Tipsters often talk about buying strategies and talk about how a person can find or purchase a home, but how do people find a home together? Most home buying is a joint endeavor, and balancing both partner’s wants and needs (and often the wants and needs of other family members) can be challenging.
Before you even talk to an agent, talk to each other. Get every decision maker to share what they need and want in the home. Get on the same page about what is absolutely necessary, what is strongly preferred, and what is negotiable, and make a master list. Work out disagreements in advance, and lay the ground rules for budget range and other limitations. The more cohesive the joint vision of the home is, the smoother the search will be. Keep lines of communication open, so if someone’s feeling changes on a want or need it can be addressed and integrated into the joint vision. Then, lay it all out for your agent so that the homes you are shown are the best-fitting possibilities for you.
Rate the Options
When you go to a viewing, walk in prepared. Remember that a home purchase is both a business decision and an emotional decision, so balance your emotional reactions against the master list of needs, and be willing to compromise in order to get the best home for everyone. Take notes about each home you see, recording the features and your impressions of them, what you liked and disliked, and how you might see yourself and your family living there.
After viewings, sit down together and talk about the options; share your notes and combine them into a complete impression of how each home option suits the joint vision. Have a discussion, and allow yourself to be open to strong or changed opinions, both in yourself and your buying partner (or partners).
Before making any offers, take the time to “sleep on it.” This doesn’t have to be an overnight, but take a little time to let your minds settle, then make a final decision. Consider how badly you want the property, and what you are willing to do to get it. Set a clear “walk away” limit, so that you are together on when to cut your losses and switch to a different option or go back to looking.
Talk with your agent and form the best offer. Make sure you consider how your offer may be seen by the seller and if there is any known competition for the property. Your agent can advise you and help you figure out what risks (if any) you could take and how to make your offer more likely to be accepted. If the seller makes a counteroffer, determine if it is reasonable, or if there is something non-negotiable (on either side) that could be a deal-breaker. Remember that there is a limit to how many counteroffers will be entertained before you, or the seller, should move on. With some teamwork and a touch of luck, you can buy the home that makes everyone’s dreams come true.
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About David Goldstein — David Goldstein is an Owner and Founding Partner of Express Schools, LLC. which operates online education providers Real Estate Express, Insurance License Express and License Tutor. Follow him on Twitter.