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Relationships & Real Estate

Bethany’s Buzz Issue 2









By: Bethany Acker, REALTOR

So You’re Buying a House. Bring On the Arguments.

Home Buying. Breaking and Rebuilding Hearts Since Inception.

You want the country. Your spouse wants the city. You want a decked out kitchen. Your kids want a decked out rec room.  All of you want a great deal on your dream home. But how do multiple people with different opinions of a dream home find that one great house to call home?

Here are 3 common arguments that happen for home buyers. Be OK with them. Play nice. Listen well. And take note of the advice from folks who have been there, done that, and lived to tell about it.

Argument #1

Can we really afford to buy right now?

Just because the pre-approving lender says that you CAN borrow the money, it doesn’t mean that you SHOULD.

Do you try to qualify for 100% financing or can you start eating rice and beans for the next 6 months to save up 10-20% of a down payment? How much are each of you willing to sacrifice to have a lower monthly payment? How can the “free spenders” of the group make adjustments until a goal is met? Are they willing to do that yet?

Then there’s your projected life plan. Are you thinking about changing jobs or going back to school or having a baby or adopting or becoming self-employed? If plans for a major life change involve large financial alterations, consider how this will affect your ability to pay your house payment and related expenses. What would you need to do in advance to prepare for the change?

Seasoned Home Buyers Advice

To know if you should proceed with buying a home discuss at length your financial situation. If you have differing opinions about buying now vs later, an argument may ensue. Remember-play nice. Listen well. Take a few days to consider the other person’s thoughts. Come together to talk about the issue again. Seek advice from a financial advisor. Talk some more. If neither person has budged on their opinion of whether or not you can really afford to buy at the moment-it is recommended that you wait to buy. If you have reached an agreement for home buying, congratulations! You’ve survived and are now ready for the next argument.

Argument #2

What type of house do we buy within our price range?  

You may have unrealistic expectations.

Disagreements come when you have different opinions about what are the most important features in a home. Your partner may want a “fixer upper” and you may want a new house. Your spouse may want to be in a specific suburb within a certain school district. But if you live there, the homeowners association won’t allow you to put your dwarf goats and free range chickens in the backyard.

If you purchase a bigger home farther outside of town that is cheaper, how much extra driving time has to happen for everyone? Is it worth it? One of you may not think so.

Unrealized and unverbalized opinions of the perfect house start coming up. You may be shocked to find out that the person who you thought you knew so well, suddenly becomes a stranger. It can leave you questioning whether or not you’ll ever come to an agreement.


Seasoned Home Buyers Advice

Get a pre-approval letter from a lender to determine how much you can spend on a house. Use this figure as one of your home features. Each person sit down alone and make a list of 5-7 home features that you want, numerically prioritized highest to lowest. Come together and compare. Find the 3 most similar features and start there in your home search. Talk with a Real Estate Agent to see what he or she can tell you about housing market trends for that price and those features. Avoid having all the features based on location, price, AND size. For example, if you have to buy in a specific location, consider being flexible on the size or amenities of the home. Or if you have to buy in a specific price range, be flexible on the location or age of the house. It’s ok to be picky. But the more picky you are, the longer it takes to get moved. If you start to see that your relationship is going sour and one of you has started sleeping on the couch with the cat, remember: Play nice. Listen well. If it’s getting too intense, take a break and be ok with waiting to buy.

Argument #3

How far should we go with negotiations?   

So you finally found the house. You’ve made a reasonable offer but it was countered with something higher than what you were hoping to go. It’s your dream house in the perfect location with features everyone can agree on. You’ve been searching for several months and this is the first home in your price range that has suited your needs. But can you risk the larger payment? This is the highest level of intensity in the home buying process. A good real estate agent will help you work through this but it’s ultimately up to you in deciding how much you can negotiate. Grit your teeth and talk it out because a decision will have to be made.

Seasoned Home Buyers Advice

There’s nothing worse than losing a great house because you don’t know if you can afford a new washer and dryer since the seller is taking theirs. Know your financial range for negotiations. Don’t trade your financial security for a house that is outside of your budget. If you are house poor and will be unable to pay for repairs within the first few years (and they WILL happen), walk away from the deal. One rule of thumb is to keep your total house payment within â…“ to ½ of your monthly take home pay. It can be difficult to end up saying no to a great house. But staying within your financial means will keep you from having to choose between putting food on the table and paying your light bill. It can mean the difference between holding hands in the living room on the couch and heated discussions because you aren’t sure how you are going to be able to afford to sign your son up for baseball this season. Financial freedom breathes life.


If you play fair and listen well, there’s no need to fear the inevitable disagreements that will come. If you choose to work through the disagreements and are patient, your relationship will stretch to a stronger level. If you do the next best right thing, the next best right thing will happen. And in home-buying, the next best right thing is finding a place where you and yours are unstressed, relaxed and happy!

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