Compromise 101: Buying a Home With Your Spouse

Compromise is key to a successful relationship. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy, especially when it comes buying a home with your spouse or partner. How do you strike a balance between each person’s needs and wants?

As a recent Chronicle Herald article suggests, start with a plan. Have a frank conversation about what each person wants and needs: Detached or townhome? New build or old? What neighbourhood? Work through these questions and put together a list of what you must have, and what your deal breakers are.

Look through home magazines together and watch real estate shows. Knowing each other’s taste will help during the search. But keep the focus on the way your home should function rather than d?or or room colour. Changing these are easy; adding a bathroom is more difficult and costly.

Nail down the financial details before the search begins. How much of a down payment do you both feel comfortable with? And what about mortgage payments?

The real test of compromise will start when the house hunt begins. Even if you stick to the list of must-haves, there will undoubtedly be homes that one partner loves; the other, not so much. If you and your partner come to a standstill over a home, discuss why. Could some inexpensive changes make a difference?

Lastly, don’t let pressure to buy override your feelings and opinions or your partner’s. As this is the biggest purchase you’ll make, you both should be totally comfortable with it. Whatever it takes.

Will Premium Increases Impact the Housing Market?

Effective May 1, mortgage insurance premiums have increased. The question is, how will this impact the Canadian real estate market?

The announcement at the end of February by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) had many real estate watchers buzzing, not so much because of the extra cost, which boils down to an increase of $5 a month on a typical mortgage payment, but about whether the move is a positive one.

The increase doesn’t affect current homeowners, so the “who” is once again first-time home buyers. It’s a lucky new buyer who can put down the 20 percent down payment now required to skirt around mortgage default insurance; most first-timers will still have to buy mortgage insurance, either from CMHC or from its two competitors, Genworth Canada and Canada Guaranty, who have followed suit.

The government-owned CMHC is the country’s national housing agency and reports to Parliament. The changes it makes often signal the government’s intentions, and some believe the most recent change is only the latest in a string of signals from Ottawa that the Canadian housing market is over-heated. The concern is that a greater proportion of household income is now being spent on housing, and that rate increases (when, not if, they come) might put some homeowners at risk of defaulting on their mortgages.

CMHC officials deny the move is a government signal, and most observers believe the move was made by the corporation for business reasons, and that it’s a good one. The consensus is that the small increase won’t significantly affect the housing market, although one bank official did express concern that the increase will be rolled into monthly mortgage payments and further increase household debt.

Although first-time buyers, in particular, won’t like the increase (and may have bought earlier this spring to beat the deadline), it may prove to be much ado about nothing in the future.