I’m going to let you in on a dirty little secret, selling or buying a home can be stressful. One of the top reasons people get divorced is over money. You fight when you have money, you fight when you don’t have money, you fight about spending it, you fight about not spending it. It can be STRESSFUL. It’s supposed to be this magical time of imagining decorating, family dinners, BBQs, but in reality, I often find buying a house or selling a house when you’re single, if much easier than when a couple is doing it. Having gone through both (I bought my first house when I was single and have now bought and sold while married), I can attest to this first hand – WAY harder when there’s someone else involved. Here’s why and hopefully how to help:
When it’s just you buying or selling, you make all of the decisions. Buying? You get exactly what you want, where you want and for how much you want. Selling? Only you can decide who you pick as an agent, when you sell it, for how much you sell it, etc. It’s YOURS. All yours. Only yours.
When it’s a couple, you have to agree on a location, agree on a budget, agree on a style, condition, timing, etc. Compromise, by definition, can tick someone off. Someone ends up having to concede on something and usually, it becomes a bone of contention. Rarely have I seen a couple truly agree on everything. Throw in a baby or pregnancy, and now you’ve got hormones involved on top of logic (or maybe I should say instead of logic, hey, I’ve been pregnant twice.)
How can you try to mitigate the stress?
- Budget. Budget. Budget. Talk a lender to get preapproved then go through your finances to figure out how much you can actually spend comfortably towards a mortgage. What if one of you takes a pay cut? What if you have to pay for childcare? What if you need a new car? Etc. This is probably the hardest part since this guides the rest of the process.
- Now that you have a budget, what can you realistically afford within that budget? A condo in Arlington? What about the same money out in Reston – a single family home? What do you really want – a condo, a townhouse, or a single family home? Now where can you get what you really want?
- Wants vs. Needs. Do you really NEED a 2-car garage or is that a want? Do you really want something turn key or should you need to be open to some renovations? Do you need a large yard or will a small area do?
- Location, location, location. This is the ONLY thing you can NOT change. So wherever you decide you want to plant down roots, think about all that will effect. Commute time, commute mode (metro, driving, walking, etc), future plans, schools, parks, dog parks, etc.
- Communicate. I’ve been known to shut up when I’m really frustrated and keep it all in, let me tell you, that makes it worse. Talk to each other. Voice concerns. Talk through scenarios, so that everyone is comfortable with the decision.
I’m a low pressure real estate agent, as many of my clients have said. My main goal is for everyone to walk away from a transaction satisfied with the customer service, happy with their decision, and excited about the future whether it was buying or selling, because both area a new start to everyone involved.