Buying your first home is the stuff of dreams - but it can also be stressful. Think of the negotiations you'll have to have with the broker. Think of the renovations you'll have to do... or skip, if the budget is lacking. Think of the paint on the walls: chantilly lace, or eggshell?
As Valentine's Day looms, here are seven tips to successfully navigate the purchase of a home as a couple - to read with your partner, ideally...
1. Figure out the essentials
Make a list of all the elements you both agree on for your home purchase - and that doesn't include the price. Do you, for example, want to live in an established neighborhood rather than a new development? Do you want to buy new? Do you need three bedrooms or two bathrooms?
2. Avoid space-based conflicts
Seems obvious? Not necessarily. For example, will be need a closed-off office if the missus is working from home? What if the mister needs a garage? Will we need to install a second sink if someone wants to take up painting? What if one of you wants to install their elliptical in the middle of the living room? Know what you want and figure out what the other wants.
3. Talk about money
Money is an important source of conflict. Certainly, you've both agreed on the down payment and the mortgage payments, but what about the next step? How will you manage expenses and unplanned situations?
Unless you've got bottomless pockets, you'll need to make some compromises. And if that means forgetting about the holiday week that has been bringing you together for the last six years, things could get frustrating.
4. Consider delegating the tasks of housework
By delegating this step, you'll quite literally be buying peace. Along with finance, housework is one of the most common sources of conflict in a couple. If both of you are messy, move to the next point. But if you're parents, one of you should set out to find a reliable claning service or someone to come and clean the over, scrub the sinks and run the vacuum clean once in a while. Just keep in mind the inevitable stomach bug that might hit your youngest right when work gets really busy...
5. Keep the interior decoration in mind
Simply picking the window dressing can be an incredible source of friction in a couple. Privacy, blocking the sun, thermal insulation, decor and even noise reduction: its uses vary wildly based on desire and available budget. The missus gets an estimate to the tune of $7,500 and brings it up over supper. A nice meal in the new dining room suddenly becomes a source of conflict: "What, $7,500 to decorate twelve windows?!" Discuss it beforehand, lest the bills pile up and darken your new source of joy.
6. Discuss the landscaping
Before going to see the notary, make sure you both agree on what you expect from the landscaping of your new property. Except for one infamous case in Laval where the promoter had simply failed to plan for ANY green space, every home comes with a piece of land. Who will mow the lawn? In fact, do you even WANT a lawn?
The current green trends is to replace a lawn with perennials that require less water and care. Will you plant a few trees? A hedge? Will you build a patio... one that will inevitably require maintenance afterwards? Don't forget that, if you're purchasing a condo, the condo board is probably hiring someone to do the landscaping.
7. Go through your belongings... before the big move
The objective is efficiency. Make a pile to give a way, a pile to throw out and a pile to go through later. This will mean less boxes to move and you'll save on moving costs. More important, this process will help you avoid piling up boxes to "open later" in the basement of your new home. Boxes that, let's admit it, are more likely to gather dust for years to come.