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Compromise is one of the big keys to a successful relationship. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy, especially when it comes to buying a home with your spouse or partner. How do you strike a balance between each person’s needs and wants? How do you stop the home hunting process from becoming a battle that neither of you wants to engage in? Here are a few tips and observations that should help:
Start with a Plan
To begin with, start with a plan. Have a frank conversation about what each person wants and needs: Detached house or townhome? New home or older property? What neighborhood? How much of a down payment makes sense for your budget? Work through these questions and put together a list of what you must have, and what your deal breakers are.
Spend some time look through home magazines together or watch a few real estate shows and compare notes on things that you like and dislike (and be prepared for your tastes to be rather different) When buying a home with your spouse knowing each other’s taste will help during the home search. But remember to keep the primary focus on the way your home should function rather than decor or room color. Changing these things is easy; adding a bathroom is more difficult and costly.
Check Your Credit Health
Nail down the financial details before the search begins. Order your credit reports and check for inaccuracies. In some cases, odd as it may sound, you may not want to repair a negative. Check with a mortgage professional to find out whether you’ll do more harm than good paying off a debt just prior to beginning a home search.
Lenders will scrutinize both your credit scores. If one is significantly lower, it may affect your ability to get a mortgage. Don’t wait for the search process to begin before you start work to repair your credit if it could use a boost.
The Real Test
The real test of compromise will start when the house hunt begins. Even if you stick to the must-have list, there will undoubtedly be homes that one partner loves; the other, not so much.
If you and your partner come to a standstill over a home, discuss why. Could some inexpensive changes make a difference or should you stop wasting time discussing a home that you’ll never agree on
Lastly, don’t let pressure to buy override your opinions or your partner’s. As this is the biggest purchase you’ll make, you both should be totally comfortable with it, whatever it takes.