Don't lose your spouse trying to find your dream house

Private Property South Africa
Taryn Isaac

How do you find the perfect home if you and your partner both envision different things? As with most things in a relationship, compromise is key.

If you are buying a home with your significant other, agreeing on what you are looking for can be a challenge.

You may love the idea of a beachside home, while your spouse may relish the thought of purchasing a property inland. These types of disagreements can create roadblocks on your way to arriving at the perfect home.

Compromise, however, is essential and with the right steps you and your partner can embark on a successful journey to finding your dream home. Here’s how:

couple sitting on a couch, arms crossed with upset expressions on their faces

Compile separate must-have lists:

Having a clear indication of what you and your spouse have in common is the first step towards trying to find a home that is suitable for the both of you.

But, before you hash it out at the dinner table, start by compiling a list of your dream home requirements and have your partner do the same separately.

Begin by jotting down what you want in a home, in terms of what it should look like, where it should be and what features it should have. If you are unsure of what it is you are looking for in a home, why not visit an online property portal like Private Property to get a taste of what is currently on the market?

It is also important for you to consider your needs for the future and not only focus on your present requirements.

Finding a home that will sustain your lifestyle later in life is crucial unless you are wanting to move every few years.

Once you’ve jotted down your thoughts, compare both the lists with your partner to identify any common ground.

Crafting these lists will help you to identify the home features that are of most importance to you and your spouse and will serve as the foundation to your home-buying discussion.

Get your priorities straight:

It is essential for you and your partner to identify and discuss which of your listed requirements are of the utmost priority to you both.

For example, if you are a couple who has many pet dogs, then you may consider a fenced-in backyard as one of the essentials on your list of priorities.

If your spouse works from home, then a property that has a study area or an office space may be another requirement you may consider a priority.

Discussing your priorities will enable you to assess which of the “must haves” on your list you are willing to be most flexible on and if any are set in stone.

For example, if one of your non-negotiables is a walk-in master closet, this doesn’t necessarily mean you should disregard every home on the market that doesn’t include one.

Chances are you may be able to find a home that’s within your budget and has the extra space to extend into a master closet.

It’s important to keep an open mind and not let your list of requirements prevent you from seeing the bigger picture.

Consider focusing more attention on aspects that can’t easily be changed, like a property’s size or the available amenities and schools nearby.

Build a budget:

Agreeing on a budget can be difficult as most couples often don’t see eye to eye on how much money should be spent on purchasing a home.

Money issues can often cause a relationship to breakdown, which is why it is advisable for you and your partner to be upfront and settle on an agreed upon budget from the onset.

This can be done by taking a closer look at your spending habits and drawing up a joint budgeting plan.

To determine how much you will be able to spend on buying a home, it is essential for you and your partner to track your financial “ins and outs” during a given month.

Start by calculating your combined monthly income, followed by subtracting the monthly expenses you both share.

In your list of expenses be sure to include any financial goals you both may share, as well as any fixed monthly expenses, variable expenses, monthly savings, monthly debt payments and daily individual needs and wants.

This information will help to determine the amount of money you have remaining each month and will give you an indication of which homes for sale are affordable and within your price range.

It is also important for you and your partner to make room in your budget for additional homeowner expenses like, monthly home utility fees, maintenance and repair costs, as well as furniture and décor.

Couple sitting at a table calculating their finances / home buying budget plan

Remove emotion from your budget:

During the house-hunting process, the chances of you falling in love with a property or two are inevitable, but it is essential for you to not let your emotions override your ability to think clearly.

Many couples fall in love with a home because of its beautiful garden or well-situated neighbourhood. In doing so, their emotions get the better of them, cloud their judgement and affect their ability to make good financial decisions.

“Keeping up with the Jones’s” can get you into deep trouble, especially if you choose to purchase a home that is out of your affordability range.

As tough as it may be to forget about the house with the extravagant kitchen or the fancy lapa, it is vital that you axe any home that doesn’t fall within your price range.

Keep in mind that your monthly bond repayments should ideally be no more than 25% of your take-home pay.

Let your realtor be your mediator:

If you’re having difficulty communicating, then consider having a professional real estate agent listen to your housing disputes and help bridge the gap between you and your partner.

A professional estate agent will not only be able to mediate the negotiation process, but with their intimate knowledge and experience in the field, an agent will be able to provide you and your spouse with sound and unbiased advice.

Having a third-party present can help to make the negotiating process more efficient and will ensure that both you and your partner’s opinions are taken into consideration and heard.

Home buying couple sitting with a real estate agent at a table

Get real and start compromising:

Ensuring you are on the same page as your partner is crucial in making sure you don’t end up purchasing the wrong property.

The reality of house-hunting is that you are highly unlikely to find a property that ticks off every single feature on your list, unless you have a unlimited budget or are choosing to build a home.

The trick to finding the right home for your family is being able to identify which requirements are an absolute must, and being able to compromise on the ones which are negotiable.

Remember that comprise works both ways, so before you ask your partner to give up one of their requirements, be sure to also bring something to the table which you are willing to give up.

Doing so will ensure a sense of fairness in your discussion and will strike the right balance, which is bound to leave you both happy and that much closer to compromising and finding your dream home.

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