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Sharing some of the most intimate details of our lives with our partner shows the growth of a relationship. Sharing a bed, bathroom and closet space shows the relationship is headed for great success or utter failure.
Once the love-induced haze of moving in together wears off, the annoying quirks of our partner can become glaringly obvious. Our choice is to either walk away or learn to compromise.
Recently, while out with a girlfriend, I had asked her how living with her boyfriend of four years was. Fine, she told me, but vowed never to move into a place with only one bedroom. When I asked her why she said she needed an extra room to go and sleep in when her boyfriend started to snore or annoy her. That was her compromise: she had to have a second bedroom to escape to and he didn’t end up being strangled in his sleep.
It is for reasons like this that Coldwell Banker real estate agent Connie De Groot believes living together first is an important step to take before considering buying a house together.
“Each of us have our own likes and dislikes and it takes a while before you can put that into one pot and be happy with what you come up with as a compromise,” De Groot says. “You don’t have to wait a year, but maybe try living together for at least three months, just to get used to sharing a space (before thinking of buying a place together).”
De Groot, who has seen house-hunting couples fight over everything from the size of a house’s windows to what kind of mortgage to get, suggests making a list of the 10 most important things each partner would like to see in the house they buy. Then each picks the three most important things on their lists.
“Usually, those three things will be the same,” she says.
But if both sides don’t agree, De Groot suggests taking it one issue at a time and trying not to get caught up in the specifics.
“Be respectful of what the other person thinks,” she says.
And, of course, get everything in writing and seek the advice of a real-estate attorney, De Groot says. This can not only help with certain tax breaks with first-time buyers but can also help ease a difficult situation if the relationship ends with a for sale sign on the front lawn and both of your belongings packed in separate boxes.