Failing to listen to your husband, wife, partner, etc. is probably the number one reason why couples become so frustrated when buying a property. This may sounds facile, but it is the truth. Before I will agree to represent clients, I insist on meeting them to discuss their requirements in great detail. Sometimes the meeting may take the form of a conference call but one thing is paramount: everyone involved in buying the property must be present.
The reason this is so important is that very often couples do not realise that they want different things- even when their wishes are clearly in conflict. The most extreme example of this was a couple I advised about nine years ago. He wanted a flat and she wanted a house. They had been looking for months before they met me and couldn’t understand why they were unable to find anything suitable. I explained that I could not help them until they resolved this issue.
The importance of a garden, a study, the location, the size of the master bedroom, whether there is off-street parking, etc. can vary massively to each person. This is why the first thing you and your partner should do is separately write down your requirements for your home. You should then grade them all by importance and, once this is done, compare notes.
You will quickly spot where potential disagreements might be had and you can openly discuss where compromises can be made. You will save days of frustration and wasted viewings by taking 30 minutes to carry out this simple exercise. Now you may be reading this and thinking that what I am saying is obvious. I couldn’t agree more. But the fact is that I have bought hundreds of millions of pounds worth of property and have seen couples argue over points that should have been clarified before they had even started viewing properties.
That is not to say that the lists of requirements and agreed compromises will not change slightly during the course of the search for your home. However, the list should act as a very clear guide.
Now there are two arguments that I often hear for not doing this:
- I don’t need a list I will know the ideal home when I see it.
- Lots of people buy houses that they never thought they would buy.
And again I agree with both these statements. However, the second statement tends to be true of people who hadn’t really though about what they needed. They either only ever started with a very vague idea of what they wanted or they had little idea of what type of properties were available to them. The most extreme example of this was a client who wanted to buy a £2m apartment who ended up acquiring a house for £8m one week after we started looking.
In the case of people who say “I will know the ideal home when I see it” – well maybe. But why not narrow down the field before you start? By having a clearly defined set of criteria you will only see the properties that genuinely meet your requirements. If you don’t then you will spend an inordinate amount of time looking at unsuitable properties with estate agents. And, trust me, they will soon realise that you do not really know what you want, so they will concentrate on other buyers who appear more focussed and are therefore more likely to buy a house.
Having had 13 years’ experience of advising clients on acquiring homes in prime central London, I quickly recognise when there may be issues between what each person wants. I can also advise potential clients when their expectations are unrealistic or when they have underestimated what they will be able to buy. This initial preparation is not glamorous or complicated which is why its importance is overlooked. However, its essential if you want to acquire your ideal home with the minimum of wasted time, stress and frustration.