Key:  Establishing Priorities

It’s hard enough for a single Buyer to find a home that meets their needs, budget, taste, etc.

How much harder does it become when a home has to satisfy two individuals’ (long) list of criteria?

It depends on how much their lists overlap.

Overlapping Circles

At one extreme, there are couples with virtually no overlap in what they’re looking for.

She wants a walkout rambler with a big yard in the ‘burbs.

He wants a downtown loft near the Mississippi River.

Or vice versa (and no, the pronouns don’t have to be different sexes).

When a couple is truly on different pages, it’s usually time to re-group, and revisit what’s most important.

The best starting point:  where the couple is currently living, and why it no longer works for them (if you can’t get them to agree on what they want . . . at least get them to agree on what they don’t want).

Evolving Preferences

My goal as a Buyer’s agent dealing with discrepant “wish lists” is two-fold:  1) enlarge the “circle” of homes and neighborhoods that each partner will consider; and 2) increase the overlap between the partners’ circles.

Fortunately, a lot of preferences are more flexible than people realize, while others get sorted out in the course of establishing the couple’s priorities.

So, someone who grew up in a rambler with a big backyard might have a strong preference for that kind of housing.

However, once they decide that living in a more urban neighborhood is a priority, they accept that city neighborhoods typically come with denser, older housing on smaller lots.

Ergo, no ramblers — or brand new homes, unless they have a big budget.

Of course, the evolution can go the other way:  many couples decide that their priority is elbow room — for kids, a garden, their dog(s) — which inevitably leads them to other neighborhoods and housing styles.

As a Realtor, my job is to continue to provide my client(s) with good housing choices, educate them about trade-offs — and give them the space to work things out!

P.S.: One of the hardest couples I’ve ever had to find a house for?

My wife and I.

When we were living in a (very) crowded Manhattan apartment a decade ago, we initially couldn’t even agree on which part(s) of the country(!) we’d consider (I was pushing for “remote West” — think, Durango, CO, or in the vicinity of Tucson, AZ; she wanted metro NY, D.C., or Boston).

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

Leave a Reply