The Right Time For Buyers To Agree

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 09 March 2021 00:00

During home buying, when is the right time for couples to agree?

Agreeing at the time of the offer is important, but if that’s the first time, it may be the wrong time.

Strategically, buyer couples should agree on their personal buying strategy—what they must and want to accomplish—before they begin viewing property.

• Ideally, agreement is essential even before they seriously search virtually and begin discarding and eliminating possible online listings. During a search, disagreement about priorities and what’s a “must-have” is counterproductive. Viable choices and valuable possibilities may be discarded for all the wrong reasons, causing significant lost opportunity.

• While actually viewing a property, pitched battles over decor or kitchen size are non-productive. If one partner vetoes two-storey houses or modern decor, either of which are must-haves for the other partner, both may be losers during the home search because of contentious distraction over what, post-move-in, may be manageable issues.

The Right Time Is Now!

Resolve clashing interests or dramatic style differences BEFORE you set out to buy. This guarantees underlying disagreement will not overshadow genuine value or shut you out of what would sensibly be your dream property.

Throughout the home search process...

1. Arguing over things that can be changed is distracting

You love the house, but your partner hates the kitchen cupboards or the lack of a fireplace and vetoes that house. Be prepared in advance by pricing the cost of adding your partner’s missing must-have features, like white cupboards or a fireplace, to an otherwise-desirable property. Now you’re not only shopping for homes with those desired features, but expanding your value search because you know the estimated cost of adding missing cosmetic must-haves.

2. Fighting over style is a waste of time

Resolve style issues based on professional knowledge that is beyond your experience. A session with an interior designer, virtual or otherwise, will help you identify which styles can suit both of you. You’ll both learn how to add elements of one style to another for a unique and stunning transition. Watch a few makeover shows and you’ll quickly discover how clever makeover artists like the Property Brothers combine seemingly disparate styles like modern and rustic, classic and ultra-minimalist. Once you move in, an interior design consult, real or virtual, makes the decor transition easy.

3. Disagreeing over building type is exhausting

Practicality is essential when it comes to building type. When accessibility is an issue, residential elevators are increasingly an affordable solution for two-storey buildings.

If one partner’s preferred building type is consistently less expensive, the other partner may need to reevaluate their position by exploring the customizations an affordable renovation could achieve. 

When one partner favors a building type which is rare in the chosen area—ranches or backsplits where two-storey homes reign—choice will be reduced and, therefore, costs may increase. The couple can adapt or agree that it’s time to consider a different neighborhood.

Resolve the type issue before the search begins so that each property can be assessed for its individual merits and inherent costs. What features could be added or modified in the less preferred style to make it acceptable to the other partner? Contractors can provide suggestions and cost estimates.

4. Disputing location advantages is fruitless

When one partner insists on being near work, school, a relative, or something they value, the couple should spend time biking or driving under a range of traffic conditions to uncover a practical travel time and, therefore, where the new home must be. Then, talk to a local real estate professional to learn the feasibility of a buy within that allowable zone and what could be gained by purchasing just outside that travel area. 

Exploring cost vs benefit and travel frequency will help clarify issues. Verify that the deciding factor will not change after you move in. Will that job or school stay non-virtual? Is the relative hopeful of a move? Would a transportation up-grade to a new vehicle make the partner happier about an even longer drive time? Negotiate the problem into manageability.

5. Insisting on short-term thinking defeats your future

Home buying involves going beyond short-term gratification to meet near-future and future needs. Analyze your family’s upcoming and future needs to decide on location factors which override any changeable style-based features you disagree on.

For instance, since so many jobs went virtual, schools are the must-have location drivers. Yes, they have virtual elements too, but the key factor is that kids want to be near their classmates for after-school playtime.

Case Study: Shifting Priorities

A 2-job couple with a three- and a four-year-old were hung up on different priorities when they decided to move from a rural community into an urban area. One was stuck on budget and the other on home size. After their real estate professional began their search consultation with a virtual neighborhood-by-neighborhood overview, they discovered some surprises:

  • • Areas with great schools were often off-the-table because the preferred schools were not taking new students or home prices were very high.
    • Areas that the couple could afford on their chosen budget, did not have their preferred type of school.

The couple discovered that their search had devolved into first finding the right school and then settling on an acceptable property nearby.

Q: Were they crazy to fixate on schools when their children are preschoolers?

A: No. Time speeds up when you have children. Suddenly, the little ones are school aged, and then there’s no time to search for a great school and a new house. Head off inevitable tough choices by agreeing to shop for near-future needs now.

Start building your personal buying strategy by agreeing on what’s a “definite no.”

Discussing what to definitely avoid will help you both realize that, short of location, there is not much that can’t be changed or at least modified once you move in. 

Develop an agreed-on must-have list based on modified wants and compromises, so you are both clear what your priorities are when viewing, online and off. This will keep you on track and free you both up to be super observant of staging illusions, cosmetic cover-ups, camouflaged future projects, and impactful near-by construction projects.

TIPS:  Heart-felt conversations generate your personal buying strategy:

1. Listen more than you speak.
2. Ask your partner what solutions they feel are acceptable before you launch into a list of “fix it” suggestions.
3. Allow time to consider possible solutions rather than pushing for immediate compromise.
4. An experienced real estate professional is not a marriage counselor. However, their experience with the types of compromises that have worked for other couples may keep your personal buying strategy on track.

Enjoy your home search together!

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PJ Wade —       Decisions & Communities

Futurist and Achievement Strategist PJ WADE is “The Catalyst”—intent on Challenging The Best to Become Even Better. A dynamic problem solver and author of 8 books and more than 2800 published articles, PJ concentrates on the knowledge, insight, communication prowess, and special decision-making skills essential for professionals and their clients who are determined to thrive in the 21st-Century vortex of change.

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Onward & Upward—The directions that really matter! Reach PJ at and visit her What's Your Point? Blog. Keep up-to-date with PJ's popular column  Decisions & Communities

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