How to survive buying a home with a partner

Buying a home with your beloved can be a real challenge but with a bit of compromise, it is possible to nab a property with your relationship still intact.

If you’ve run out of things to argue about with your partner, maybe it’s time to consider buying a house together. Buying a home requires a great deal of compromise when it comes to location, property choice and money. When you’re doing that with someone else in tow, let’s just say the situation can become a little touchy!

It’s important for couples to be firmly on the same page, but this process can take time. Even when both partners seem to agree, there are often subtle differences in what each wants, which can make it hard to come to a decision. Often these differences don’t even show up until one of you finds a property you really like. You probably had no idea that your partner loves terracotta tiles, right?

Signs you’re ready to buy a house with someone

As buying a home is such a major commitment, it goes without saying that your relationship really needs to be strong before you take this step. You’d think that would be an obvious point, but I’m always kind of stunned at how many couples signs on the dotted line together when their relationship is clearly on shaky ground.

Beyond that, having compatible values around money should not be overlooked. I really believe that your chances of success will be greater if you are both equal financial partners. You’ve probably already made sacrifices in order to save the deposit, so you should have some history to reflect on here. Very importantly you should also both be ready to live in the same location. If one of you secretly wants to sip lattes at any given chance in trendy city cafes, but the other is desperate to farm their own potatoes in a rural setting, it’s going to be tough!

Uncover any deal breakers

Often couples start the buying journey thinking that they are completely aligned. But I question whether that’s really the case. It’s vital to identify and acknowledge any differences before compromises can be agreed upon. Couples who are scared to openly disagree often float around making no commitments. Or at its worst, in some cases, I have seen the less vocal partner sabotage property deals to the bemusement of the other.

Parents with young kids often have strong differences, particularly if one spends more time at home. The housebound parent will often give greater value to being within walking distance of shops, cafes and parks so that they can feel connected with other adults during the day. On the other hand, the full-time working parent might want tranquillity after a stressful work week and prefer a more isolated part of the suburb.
Hobbies can also lead to conflict if the activity requires space and your budget is already tight. Your partner might be a gamer and needs a dedicated soundproof space, or they might spend the weekend in the garage tinkering with old cars. This is all well and good as long as it doesn’t mean that you can’t afford to stay in your favourite suburb.

Once the deal breakers for each partner are on the table and discussed at length, it’s easier to work out which compromises both can live with. This is why it’s so important for both partners to be actively involved in the property search.

6 steps for successfully buying a home with a partner

If you’re wanting to emerge with a great place and your sanity still in order, here are my top co-buying tips:

1. Accept you’ll have differences even if you think you agree on everything.

Firstly, it’s okay to have different preferences. What’s important is that you don’t set yourself up for disappointment by pretending they don’t exist. Be brutally honest.

2. Write your wish lists separately then compare notes.

Don’t cheat! Write down your own must-haves first. This process always shows up at least one area of difference and it’s important to discuss them before you start inspecting any property.

3. Compile a joint list starting with the things you both want.

Do this list next. The things you both want now become your list of essentials.

4. List the things you differ on.

Discuss and negotiate on the sticking points. If you can’t come to an agreement at this stage, put the list aside to review in a few weeks’ time after you’ve inspected a few places.

5. Go and inspect properties together.

It’s absolutely critical you don’t let one half do all the work unless they’re the sole decision maker. The only way to fairly negotiate your differences is if you’ve both shared the workload and have equal market knowledge.

6. Revisit the differences.

Once you’ve both inspected a number of properties and got a handle on what your money will buy in your chosen areas, take a look at your differences again. Often at this stage, you will have a more realistic idea of what you can afford and may have even adjusted your own thoughts as to what you’re prepared to compromise on.

The sooner you can both be honest about what you and your partner want both individually and jointly, the sooner you can buy a home and get on with life!

Veronica Morgan is a Sydney-based property expert, buyer's agent and principal of Good Deeds Property Buyers.

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