Most of us, since we were young, have envisioned owning a home. It’s a rite of passage to adulthood.
You likely romanticized what style house you wanted in what locale before you even started your home search. If you were buying the home by yourself, you’d simply buy the one you wanted. However, when you’re looking with a spouse, the buying process can become a lot more complicated.
When Everything Goes Well
Ideally, you and your spouse would agree on what you’re looking for in a house and would agree on the house you’d like to buy. Luckily, that happened for my husband and me. We just became first time homebuyers and knew that we wanted an open floor plan with a nice, big backyard for the kids to play in. We looked at 15 homes, and there was only one that we both fell in love with. That was the home we bought.
I recognize that our home buying experience went more smoothly than many couples. Buying a house is a huge financial commitment, so you want to buy a house that you love. Difficulties arise when you and your spouse can’t agree on the same house.
When Couples Can’t Agree
My friends, Brad and Becky, had a completely different experience. Becky wanted to live in a subdivision so the kids would have plenty of other kids to play with. Brad, on the other hand, wanted to live in the country so he’d have plenty of room to ride his ATV.
Becky wanted a large kitchen and luxurious master suite. Brad wanted a large garage and preferably a pole barn in back where he could do his work and spend time working on cars.
Because they couldn’t come to an agreement, their home search took nearly 9 months!
How to Meet in the Middle
Surprisingly, meeting in the middle does not have to be that difficult. Jim Cox, a realtor who’s been in the business for 18 years, states, “If buyers engage an agent thoroughly with the area where they’re looking, the agent can often help locate a compromise property that satisfies both partners’ key preferences.” He adds, “‘I’m a good listener. And if both people really know what they want, I can usually find it for them very quickly, even if they don’t agree'” (Los Angeles Times).
The trick is to know exactly what you want. What features are non-negotiable? Maybe you want a big kitchen, but you don’t have to have a large master bath. Maybe you want four bedrooms, but you don’t have to have the pool that’s also on your “want” list.
Ideally, a couple will sit down and write down all the features they want in a house. Then they should number the features in order of most to least important.
Just as important, each person should determine how much they’re willing to spend on a house. Knowing the cap a couple is willing to spend is important both when finding houses to look at and when placing and offer and responding to a counter offer.
My Questions for You
If you’re a homeowner, how smooth was the home buying process for you? Did you and your spouse agree?
If not, how did you finally resolve your differences?
What advice would you give to a couple who can’t agree when looking for a home?