All’s fair in love and real estate, right? While shopping for a home is exciting for many couples, it’s also a notoriously trying process. As proof, look no further than a recent survey from LendingHome, which found that 60% of couples aged 25 to 45 disagreed with their significant other when buying a house.
LendingHome came to this unromantic statistic by polling over 500 men and women who were either engaged, married, or in domestic partnerships when they purchased a home in the past year. The survey also found out what, exactly, the couples argued about. So in case you’d like to know what you lovebirds are in store for once you start house hunting (or some comfort that you weren’t the only miserable duo out there), check out these top points of conflict among couples.
Argument No. 1: How much debt they’re willing to shoulder
Not surprisingly, money prompted the most friction between couples: 49% of those polled say they disagreed about the level of debt to take on when becoming homeowners. And that’s definitely an area on which you’ll want to get on the same page.
“The most important thing to consider before touring open houses is that you can afford what you are touring,” says Chad Grannan, a buyer’s specialist with Smith & Associates Real Estate, in Tampa, FL. Because if not, you could fall in love with a house you can’t afford—which just sets you up for disappointment.
One way to get an accurate sense of how much home you can afford is to apply for mortgage pre-approval, by submitting your financial records to a lender who can tell you exactly how much money you can comfortably borrow.
“Once [a buyer] gets this and knows what they can afford, they can adjust their search criteria and location based on the approval amount,” says Grannan. “If they see an open house in a desired neighborhood that’s in their budget, they can tour with peace of mind.”
Argument No. 2: What style of house they want
He wants a ranch, she wants a Victorian: Conflicting ideas on the look and design of the house drove a wedge between 46% of couples. But the good news is it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Couples should know that home decor can combine two (or more) different styles into one, often called “transitional style.” Or they can always trade off rooms by letting one partner design the modern dining room while giving the other free rein in the bedroom.
Argument No. 3: Just how big the house should be
Nearly half (45%) of couples confessed that their top disagreement was on how big—or small—the house should be. In this case, it can be helpful to explore exactly how much maintenance and housecleaning that extra square footage will entail, and how it’s going to get done.
“I know a couple who bought a very expensive, custom-crafted large home,” recalls real estate agent Susan Bozinovic, of Northville, MI. “Her husband was warning her all along about the size, but the aspirational factor dazzled her. She now wishes they never went for such a large size; it’s a lot to manage.”
Argument No. 4: To renovate or not to renovate
Sparks can also fly if one person fancies a fixer-upper and the other wants to buy a turnkey house: 43% of couples said renovations were the thing they disagreed about most when buying a home. As with house size, it’s wise to get a firm grasp of how much money such renovations cost, as well as how much time. From there, it’s a whole lot easier to hammer out some realistic goals and reach an agreement you both like.
How to avoid arguments during the home-buying process
The best way to make your home-buying process dispute-free is to sit down with your partner and discuss your hopes and expectations before you start house hunting.
So what criteria should you discuss? Some of the topics Grannan covers with his clients in their buyer consultations are style of home, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, garage, pool, location, school district, and whether they’re open to minor renovations.
Laying these kinds of cards on the table could spare you major headaches later.
“It’s important to get clear on your wants versus needs, your firm deal breakers, and ability to analyze the pros and cons,” says Samantha Burns, the Millennial Love Expert, a licensed couple’s therapist and dating coach in Boston. “The goal is to get on the same page at the beginning of the search in order to minimize conflict throughout the process.”
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