How to Find a Home With Your Spouse (Without Killing Each Other)
You’ve found the love of your life: Now, it’s time to find a place for the two of you to call home.
For many couples, the search for a home can put a strain on their relationship. Luckily, house hunting can be a rewarding experience for couples, as long as you and your spouse are prepared for the process.
Have the difficult conversations early.
Buying property is a huge financial commitment, and many couples have at least some issues when it comes to budgeting and finances. Little differences in spending habits can sometimes cause friction in a relationship—it’s one thing to disapprove of your spouse’s daily latte on the way to work each morning and another to have significant differences when it comes to spending and saving.
Buying a home isn’t a singular cost—you’ll need the down payment and closing costs, the funds to pay for any maintenance, repairs, or additions to your new home, and, ideally, an emergency fund carrying six months’ worth of mortgage payments so that if you lose your job, you won’t be in danger of losing your new home. That’s a lot of hard-earned money, and it’s important to have open and honest discussion with your spouse about how much money you’re both willing and able to dedicate, how much you’re willing to borrow, and how you’re planning to save.
Luckily, there are tons of resources online help you determine a price range you’re able to afford based on your income and savings. These tools can also help you visualize how changes to your financial situation—like saving for a larger down payment, or lowering your current debt load—might impact your home buying prospects. If you or your partner don’t have great credit, creating a savings plan that you can work towards together can save you a significant amount in interest, and doing your homework before heading to the open house can save you a great deal of stress and heartache.
Prioritize what’s important.
More likely than not, you and your spouse don’t have the same idea about what constitutes the perfect house. Choosing a place to live is an emotional experience, so it’s important that you and your spouse both think carefully about what you really want in a home.
To prevent hurt feelings or dissatisfaction, make a list of must-have features you’re looking for in a home, as well as a list of deal-breakers. Have your spouse do the same, and then identify the qualities you both can’t live without.
Be prepared to compromise. If your husband absolutely needs a huge backyard with lots of property, perhaps that can satisfy your dream of a wrap-around-porch; or at the very least leave that open for a possible future renovation.
Enjoy the process.
A good real estate agent can usually identify options that both parties will love, even if you and your partner have two totally different visions for your dream home. Maybe you’ve always imagined yourself in a rural farmhouse on a country road, but your spouse dreads the idea of a long commute to and from the city. A good agent might direct you to a home in a quiet suburb, close enough to the city for a reasonable commute but far enough away to feel closer to nature.
It may also happen that your idea of what makes a perfect home changes when you start seriously looking. That rural setting might seem idyllic until your car needs a wash just from the drive to the open house. Living in the city might suddenly feel too cramped or too noisy once you start visiting places in more secluded environments.
Enjoy the process. Check in with each other throughout the house hunting process to see if either of you are starting to feel burdened or stressed. If so, it might be wise to table the search until you both have more time to house hunt.
Remember: the goal is to find a place to live where you’ll be for a while. It may be the home where you start your family or embark on a totally phase of life. Planning for and finding that spot is a special time, so go in with a clear mind and open heart.