevents any rows over one person doing more than the other and takes the strain off both partners. A good agent will also help you decide on the best title options for your relationship.
Remember Honesty is the Best Policy
All good relationships thrive on trust and honesty. When you’re buying a house together, honesty is even more important than ever. Firstly, you have to be open about your finances, else you risk being turned down for a mortgage at the last minute, which can come as a shock when your partner had their mind set on the home of their dreams.
You’ve also got to be honest about what you like and more importantly, what you don’t like. It’s noble to try to placate your partner by pretending you like all the things they do, but you should remember that this will be your home as well. Don’t settle for anything you don’t like for the short-term happiness of your partner, as there will likely be long-term consequences.
Prioritize Your Relationship
Finally, remember why you wanted to buy a home with your partner in the first place. The relationship you have together should always take priority over a new home. There will always be houses on the market, so be prepared to take a step back from time to time.
If your house hunting has stalled and you can’t seem to agree on anything, don’t allow resentment to take hold. At this point take a break from it, spend two weeks without discussing it at all. Instead, focus on each other and making one another happy. When you return to the house hunt refreshed, you might just find things run more smoothly.
You may not agree on everything when it comes to house hunting, but it’s unlikely you agree on everything in life anyway! The stakes may be higher when you’re buying a home together, but never forget why you’ve decided to commit to your partner in this way. Be open, honest and realistic throughout the process and be prepared to take a step back from time to time.