Your first house as a couple can be the stuff of dreams. Hunting for your first house as a couple can be a lot of fun, or extremely frustrating, depending on the situations you come across. Things can get particularly trying when you’re unable to find the ideal home you’re looking for. While it is difficult to find the perfect house for rent in the first place, it is even more difficult to find a home two people agree on. Most couples set out to look for their next home with their ideas about what they’re looking for, and end up realizing that practically they have different priorities. For example, did you know that experts suggest that your payments should not add up to more than 25% of your combined in-hand income?
To make the process of making these decisions easier, it is a good idea to establish some ground rules and try to be on the same page before going house hunting. The basic idea is to come up with a few points that both you and your partner agree on. We’ve put together some tips to make house hunting with your significant other a much easier and productive experience:
- Make sure you both are on the same page
When you’re looking for homes or rental houses with your partner, many situations will come up when you may disagree. It could be the size of the garage, whether or not you want a pool or the age-old debate on what to do with the extra room/space. To minimize conflicts, it is best to have some important conversations about your budget, priorities, and sharing of responsibilities. Try to come on the same page without coaxing or influencing each other.
- Straighten out your finances
Before committing to any new investment, it is important to have a clear discussion about your budget and the kind of house and way of life you and your partner can afford. This is best done early on in the home hunting phase. Whether you’re looking to buy a home or taking a look at listing of a house for rent, you will both go through credit checks. Banks usually take the one with the lower credit score into consideration. So before you set out to look for a home, you may want to work on your credit score. You can also consider pre-approved mortgages.
- Agree on the key features you both want
To ensure minimal conflict, you can work on a list of must-have features that you want in your home. You can both work on your list then come together to zero down on a final list of must-have features in your dream home or house for rent. Some inspirations for this list include location, amenities, style, recreational activities, and your idea of home.
- Prepare yourself for compromises
When you are working on looking for common ground in terms of your expectations from your dream home, you and your partner should prepare yourself to make compromises here and there. Naturally, you both will have your own set of expectations from your dream home, but it is next to impossible to find a home that checks off every point on both of your lists. So, what do you do? You make compromises. You brace yourselves for the possibility of fair exchange and letting go of some desires to come to a mutual agreement.
- Being practical never hurts
Understandably, buying or renting a home together can be an emotional experience for you. However, it is important to dissociate your emotions from certain decisions, especially when it comes to finances and terms of the agreement. You also need to be realistic about whether or not you can afford a home. Taking an emotional decision ‘in the moment’ then living house-poor and bleeding out your savings into the maintenance and upkeep of the house is not a sound investment decision and leaves you at risk for the future.
- Take help from a realtor
A realtor can act as an impartial third party, listening to your disputes and offering solutions from a third-person perspective. Realtors already have a lot of experience and property know-how. After understanding your situation and needs, they can offer the best options available in the real estate market that would make both you and your partner happy.
- Talk about mortgage and type of homeownership
There can be different approaches to how you want to pay mortgages. Some couples decide to split the down payment then become co-owners on the mortgage. Some like to purchase the house as joint tenants, which means that both parties enjoy equal ownership of the property and there is a survivorship clause. The other case is of tenancy in common, in which there is no survivorship clause in case one partner dies.
- Discuss bills and upgrades
You may also want to have discussions such as in what percentage will the bills and maintenance costs split, how the rent or mortgage will be paid, and, in case one person loses their job or if you have kids, then who stays home and who takes care of the bills? It also applies in the case of rental houses.
- Have an exit strategy
While it may sound anticlimactic, especially when setting out to look for your dream home, it is a safe practice in the interest of both partners to have a sound and peaceful buyout or exit strategy in place in case things do not go as planned.
Evaluating the risks involved and tying up loose ends makes sure that your house hunting experience with your partner is a memorable one with minimal conflict. When looking for rental houses with your partner, be prepared to lose along the way and remember to celebrate even the smallest of victories. There is no secret to successfully buying the house of your dreams; all you have to do is work as a team from start to finish!
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