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House ache: what to do when you and your partner can’t agree on a home

Finger art of couple after an argument looking in different directions.

10 Mar 2017

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Choosing which home to buy is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make so it’s no surprise that house hunting has tested many a relationship over the years. The potent combination of hope, joy, disappointment, expectation and worry can put a strain on even the strongest relationships.

Some couples can fall out over how many cushions they want on a couch, never mind where they want to spend the rest of their lives. It’s a big deal. Both people are financially and emotionally invested in the process so even perfect couples can get a bit frazzled.

The biggest problem is when a couple can’t agree on a home. This may seem like the end of the world but there are a few simple steps that can get you back on track!

Agree on a price

This is obviously the first thing to do when you begin the house hunting process. Your price will be largely defined by the size of mortgage you can get. However, being approved for a €250,000 mortgage doesn’t mean that you have to spend that much on a house.

Take the emotion out of the equation and agree on what you want to spend before you start. Then stick to it. It can be hard to settle on a property if one person hasn’t really accepted the financial restrictions that they agreed to and keeps looking at places in a higher bracket.

You’re in this together so it helps if you’re both on the same page. If you do want to raise your budget, take the time to talk about it and weigh up the implications before making a decision.

Define priorities

You and your partner may love the same music, share a favourite film and enjoy the same hobbies. That doesn’t mean that you’ll both want the same thing in a house.

One of you might want a country escape, period features and wide open spaces. The other may fancy a luxury apartment in a buzzing part of town. It may seem like a massive gap to bridge but the first step is to differentiate between what you want and what you need.

Sit down and take turns to do up a list of preferences and rank your priorities in terms of importance. It may be the type of building, the proximity to work or schools, the location or even the size of the garden.

The important thing is that you get an idea of what’s most important to the other person. Try and find at least five things that you both agree on. Extend the lists if you have to! Then you can focus on finding the perfect balance.

Tell your agent what you both want

Your estate agent may not be a marriage counsellor but that doesn’t mean that they can’t help you reach a compromise. Showing a good agent a list of your priorities will arm them with the information they need to find you a great place.

So you really want to live in a cute cottage but your partner needs to live in the city centre. A good agent can check through their portfolio of properties and find something that offers a happy medium. That quirky cottage in the heart of the city could be the compromise you were looking for.

View a lot of properties

You may think that you want an attic apartment but a viewing of a few attic apartments could change your mind. Banging your head off a sloping roof every time you stray beyond the middle of the room will probably banish any romantic illusions you have about attic spaces.

Viewing a lot of properties will give you a better idea of what you want. Seeing as many properties as you can is a good way to work out what you really, really need.

Viewing a lot of different houses together also gives you a better understanding of what your partner likes or needs. You may even find that your views are more aligned than you thought.

Be realistic

Viewing a lot of places will also give you a greater sense of what’s on the market in your price range. You may want a 3-bed detached house in a trendy area but there’s no point arguing over a pipedream that you can’t afford.

There’s nothing wrong with trying to find the perfect place for you as long as you take a realistic approach. If you bring unrealistic expectations to the table, it’s only going to cause tension between you and your partner. Look at what’s on the market and use it as a way to gauge what is and isn’t possible for you.

Be prepared to step back

House hunting can be stressful. All those viewings, disappointment if you lose out on a place, frustration at what’s on offer – it can all add up. It’s even worse if you’re also arguing over what you want.

If you’re having trouble agreeing or find that the search is putting a strain on your relationship, it’s a good idea to take a two-week break from the process. This gives you a chance to rebuild any bridges and give yourselves a better headspace for future discussions.

Make sure that you use the time to avoid any talk about houses or house hunting activities. It may seem extreme but taking a step back can diffuse a tense situation and give you a fresh perspective on the process.

Are you thinking of buying your own home?

So you’ve agreed on what you want in a home and now you want to know what you need to do to get a mortgage. The first step is to call into your local EBS office for a chat with one of our friendly mortgage advisors.

Get the ball rolling with our First Time Buyer guide. You can also use our mortgage calculator to find out how much you may be able to borrow, or book a mortgage meeting to suit you with one of our mortgage experts.

Don’t forget to visit our Facebook page for the latest home inspiration, news and great competitions.

The content of this blog is expressed in broad terms and is limited to general information purposes only. Readers should always seek professional advice to address issues arising in specific contexts and not seek to rely on the information in this blog which does not constitute any form of advice or recommendation by EBS d.a.c.

EBS d.a.c. neither accepts nor assumes any responsibility in relation to the contents of this blog and excludes all warranties, undertakings and representations (either express or implied) to the fullest extent permitted under applicable law.

EBS d.a.c. is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

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