Shopping for a Home? Compromise is Key

Choosing your new home is an important decision.

A house is likely the most expensive purchase you will make in your lifetime. It’s an investment in a future you envision, a home for you and your family to grow and prosper.

Shopping for a home can be stressful, especially if the decision-making process is split between two people. Even if you and your partner share a vision, you may place different levels of importance on different aspects of that shared vision.

We all know it’s best to be open and honest about what we want in a home but doing so isn’t always easy. Finding common ground and prioritizing what really matters can be tricky, but we’re here to help.

Here’s a stress-free method for finding compromise with your partner when you’re on the market for a new home.

  1. Brainstorm and free-write separately.
  2. Organize the list and score each item.
  3. Combine lists.
  4. Adjust the scoring.
  5. Talk to your Realtor®.

Compromising is key to a successful home search.

1. Brainstorm and free-write separately.

Set aside time for you and your partner to brainstorm and free-write separately all the features and specifications you each want in a home. Be specific.

Imagine your day from start to finish – how will your new home support you? Imagine moving from room to room – what do you see? What does your living situation have now that you love? What do you want to improve upon?

Also consider location and geography – e.g. How wide is your search radius? What do you want nearby? Are you more concerned with commuting distances or community features?

You won’t think of everything all at once – Deciding what you want in a home is almost as big as deciding to buy a new home! Take as much as a week to brainstorm home features and decide what you need and want.

Ask for your family members’ input too – but be sure they know that they may not get everything they wish for.

2. Organize the list and score each item.

Split your and your partner’s list into the same categories – Bedroom, Kitchen, Bathroom, Basement, Yard, Location/Geography/Climate, etc.

Score each item on your list on a 1-to-5 scale and have your partner do the same. Use the infographic as a guide:

Home Feature Importance Rating Scale

After scoring, your list and your partner’s list will both look like the sample below, but likely with more categories and features.

My List

3. Combine lists.

Now, with your partner’s help, combine your lists. For items that appear twice, take the average score. Reword certain descriptions to combine if there’s agreement and add features for differences.

4. Adjust the scoring.

Look at the average score column with your partner and adjust the scoring.

  • Add 1 to anything that is necessary and cannot be added later.
  • Subtract 1 from anything that you could renovate or improve later.

For example, you cannot add a large backyard to a house that has no property, but you can install new appliances after you move in.

When our sample lists are merged and adjusted into one, we have the following:

Adjusted List

5. Talk to your Realtor®, your home search expert.

Reorder the list to put all 5-6 rated features at the top, followed by 3-4 rated features.

Our sample partners really want an eat-in kitchen and kitchen island, a spacious yard that’s safe to play in, and two-and-a-half baths with at least one bathtub. These are the highest rated features and the things most important to communicate to the home search expert who is helping you in your quest.

When speaking with your Realtor®, explain that you and your partner have determined the features that are most important by being communicative and compromising. Realtors appreciate when you’ve done this kind of work already. It helps the home search immensely, putting you, your partner, and your local real estate expert on the same page.

You’ve done the work, now let an expert lead the way.

Once you’ve completed this exercise, you know exactly what home features matter to you and your search becomes much easier.

Visit to find your new home today or speak with a Realtor® who will work with you to understand the next steps toward making your homeownership goals a reality.


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