If there's one thing that either makes you or breaks you as a couple it's a HUGE decision and an exhausting process...that's right I'm talking about shopping for a new home. When we shopped for our new house it was full of all sorts of ups and downs. Whether you are just dating, engaged, or already married here's some advice to survive the process of looking for a house.
|1| Know your Finances and What You Can BOTH AffordBefore you even start to look, make sure you both sit down and talk about how much you both make, how much you both have saved, and how much money you have to put towards a mortgage each month. If one of you doesn't speak up or be honest - you will find yourself very stressed out when shopping for a house if your partner loves a house but it's one you can't afford. You need to be open and honest. Buying a house is a HUGE thing in life and it's nothing to hold back about. If you can only pay XX amount per month, tell your partner. Get pre-approved so you can see what you can afford and what your monthly payments would look like AFTER taxes are added in. It's also important to know your credit scores.
 Combine & Edit Your List of Wants & NeedsYou may want a ranch house but your partner wants a townhouse. Both of you should make a list of wants and a list of needs then sit down together and compare. Use your lists to make a combined list and then edit it down. Remember - Needs are more important than wants, but wants can come disguised as needs. Make sure you highlight the absolute must have items. That way if you find a house and it is missing a few of your needs you can see if they are things you can sacrifice or not.
And if you both can't agree on certain things that's okay. You aren't building a house from scratch (well, if you are - Good luck). So it's very likely that you will find houses that have a little bit of both of your needs mixed in. Once you're actually in a house looking around it's easier to decide if the 3 car garage is actually a need, or if you can settle without it.
|3| Communicate Communicate COMMUNICATE!There will be times you want to flip out and scream at your partner. It's absolutely crucial to make sure you both communicate with each other the entire time. Don't be afraid to ask the realtor to step out of the room so you can both discuss your thoughts on a house you're touring. Also, don't expect your partner to be a mind reader. If you aren't happy with something - say it!
|4| Make Sure One of You Takes the LeadWhile it's great to split responsibilities 50/50, if one of you can take the lead and keep track of all the paperwork, deadlines, etc. that will make a world of a difference. Sometimes if 2 people try to do the same task, it just becomes confusing or frustrating. One of you can be the main point of contact with your realtor as well.
|5| Take BreaksIf you end up looking at several houses and don't like any of them but you are both stressed and feeling pressure, just stop and take a deep breathe and take a break from house shopping. It's okay to stop looking for a couple of weeks while waiting for new homes to come up on the market.
What have you found to be most challenging when shopping for a new home as a couple?