House hunting as a couple can be a lot of fun! It can also be crazy frustrating and discouraging – especially when you can’t find that “perfect home” you both agree on.
Most couples don't realize that they are looking for two completely different houses, so putting guidelines in place can help you narrow your options to a home that satisfies you both.
So what’s the trick? We've narrowed it down to these 4 tips to make your house search less stressful and a lot more successful.
1. Figure Out a Budget Before You Start Your Home Search
Unless you’re a finance person, most people don’t enjoy talking about a budget. However, It’s better to run the numbers in advance and know what you can and can’t afford.
Nothing is worse than finding your dream home and then realizing you can’t possibly pay for it. Avoid that kind of discouragement and run the numbers now so your options are realistic.
When considering your budget, you should first consider your mortgage payment. This monthly payment will be based on several factors including your down payment and the interest rate you get approved for by your mortgage lender.
Next, remember to include other costs like property taxes, homeowner's insurance, utilities, and neighborhood association fees. These costs can add up, so it's important to put them into consideration when calculating how much you are comfortable spending each month on your housing expenses.
According to an article by the New York Times, you should aim to spend no more than 35 percent of your pretax income on mortgage, property tax and home insurance payments to avoid getting in over your head.
Lastly, it is important to calculate your down payment and closing costs so you know how much money you will need upfront when you do decide on a property.
If you need help, consider contacting a bank or mortgage broker to give you a better idea of how much you’ll qualify for and what the closing costs will be. They can also get you pre-approved for a loan, which will make you more competitive compared to other buyers when you want to make an offer on a home.
2. Develop a List of Key Features in Your Dream Home
Once you have set your budget, each of you should write down a “must-have” list of key features for your dream home. You both may have different thoughts about what your new home should include, so it's best to communicate these with each other.
We recommend physically writing down your thoughts so you both can think through and identify your needs and priorities.
Here are some questions to help guide your thought process:
- What does the concept of “home” mean to you? Is it a place for rest and relaxing? A place to hangout with friends and family? An escape from the demands of work? A place to enjoy your hobbies?
- What do you like to do in your spare time? Do you like to watch TV or read from a quiet nook? Do you enjoy cooking or entertaining? Will you tinker in the garage or plant a garden? Go for a run? Or for a round of golf?
- What's important to you about your homes location? How will you get to work and what’s the commute like? Do you work from home and have special home office needs? If you have kids, is being in a top school district important for you? Or if your kids are in private school, how close is the school and where do your kids’ friends live?
- What amenities would you want nearby? Would you like parks, playgrounds, trails or paths close to your home? How about golf, tennis, or a gym? Think about access to the grocery store, shopping and restaurants. How far are you willing to drive [or walk] to get these places?
- What’s your style? Do you want a home that’s a fixer-upper or one that’s move-in-ready? Historic bungalow or new construction? Established neighborhood or new development? City center – or away from traffic? Traditional or modern?
- What home features are absolutely essential? What would be nice to have, but aren’t necessarily essential? And what features are deal breakers – things you definitely do NOT want your home to have?
3. Communicate, Collaborate… and Compromise
Once you have decided on a budget and a list of wants and needs, it’s time to sit down together and compare notes (maybe over a nice glass of wine!).
Unless you’re building a custom home, it’s unlikely you’ll find a home that has everything on your list. And even if you are building a brand new home, you’ll likely have to give up some things for the sake of your budget.
Talk about your shared vision for your home. Then, working together, put features and amenities in to 3 buckets: must have, nice to have, and must NOT have.
Knowing what is essential to both of you, what you can compromise on, and what's a deal breaker will make your search less stressful… and more successful.
4. Stick To Your Budget & Features List When Searching For A Home
Finally, with your list in hand, take it for a test drive.
Before engaging a REALTOR, take advantage of open houses or model homes to see what's on the market and how the options compare to the guidelines you've set for what you can afford and what features you think you should have in your dream home.
Remember, there is no perfect home (unless money is no object), so you will have to compromise. The key is to know what’s most important to you – and to your partner.
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When you get serious about finding a home, you can book tours online of any home with SimpleShowing. Plus, when you buy with a SimpleShowing Agent, you will get a refund of $5,000 on average that you can put towards closings costs or even new furniture!
Find out more about the Buyer Refund Program and schedule tours online today by visiting SimpleShowing.com.