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How to House Hunt as a Couple

Mark Twynham is a Mortgage Specialist for BMO Bank of Montreal, and blogger for the BMO SmartSteps for Home owners community which is now featuring tips and advice for their Great House Hunter Contest throughout September and October. Now, BMO SmartSteps for Homeowners is sharing a few house hunting tips with, outlining some considerations couples should think about when searching for a home together.

House hunting as a couple can be fun but can also be somewhat of a strain on a relationship. What I may want from a house may not be the same as my partner, so my suggestion is to have a thorough discussion about some table stakes before you start looking. Here are a few key areas to consider:

  • Finances

Debt servicing is a term used by bankers and it means measuring your gross income versus your costs of debt. Usually this is done on a monthly cash-flow basis. Over the years I have found many couples differ on what they feel they can afford and what monthly payments they are willing to burden themselves with. Discussion on this topic would be a good start for couples as it will determine their price point for buying a home.

  • Cost/Size of Home

This factor may have a close correlation to location when buying a home, but at the outset it is the primary deciding factor. Planning for the future (children, parents, etc.) is key when looking for a home today. Is this a one or two year stopover, or is it a lifelong buy? I remember being told by my manager when I was buying my first home that you should buy as though you are three years from now. What he meant is that this home purchase may cause our budget to be tight now, but to maintain a view that our income would increase and costs would level out. His idea was that you don’t want to have to buy and sell again in a short time frame if you can manage to avoid it.

  • Location

Everyone hears the three most important things about real estate are: location, location, location. Having lived in a number of places over my career, I can easily say that I always found something rewarding and unique about each place. Of course, the job and family are the principal concerns. Also, I always thought having my in-laws more than an hour drive away was a good thing!

  • Amenities

Decide on what you would use the house for and what things have to be there or can be added or changed through renovation. For my wife and I, any house we look at has to have a dog room with access to the outside for them. It may sound funny, but for us it is a must. Think about the kitchen layout, the number of bathrooms, garage and dining areas. These are usually hot topics with couples. To be on the same page with these issues will increase the likelihood you and your partner get along.

Enjoy the house hunting together by understanding each other’s preferences and your life in a new place can be richly rewarding and fulfilling. Airmiles Contest

Have a house hunting story? Send it to [email protected] and earn 100 AIR MILES® reward miles just for entering. Your story could go on to win over 10,000 more! Go here to learn more about our Great House Hunter Contest.