Whether you're newly married, just engaged or in a serious relationship without tying the knot, the question of home ownership may be top of mind for you and your partner. Most couples just starting out tend to be swayed by the excitement of their future abode together. And rightly so. Buying a home together is exciting! It is also a major life event. Do not avoid the difficult conversations that will help define your future and your financial stability.
Here are the top five conversations you should have:
Are we prepared financially, and emotionally to transition to the homeownership responsibility?
You should have a full understanding of your savings, debt and credit scores. If you're ready to talk to a lender, this is a great opportunity to get honest with each other as everything will be laid out in black and white during the application process. For some couples struggling to save for a down payment, foregoing wedding costs and taking that cash to put toward a home can be a smart decision.
Are we on the same page about whether this is a stepping stone or a long-term forever home?
Maybe you want more bedrooms because you envision having a large family in the future, but your partner wants to start with a smaller footprint. It's better to know these things up front. This piece also connects to your financial stability as you think about closing costs, property taxes, insurance and future renovations and maintenance of the home.
Do we agree upon our team of broker/lender professionals necessary for our greatest chance of success?
Hiring a professional real estate broker and lender may be your most important decision. Some couples don't realize they have a wide breadth of choice in this area. Don't feel pressured to use a friend, or a family member, or even someone that came highly recommended by your partner. Shop around, interview brokers and lenders together—this is a business decision that can impact your credit and financial future.
Have we agreed upon our respective wish lists for the property in mind?
Make sure your visions of home ownership are on the same page and discuss your respective lists in advance, whether on paper or pillow talk. Make sure you communicate your wishes and hopes, and most importantly your non-negotiables in advance.
Have we talked out and agreed in advance on where we might compromise?
This step is all about communication. As you write down your wish list, you'll be surprised how your items might change as you learn more about your partner's wants and needs. A great way to start this conversation is with a question, "With what on this list are you willing to compromise over in order to make us both happy, given our personal needs, wishes and financial capacity?"
At the end of the day, this is a thrilling time of life and with a few honest conversations, you'll be in a good position to buy a home with your partner. And in a changing market, don't forget that there is always opportunity. With hard work and your trusted real estate broker, you have a chance to build equity together, a step that could benefit you both for the rest of your life.