If you and your spouse weren’t fighting before you started to look for a home, get ready for a squabble.
Brokers say buying a home is often one of the most stressful things couples do together. It can put your marriage or friendship to the test. It can bring out the secret monster that lives inside your spouse.
With that in mind, it’s not surprising that many couples who purchase homes together have a somewhat difficult time agreeing to agree on both the big and little details. For instance, which style of home, what kind of amenities it has, or even where the home is located can prove to be big stumbling blocks.
Sometimes couples can’t even agree on the broker they’re going to use. When Mark and Amy were beginning the search for their new home, they spent a weekend working with two brokers. One was quiet and soft-spoken, the other loud and aggressive. Needless to say, Mark and Amy found they preferred different brokers.
In the rare case, couples sometimes disagree about whether or not to move at all. One New York couple can’t decide whether or not to change their lifestyle completely and move from Trump Tower, the famed skyscraper built by Donald Trump in Manhattan. If they do decide to move from their tony neighborhood, another fight is in the offing: The husband wants to move to a small town on Long Island, while the wife prefers a small town in Westchester County.
“Everyone in my office has stories about couples fighting,” says Rick Druker, a longtime Chicago sales agent. “It’s the most natural thing in the world to fight over where you’re going to live because a home is such a personal, intimate thing.”
But brokers say there are ways to quell the squabbles besides calling in a referee. One of the ways to avert the arguments is to talk about what you want out of a home before you start working with a broker.
Often experienced brokers recommend that each spouse writes out a detailed wish list, which lists everything they’d like to have in their dream home, including location, amenities, and size. After you’ve each written it out, compare the lists to find the common ground.
Sometimes, the common ground may be slight. For example, if you and your spouse each like different suburbs in a metropolitan area, but want to have only a 15-minute commute to work, your broker should be able to take that information and find all the neighborhoods in your price range within that geographic location.
“Most people have fears about moving to a new location, or a different type of home, say a condo to a single family home,” Druker notes. “If you’re honest about your fears, concerns or issues, you and your partner will find a compromise.”
Another stress point is that one spouse often assumes the other will disregard his or her feelings and just go ahead and buy any old house.
Druker says the way to alleviate that particular stress is for the couple to find a broker who says to you, “I’ll never let you buy something that the other hates. We’ll find something you both like.”