Buying a property is stressful enough, but add two opinions into the mix and things can get – intense. As you know, partnership is about compromise, therefore buying a house or condo with your significant other is no different. Chances are you will both have your own ideas about what would make for the perfect home, but that doesn’t mean the process can’t be fun or that you can’t get something you will both love. We want to make sure all of your needs are met so we urge you to consider the following techniques and tips when planning to buy a home as a couple.
Write down your needs and wants for a home
Take some time to – and this part is important – individually write down the must-haves, nice-to-haves and absolutely-nots of your ideal future home. Is it a house, townhouse, or condo? How many bedrooms and bathrooms will it have? Will your new home include special features like walk in pantries and closets, basement suites, or air conditioning? What will the grounds or yard look like? How much parking and overall square footage would your ideal home have? Writing things down versus talking about them in the moment will allow you to collect your thoughts and put together a wish list without being influenced by your partner. Once you have your lists, sit down with a relaxing beverage and work on merging your lists together. Even though your agent will act as a neutral third party opinion throughout the process, agreeing on a common list of wants and needs will make your search for a home as a couple much easier.
Neighbourhoods and your commute
Choosing a neighbourhood is almost as important as choosing the physical home you will live in. What types of activities do you and your partner like to do together (and apart)? Is it important to you to be able to walk to trendy local restaurants and amenities, or do you prefer to be close to natural areas and green spaces? Luckily Metro Vancouver has many excellent options when it comes to checking several of these boxes. The only downside is that it is one of the worst areas in Canada to commute in? One of you will likely have a longer commute than the other. If one or both of you regularly work from home or need to travel across townships, you’ll need to take these needs into consideration too.
Fix-up homes vs turn-key homes
While the majority of home owners in the Vancouver area are looking for a “turn key” home that they can begin enjoying to it’s fullest from day one, there are plenty of “do it yourself” experts that don’t mind rolling up their sleeves on a property that needs work to bring it to it’s full potential. Consider what type of home owner you are and whether your significant other is of the same mindset. Having a difference of opinions in the amount of work buying and upgrading a home can cause issues down the road as you get into it. If you differ in your viewpoints on the value of a fix-up home, try and find a property that requires only aesthetic updates (no mechanical, electrical, plumping, or structural issues). Make sure you also decide who will be performing various maintenance jobs on the home. This can be especially important if you haven’t lived together with your partner yet.
Choose your style
So you’ve got good taste – but is it modern or classic? Open concept or cozy? Features aside, decisions on the style and design of your house can impact many other decisions down the road including furniture and accessories. If you are fixing up a home that needs work, you have a blank slate opportunity to make the property what you want it to be so make sure you get on the same page as your partner about this.
What’s Your timeframe?
How long do you plan on being in the house? Is this purchase a forever house or a stepping stone? Knowing the time frame of how long you plan to own the house or condo can help you determine your budget and make it easier to make compromises. It’s easier to live with something you don’t want for 3 or 5 years than it is for 20.
What about kids?
Investing in any kind of long-term living arrangement as a couple will inevitably raise the question of whether babies may be in your future. Even if you aren’t quite ready to start talking about children, the 3-5 year nature of mortgage terms plus all of the time, effort, and money that go into moving will require you to consider whether you need more space and access to schools / parks, etc. This type of planning will benefit you in the long run.
Budget and financials
Based on our experience, this is one of the primary things most couples are unsure, undecided, or split in opinions about. How much are you willing to spend on your home? Where is your down payment coming from? If one spouse’s parents are helping out with the down payment, do they have a say in what you buy? How will that make the other spouse feel? Who will contribute (and how much) towards the mortgage, taxes, and maintenance? You may want to consider setting up a joint account from which to transfer the deposit amount.
Though it isn’t a conversation anyone really wants to have, no one really plans to divorce either, but it happens. Typically it is better to have the dreaded “what-if” conversation now than when you’re in the middle of an emotionally-charged separation. If you are only “common law” with your partner you may want to consider having a lawyer draw up an agreement that sets out the terms of the ownership for your new home. Better safe than sorry.
Selling current properties
Some couples that buy together may own a property previous to the current relationship. This can complicate the process of listing and buying. Timing the sales and the purchase are critical to ensure that you both aren’t homeless! We have extensive knowledge in managing multiple property deals and can help you through this process as a couple.
Ready to dive in? We have an intimate understanding of the decisions and compromises that couples need to make when purchasing a home.