Purchasing real estate as a couple has its own quirks because each person has different feelings and beliefs surrounding money. So when it comes time to for a couple to make one of the biggest financial decisions in their lives, it can be challenging to know how to come together to make that decision together. And believe us when we say, that's a decision that you should make together
. Our team's mission is to empower our clients to make better real estate decisions to help them build wealth and community in their lives. While we are in no way marriage or couple therapists, our team is here to help make this milestone one of strength and growth.
Before you get pre-approved or start looking at houses, there are important discussions we recommend you tackle together. To begin, both you and your partner may want to take the time to answer each question individually in writing separate from each other's input. Or you might want to jump right in together--like we said, we're not therapists, we're here to help you set up expectations and make sure you both are prepared to be engaged with the home buying process. No one should be left out of the loop at any stage. When you are both ready, come together with open minds and discuss the questions and your answers together. Conversation Starters:
How to do your part and make better real estate decisions as a couple:
- Do you currently talk about financial matters (whether or not they are positive or challenging) together? Share examples to make sure neither of you are assuming that this happens. Discuss how you both came to a final decision in each of those examples. Is that how you want to handle making decisions through the home buying process?
- Do either of you feel uncomfortable for any reason talking about money with each other? How about with strangers (such as lenders, and your real estate agent)? If there are hang-ups, discuss how you as a couple are going to help each other talk about finances through this process. Believe it or not, it may help to talk about your parents' experience with money and finances. It's been noted by multiple sources, that our own opinions and feelings toward money stem from our upbringing.
- How do you currently make financial decisions surrounding large purchases or expenses? Is one of you the go-to? Do you divide up the decision making? Or do you make the majority of decisions together? While tasks can be divided up, your home purchase should be decided together. Going through a series of "What if" questions specific to your concerns as a couple, can help prepare you for situations ahead.
- Discuss how you can help each other be more engaged in the process and make a promise to each other in writing that you will do your part to communicate, discuss, and ask questions throughout this process.
- When considering different neighborhoods, especially areas that may be new to you, ask us for a list of activities and restaurants in the area so that you can plan a visit to get to know the community. It's homework we give to quite a few of our clients and you can make a date out of it!
- Reduce the risk of miscommunication and blame by making sure both of you are on important calls and in meetings with your real estate team (your real estate agent, lender, escrow team, etc.). Communicating with your lender and real estate agent about the best times to schedule calls and meetings, will also help reduce stress and lost time.
- Visit homes together--lots of homes. Viewing several homes together and making time and space to discuss each other's feedback openly, helps build confidence in your ability to choose the right home for your family.
- Keep a running tally of out-of-pocket expenses through this process. Your REALTOR can give you a list of typical costs. Refer and update this list to reflect your specific situation. This helps set up your expectations and understand the cost of doing business.
- Read all your emails--BOTH of you. Do not rely on each other for a synopsis of correspondence and communications. Instead, hold each other accountable to make sure both of you are on the same page and understand the information provided.
- Get comfortable with group text messages and conference calls with your agent. To make sure you fully understand the responsibility of homeownership, your agent will need you both to make time to process the information they send you in a timely manner. Some information may seem redundant, but it is still necessary for you to confirm when you understand the information you are provided and ask questions when you don't. Keep in mind, much of what is communicated to you is time sensitive.
- Ask for clarification when you are confused even if your partner says they understand.
- Are you or your spouse active duty in the military? Make sure you have a current Power of Attorney in the event of deployment or training leave. Connect with your Legal Assistance Office on your military installation. Note that the partner that remains will still need your support and input on the decisions to be made during this process.
These activities may not feel comfortable or needed at first, but we highly recommend checking in with each other as you begin the conversation of buying a home together. Whether you're married or not, both of you will be responsible for this decision as well as many others in the future relating to your home.
In the end, we want you to be excited about the home you choose. If you have any questions regarding this post or would like additional assistance in starting your home buying conversation, contact us today.