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Buy a home as a couple

Date posted:  3/26/15 09:30:00 AM Buying a home as a couple can be tricky.

Whether a couple is unmarried or sharing their 10th anniversary, buying a first home together can be a thrilling experience. However, it can also be just the opposite, sparking anxiety and tension where there should be none.

So how can a couple avoid purchasing mistakes that can jeopardize the well-being of their relationship?

Justin Newmark, a psychologist and co-president of the New England-based Psychoanalytic Couple & Family Institute, told The Boston Globe couples must act together and as one when purchasing a home.

"When you buy a house - I see this a lot - each person has to be onboard with the ultimate decision," Newmark said. "If one person is not onboard, they never have a sense of ownership."

Finding the right home might be tricky. One person might want a home in a hip urban area, while the other might want a spacious single-family home in the suburbs. Like any good relationship, communication is key, and a couple should hammer out the details before getting to the point of purchase.

Trulia recommended making a list of "must haves" and "nice to haves" to assess what is wanted or needed in a future housing situation. Each person in the relationship might have to compromise a bit when it comes to the home, but figuring it all out before the move can keep stress levels at a minimum.

Talk about renovations before purchasing a home
It's important for couples to communicate about any renovation plans - big or small - before buying a home. While someone might push for a new kitchen or bedroom remodel, the other person might not want to spend the money on rehabbing the house.

Rebekah Welch told the Globe she was in a familiar situation. She and her husband, Kyle, bought a home that needed some fixing up.

"I saw tin ceilings and stained glass," she said. "I saw all of the potential that was there, but I was naïve about the amount of work it would require and the cost of it and how little Kyle enjoys that kind of thing."

Rebekah Welch finally recognized all the renovations would be too much work, but that didn't stop the pair from working on a few minor renovations. The couple finally decided to sell the home and moved to a property that was recently renovated, which suited both of them better.

"I was much more realistic," Rebekah Welch said. "We both like this house more, so we're more willing to invest our time in it."

Consider a contract
Not every home purchase made by couples has a happy ending. Buying a home can be a messy ordeal, especially if one party isn't happy with the purchase or the relationship. Jordan Clarke, a Redfin real estate agent in San Diego, said one of most important elements to buying a home as a couple is proper preparation.

''Many different things can happen after the relationship dissolves,'' Clarke told The Boston Globe. ''It's much better to think about it when heads are cool and everything is great in a relationship.''

That includes signing a contract. While it might not seem ideal, the Globe stated couples should have an attorney create a purchase contract before they purchase a home. The pact should give both parties involved a solid idea of how much money each person is contributing and who will be paying for maintenance fees and other costs.

''It has to be very clear who is putting the money in, who is going to do the improvements, so they have a good understanding of ownership,'' Monica Rebella, a certified public accountant, told the Globe.