How to Agree on the Perfect Home With Your Spouse

Buying the home of your dreams can be a thrilling process — until you find out that you and your spouse cannot agree on anything. House hunting with someone that has different tastes or priorities can slow down the process and make every home you look at a disappointment.

Here’s how to find the perfect home for you and your spouse, even if you can’t agree on every little thing.

Make separate wish lists

You and your spouse should both write out your 10 must-haves for your new home. If you have more than 10 items, narrow it down so that you focus on the highest priorities. Let’s be real: You can live without a claw foot tub in the master bathroom, but you might be at your wit’s end if you have to deal with a small, cramped kitchen.

Once you both have your lists made, highlight any items that are matching. If you can find four to six matching items, you are off to a great start. Those should be the items you focus on. All non-matching items on your list then need to be rated as “must-have” or “nice to have, but can live without.” This will allow you to narrow down your search and save time when looking for the perfect home.

Determine the big non-negotiables

Some things are non-negotiable, such as price or neighborhood. If you know that you can only spend so much money or that you only want to buy in a certain area, it helps you both to get on the same page. I recommend sitting down and agreeing on a maximum budget before even starting the home tours.

When you are dealing with hundreds of thousands of dollars, going $20,000 over budget for your dream home may not seem like a big deal, especially when you have 30 years to pay off the debt. However, in addition to adding cost to your monthly mortgage payment, going over budget can also add tens of thousands of dollars in interest over the life of your loan. It is important to know exactly how much you will be paying each month for your mortgage, as well as an estimate of yearly property taxes. (See also: 8 Signs You’re Paying Too Much for Your Mortgage)

Find the compromising points

When you and your spouse have two conflicting must-haves on your list, talk through them. Listen to why they want a certain item and share your feelings about why you do not want the item. For example, if your spouse wants to live close to the city so the commute to work is shorter, but you don’t want to be close to the city for safety reasons, you should both present your side of the argument respectfully. Figure out if there are any other pros or cons to the situation. For example, perhaps living closer to the city also means more traffic and higher home sale prices.

Be willing to compromise on issues that aren’t that important or can be remedied. For example, if your spouse is adamant about having an extra bedroom for an office or home gym, and you couldn’t care less either way, respect that it is important to them. On the other hand, if your spouse wants a swimming pool but you are unsure because you have an infant, you may be more open to the idea if the pool comes with a secure gate.

Look at the potential, not the actual

When you look at homes, there’s a good chance that only a small percentage will be anything close to what you consider your dream home. Even if you find your dream home, there is an even bigger chance that the home will be out of your budget. The solution? Stop looking at houses as they are and start honing in on their potential.

If you or your spouse have items like “granite countertops and stainless steel appliances” or “office with built-ins” on your list, realize that these features can be added to almost any home. Gaining a Pinterest-worthy bathroom or a backyard with a deck to entertain and lush grass are also things that can easily be done for another $10,000 to $15,000. However, wish list items like a big kitchen, two-stories, nice neighborhood, or three-car garage are harder (sometimes impossible) and costlier to add after you buy a home.

It is also important to realize that many homes just need quick cosmetic changes to become desirable. You have to look past poor paint color choices, neglected yards, gross flooring options, and clutter. When my husband and I looked at the home we live in now, I was discouraged by the size of what were to be the children’s bedrooms. In pictures and in person, the rooms looked tiny because the owner had queen-sized beds in them and large dressers. It wasn’t until we moved our furniture in that we realized the rooms were bigger than most standard bedrooms.

House hunting can be exhausting, but don’t let it ruin your marriage. Be willing to talk through the process and don’t be afraid to bring a trusted, unbiased friend to help you narrow down the choices.

Written By Ashley Eneriz on 4 June 2018