Couples put strain on their relationships for a variety of reasons, but the most common sources of strife tend to center on money. Buying a home together is a big, exciting step for many couples, but it does put a lot of money on the line, both for now and for the future. It’s understandable that home buying has the potential to put anyone’s relationship—no matter how strong—in potential jeopardy. Here are some home-buying tips for couples.


Get on the same page about your wants and needs


The above could be good advice for any part of a relationship, but it’s especially important when it comes to home buying. Suzy, for instance, may want an older house in an older neighborhood. Sam may have always dreamed of living in a brand-new house in the country. Suzy may prioritize safely in her neighborhood, while Sam may prioritize proximity to work. As a couple, you must talk honestly about what you want in a house—from how many floors, how large, the backyard situation, etc. Until you come to some sort of compromise, you shouldn’t even begin to look for homes. 


Find your optimal budget and then shoot lower


Purchasing a home without doing a thorough audit of both of your incomes, debt, and other financial obligations is crazy (for more on debt-to-income ratios and affordability calculations, check here). Figure out what you can afford, and then look for homes that price a little lower than that. Give yourself some wiggle room.  If you go into the home-shopping process with a strict budget in mind, it can help you avoid arguments and force you to make logical, non-emotional decisions.


Also make sure you discuss the payment load. Who is going to pay for what? Are you going to split things 50-50? 70-30? As says, you can’t plan for things with a hug and a kiss. Spell it out. Put it in writing if you must.


Don’t make everything about house hunting


Looking for a home can quickly monopolize your entire life. It can consume every moment of free time you have—searching online, talking finances, going to open houses, etc. It’s fun most of the time, but it can wear on you. You must not let it get out of hand. You will find the perfect house. It doesn’t have to happen in a couple of weeks. 


Make sure you take a break from looking for a home to focus on your relationship. Have fun outside the realm of house hunting. Focus on being healthy together. Eat right and exercise together. Take a short vacation. Anything you can do to make your relationship a priority will help you come out the other side of this stressful experience stronger and happier. 


If unmarried, decide on how you take title


Once you’ve found a home, you’re going to have to figure out how to take title. This is easy if you’re married, but if you’re an unmarried couple, this can be confusing. There’s sole ownership, joint tenancy, or tenancy in common, all of which have their benefits and challenges. Yes, this means having a healthy talk about the future. As a loving, committed couple, you surely aren’t thinking about breaking up anytime soon, but having the talk will actually help you to de-stress.


In the end, remember to have fun. Yes, it’s a big commitment. Yes, you’re throwing around a lot of money. And yes, you will be forced to make decisions about your future as a couple. But this is one of those life events that you don’t get to experience that often. Take a step back, realize you’re in this together, and go from there. 


Photo by Kristina Litvjak on Unsplash