There are several things that a couple will pursue together throughout their life that are meant to bring them closer together, but that the process of pursuing could actually drive them apart. Planning a wedding is a big one. Marriage is certainly meant to solidify a union, but just getting to that point of walking down the aisle can cause so many arguments that it breaks couples up. Arguing about choosing the geographical location based on where each person’s family lives or budgeting issues can make a couple just not want to get married at all. Having children is another big one—having kids is even a top cause of divorce. Naturally, couples have kids thinking it will bring them closer together and then that major life change and all of the stress that comes with it can break them up. Buying property together is another big one. You do this to solidify your future together, but the process of looking for and buying a home can cause so much strife between a couple that it drives them apart. Here’s a look at how that happens, so you can stop it from happening to you.
Credit scores and interest rates
You may sit down to fill out a loan application and hear back from the lender that your partner’s credit score is driving up your interest rate. So now what? Should your partner pay a little more every month, since it’s his actions that have increased those monthly payments? That’s not a comfortable conversation.
Choosing a neighborhood
If you both work at opposite ends of the city, then you have to choose: do you buy a home near his work? Near yours? Somewhere in the middle? If you live in a city with major traffic then you know that this is a serious issue. Pushing to live near your work could mean putting a one-hour (or more) commute on your partner every day. And that won’t leave him in the greatest mood.
The school district thing
So now you’re looking at a place that you’ll be stuck with—for better or for worse—for possibly 30 years if you’re going with a standard mortgage. Did you want to have kids during that time? If so, you need to find a place that’s in a good school district. You may not have even talked about whether or not you wanted to have kids until now. And you may find you have different feelings on the matter.
You can have very different opinions on what your monthly maximum payment should be. One can argue that it’s okay if the payments are high, because it’s an investment in yourselves—in your future. The other can argue she absolutely doesn’t want to feel weighed down by this payment every month, and living on a super-tight budget. Meanwhile, the former individual can feel the latter’s feelings are putting a major strain on their buying options.
Every single conversation with a realtor can feel so fragile. You feel like saying just one word right (or wrong) could accidentally cost you 10 or 15 thousand dollars in the price. You can scrutinize the words of your partner to the realtor, as he can scrutinize yours, and you can both feel the other made mistakes that cost you both, big time. There is a lot of stress around conversations about that much money.
Employment and qualification
So you started your own business last year. It was an exciting time for you both. But now, your lender is telling you that, if you are freelance or own your own business, you need to show at least two years of profitable tax returns to even be considered for a loan. You don’t have that…So now, it could be just your partner on this loan, and that cuts the purchase price you can afford in half.
That’s a lot on one person
If just one person is taking on the mortgage, even though the other will make half the payments each month, that’s still a lot to ask of someone. If just one of you will be on the loan, that means just one of you, in the eyes of the lender, is on the hook for these payments, should anything go wrong—like him or you losing your job. As far as the paperwork is concerned, it’s just the person on that mortgage who needs to pay up. That’s a lot of stress for one person.
So, you draw up contracts
This scenario is actually very common, so that’s why we’re covering it. You’ll need to draw up a contract stating, explicitly, what happens if you break up? Divorce? If he dies? If you die? If you divorce, but you have kids? How is this equity being split up? Who will remain in the home? Will neither of you? Will you take on renters then? Or sell? You have to talk about these painful scenarios in detail with a lawyer, to create a contract that will protect both of you. And that’s not really a warm and fuzzy conversation.
If the market is aggressive, then you have to be aggressive. If a place pops up that seems perfect, you two can’t wait until next week when it’s easy on your schedules to see it. Someone else could make an offer by then. You have to go, right now, when it is not easy. You’ll tell your partner that, he’ll get cranky because he has a lot to do today, you’ll say, “But this is about our future,” He’ll say, “I know that—don’t you think I know that?!” Everyone is just busy and stressed, but these conversations don’t help the love in the home.
Sharing the work
The work of taking calls with the broker, sending that email to the realtor, swinging by an open house when the other can’t and taking pictures and video. You already have plenty of tasks you try to split up evenly—like doing the dishes and walking the dog—and now, here’s another one. The process of looking for a home and dealing with the finances is a lot of work, and splitting it up evenly can come with fights.
Over-sharing with outsiders
It’s hard not to talk about this process to other people. And they want to help. So then, you come home to your partner, and tell him that your friend’s husband suggested you should really bring this up to your broker or go with that agent. And your partner says, “Why are you telling people I barely know about our personal financial matters?”
Your parents probably want to be very involved. It’s just like when you plan a wedding—they’re checking in every day, giving you their opinions, pressuring you to do things the way they would. And you and your partner argue over who is letting their parent’s opinions affect this process too much.
It’s all business, all of the time
Suddenly, your little free time is eaten up by conversations about how paying the lender one point will buy down the rate of this place so you can afford it and how you should bring up the carpeting as a negotiating point with that one seller. There’s no time for being playful and loving—it’s all business, all of the time.
Not agreeing on the place
This may happen, and it’s hard: one of you falls head over heels in love with a place and the other does not want to live there. That’s painful. You need to find a place you both love. That’s what you agreed on. But you feel your partner is being close-minded or stubborn, and forcing you to say goodbye to a place you could see yourself being happy in. Resentment can run high.
The process will take up your entire life and every inch of free time you have until you find a place. You’ll face logistics burnout. You’ll get so tired of figuring out how to hit four open houses, all happening within the same two-hour time frame. You’ll get worn out about figuring out with your partner when is a good time you can all get on a conference call with your broker. You’ll take this frustration out on each other, and feel that your partner is the source of this.