As a couple, few things are more exciting than buying your first home together. It’s a sign of true commitment to one another and shows that you plan to stick together for the long run. Getting it right can cement a relationship, but getting it wrong can cause cracks to appear.
Of course, you won’t always see eye to eye, and your wants and needs are unlikely to be identical. However, this should never be a hindrance. Indeed, house hunting with your significant other can result in that happily ever after you’ve dreamed of.
With that in mind, let’s look at seven tips to help you and your partner find your dream home.
1. Get Your Finances in Order
Before you begin to think about house hunting with your partner, you must get your finances in order. The earlier you do this, the better. Now’s the time to be upfront and entirely honest about your financial situation if you haven’t already. When you buy a home together, lenders will require credit checks from both of you, and any unresolved debt will come to light regardless.
When it comes to credit checks, it’s worth remembering that lenders will tend to take the lower score into account. So, if you or your partner has a low credit score, it’s best to step back for the time being and take the time to improve it before you start house hunting.
Additionally, discuss your savings and how much you’re willing to delve into them for the down payment and closing costs. Be sure to leave a safety cushion rather than spending all you have, as this can lead to stress later on when mortgage repayments, utility bills, maintenance costs, and all the other post-moving costs start to pile up.
2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
Once you’re happy that you’ve both raised your credit scores and have enough in the bank for a down payment, closing costs and a safety cushion, it’s a great idea to get pre-approved for a mortgage. This is the best way to set an accurate budget for house hunting and avoid potential disappointment by making an offer on a house you can’t afford.
3. Make Sure You’re Looking for the Same Thing
No matter how well you get on, it’s highly unlikely that you and your partner want precisely the same thing from a home. However, a strong relationship is built on compromise while staying true to your own individuality. So, before you start house hunting, it’s a good idea to ensure you both know what the other wants. The best way to go about this is to individually make a list of your needs and wants, ideally without influencing each other.
Think about location, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, floor plans, new build vs fixer-upper, and anything else important. When you’ve made your lists, compare them and figure out what you have in common. Focus on the things that match up rather than those that don’t to build a strong foundation based on common ground.
Those points that don’t match up should be discussed carefully, arriving at a compromise that works for both of you. Once you’re happy that your needs and wants are catered for equally, you’ll be ready to start house hunting. Just be sure to stick to what you’ve discussed and avoid pressuring your partner into choosing a home that doesn’t suit their needs at all.
4. Don’t Let Your Heart Rule Your Head
Seeking out your dream home can be an emotional experience at the best of times. But with two people involved, tensions can soon rise when disagreements surface. When it comes to house hunting, it’s essential to stick to the facts and set realistic financial limits. There’s no point hoping things will just work out even though a property you love is well out of your budget.
It’s also wise to have that difficult conversation about what might happen in the result of a break-up. Of course, buying a home together shows commitment, but you never know what the future holds, and once you own a house together, it’s harder to walk away from the relationship. Have a frank conversation about how you’ll manage things if the worst should happen. Again, stick to facts and consider drawing up a legally binding agreement that details the following:
- What each partner has contributed to the down payment
- How much equity you each have
- What you’ll each pay in terms of bills, taxes, mortgage repayments, etc.
- The agreed process for if you break up.
5. Work With an Agent
Working with a real estate agent is an excellent idea for anyone buying a home. They know the industry inside out, not to mention your local market, plus they have an array of contacts to help your homebuying journey run smoothly. But for couples purchasing a home, they can provide many additional services.
For example, when disagreements arise, an agent can step in and mediate. After all, it’s better for them that both parties are happy. But one of the best things a What is a real estate agent? A real estate agent is a professional who is... More can offer couples is perspective. They don’t have the same emotional ties that a couple may have and can help you get through tough patches. Another advantage to hiring an agent is transferring responsibility, reducing stress considerably.
6. Be Honest With Each Other
Honesty and trust are the cornerstones of a strong relationship, and they’re never more important than when you’re buying a home together. We’ve already mentioned the importance of being open about your financial situation to avoid being turned down by lenders at the last minute.
But it’s also important to be honest about the things you don’t like, as well as what you do like. It’s fairly common for partners to pretend they like all the same things, but in reality, it’s not often true. Remember, it will be your home, too, so don’t settle for things you’ll struggle to live with just to appease your partner. More often than not, this short-sighted behavior can lead to long-term problems.
7. Put Your Relationship First
Remember, if you’re at the stage where you want to buy a home with your partner, there’s a good chance your relationship is in a positive place. Don’t spoil it by getting obsessed with finding the perfect home. Houses come and go, and there will always be something on the market. So, there’s no harm in taking a step back if things have stalled and you don’t seem to agree on anything.
If you get to this point, take a break from house hunting. Give yourselves a couple of weeks without discussing it at all. Use this time to focus on each other and work towards a happier place. After some time, you’ll be surprised at how refreshed you feel, and things will likely start to run more smoothly.