Many couples dream of buying a home together. For you and your partner, purchasing a house is a thrilling and fulfilling milestone. Together, you’ll experience the joys and stressors of owning a home. While home ownership is certainly laden with cozy nesting and memories, it can also drum up friction around repairs, mortgages, and upkeep or design issues.
Buying a home can be a long process with some unforeseen bumps in the road. So, it’s essential that all couples approach their first or forever home purchase with clear communication and wide eyes. Buying a house is part of your partnership as a couple, and a significant milestone that will impact your relationship for years to come.
We rounded up some essential questions to ask with guidance from realtors, home design experts, newlyweds, couples counselors, and long-time married partners to get the nitty gritty on what to discuss before visiting open houses. Here are seven important questions to ask each other before looking for your dream home.
1. What does your ultimate dream home look like inside and out?
It’s important to break the ice with your significant other with excitement, playfulness, and open-ended questions that lead to deeper conversations. Plus, this key question can provide big insights on your spouse’s point of view on design, style, self-care, and other expectations around life at home.
Follow up with these engaging and thought-provoking questions:
- Why do you want to own a home?
- What does a home feel like to you?
- What does being a homeowner mean to you?
2. What is our budget? Is it negotiable?
One of the biggest elements for home purchasing is finances. In addition to your current financial responsibilities as a couple, owning a house will yield more bills and budgeting. It’s essential to map out your current income, assets, savings, and other financial streams that can contribute to your budget. It’s also important to note any debt you might need to pay before buying a home, what your credit scores are, or other ways you and your significant other can supplement your income to prepare for a down payment or mortgage.
Don’t forget to ask these financially savvy questions:
- How much savings do we need before putting in an offer?
- How much debt do we have? Does this include credit cards and student loans?
- How much do we need to save?
3. Are we looking for a starter house or a forever home?
Sure, an open concept industrial loft with city views is cool right now. But if you’re planning on adding a baby or pets into your family, that loft seems a lot less private without bedroom walls. Or, maybe you’re not starting a family at all. Perhaps, you’re the couple that lives to renovate and thrives on redesigning and this will be your first home of many. Maybe the idea of moving more than once makes your partner anxious. Whatever the case may be, dig deep into your spouse’s expectations in this process: Is this home intended to last a lifetime or the next few years? These answers can influence what home you’ll purchase, financial decisions, and locations you’ll consider.
- How long do we want to live in this potential home?
- How far from work are we willing to live?
- Do we want to start a family in the future? Or, will we be adding to our family?
4. What are three needs you have in a home? What are three wants?
It’s paramount to establish what you need and what you want in your home. How many bedrooms? A large kitchen? A pool? Do you need to be close to downtown? Don’t be afraid to get down to the nitty gritty details. Does the master bedroom need an en-suite bathroom? Is a living room with a fireplace essential? Pinpoint wants and needs to find a home that it totally-you and your partner.
Fine-tune your dream home with these questions:
- Are there specific neighborhoods we want to live in?
- What’s one thing you’re willing to compromise on for a home? What’s one thing you won’t?
- Do we want to live closer to our friends?
5. Turn-keys versus fixer-uppers. What’s your stance on each?
Before you start looking at homes, ask your partner on his or her stance on renovations. Some people are ready to dive all-in into gut renovations, whereas others would prefer light changes and a few coats of paint. You might be game to put new wallpaper in a guest bedroom, but your significant other might feel otherwise. Renovations can also eat into your financial budget, so it’s important to keep that front of mind as well.
- How much renovation is too much? Do we have the budget?
- Would you be willing to hire a contract for potential renovations? Or should we do it ourselves?
- Would you rather put more money into a down payment or future changes?
6. What’s one thing about home ownership you are not looking forward to?
Is there something that scares you about owning a house? Whether it’s paying a mortgage or endless repairs and renovations, it’s best to clear the air. If it’s financial worries, you can both tackle that fear with by setting aside an emergency savings fund, being clear about a budget, and meeting with a financial advisor. If it’s something else like renovations, design, commute or location, open the door way to clear communication.
- Let’s say we find out dream home. What’s one thing that would make you back out of buying it?
7. What is your timeline for finding the right home for us?
Timing is everything. Between jobs, friends, family, and our personal lives, time is an integral part of the home buying process. Are you expecting to find a home quickly or do you both envision it as a long process? Time and budgets often go hand-in-hand, you both might to sort out your finances for hidden costs (repairs, closing, etc) alongside saving for a down payment or working on an emergency savings fund. Part of the home buying process might have pauses and that’s okay, too. This is a time to enrich and deepen your marriage with this next milestone step in life and time is a part of that achievement.
Get the timing right:
- Do you think it will take a year or less to find our dream house?
- Is it okay to pause for weeks or months at a time?
- Do we have to take a break from house hunting for work, travel, or a life event in the foreseeable future?