If you are like us, there is no better way to kill a Sunday afternoon than by sitting down in front of the TV and binging reality shows about couples buying a new home. Whether it is a young couple purchasing their starter house or a family looking for their vacation home by the beach or lake, we love going along with them on their home shopping journeys and trying to guess which property they will eventually choose. Of course, as real estate experts, we realize that what we see on the television is a highly stylized and edited version of the actual home-buying process. We know that finding the right place usually takes more than looking at three properties. Sometimes it can even take a toll on the relationship of the couple buying.
Buying a new home with your partner can put a lot of undue stress on your relationship. Investing in a property together is a huge commitment and it comes with serious financial consequences. Beyond issues with money, sometimes couples clash over things like taste and expectations regarding the size or extravagance of a future home.
Why Do Couples Disagree?
The simple answer to the question “why do couples fight when buying a home?” is this: communication. The couples that go into the home buying process thinking it is all about Pinterest boards and housewarming parties are the ones that are most unprepared for the amount of work and compromise that goes into this endeavor. When expectations are unclear, it only leaves more room for disappointment and conflict.
Because communication between couples is the key to a happy home buying experience, we find that the longer a couple has been together, the less conflict there is. It’s simple– couples that have spent years together getting to know each other are more in tune with their partner’s desires, tastes, and opinions. New couples whose relationships haven’t passed the year mark are less open to compromise and more likely to disagree with each other. On the other hand, couples that have been together for at least five years are generally on the same wavelength.
Improving Communication Before House Hunting
Of course, these are just anecdotal trends we’ve observed. Every couple is unique and time spent together does not necessarily indicate how well you know your partner. Whether you’ve been together five months or 50 years, you can help make the entire process smoother by sitting down together and going over some of the things you’ll likely come across when buying a home. Asking each other these questions and sharing your answers will facilitate helpful communication and set the grounds for negotiation.
How much money do you have to spend on a house? Go over your debt-to-income ratio and find out how much you can afford for a monthly mortgage payment on top of your down payment. Going over each other’s debt can also help you decide whether or not you should both be on the loan application. Talking about financial stress first and foremost is the most difficult part of this conversation, so it is downhill from there.
What are your non-negotiables? What do you, as individuals, really want in a new home that you are not willing to give up?
How much space do you need? Are you planning on having kids in the future? Do you want to have a yard? Are you willing to sell and buy a new house in case you want more space in the future?
Are you prepared to put in renovation work? Some people love the idea of a fixer-upper— others want something that is ready to move in. Remember: renovations are often costly, so if they are something you are open to, be prepared to work those expenses into your budget.
What if it doesn’t work out? Nobody wants to think about breaking up, but the fact is it happens. Talking about what you expect from your partner when it comes to splitting property after separating can prevent tons of drama in the future.
Buying a new home as a couple presents plenty of opportunities for conflict. The secret to buying a home and keeping your relationship intact is communication. Sitting down with your partner and going over the hard questions together before you proceed can help prevent drama down the road.