This part can either be fun or lead to a fight or two. We suggest each person write out their own list of must-haves, nice-to-haves and any deal breakers; that includes the basics like the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, as well as more personal choices like the style of the home, outdoor space for entertaining or an open floor plan.
Once you’ve both completed your lists, reconvene and put the two lists together into one master list that you both agree on; at least for the must-haves and deal breaker parts.
Choosing the right neighborhood is a huge step. Whether you want to be near the beach so you can hop on a beach cruiser to the nearest restaurant, or you’re more into a low-maintenance townhome close to your office and the Town Center, you’ll want to think long and hard about which of Jacksonville’s communities is the right one for you.
What kind of activities do you like to do during the week and on the weekends? Do you want a planned community that comes with neighborhood block parties and an endless list of amenities, or a quirky historic neighborhood with a preservation society? Is it important to be able to walk to an entertainment district or park? Spend time in a couple different neighborhoods and explore the pros and cons of each one.
Are you a DIY-er who relishes the thought of redesigning your next home, or would you rather move in to your new home and not have to ever don painting overalls or lift a hammer? This is the time to decide if you’ll be looking at new construction homes or resale homes (homes where you won’t be the first owner).
Homes come on the market at all sorts of project levels, so go ahead and have the conversation about what sorts of projects you’re willing to take on (i.e. replacing flooring, repainting rooms, sprucing up the landscaping, etc.) and the projects where you’ll draw the line.
If kids, pets or move-in parents are on the horizon for your family, go ahead and plan for it now rather than wait until you’re squeezed for space and realize you bought too small of a home. What will work perfectly for a party of two may quickly feel cramped with the addition of a nursery, a growing pup or a rotating guest room of family and friends. Take an honest look at your future in the next 5 years and plan accordingly.
Are either of you in a career where you may need to move for a promotion or expansion in the next 5 years? Is your perfect neighborhood in a not-so-perfect location for your commute to work? Don’t leave work out of the equation when it comes to deciding whether to buy a home or live in a certain neighborhood.
Some couples are in sync when it comes to setting a firm budget, others have different ideas of how much they should spend on the home. Talk with your agent about the neighborhoods you’re interested in and what different price ranges will get you there. When deciding on your budget, make sure you both look at all the costs of owning a home – purchasing, maintaining, closing costs, insurance, etc., and come up with a price range that won’t stress your finances.
Speaking of finances, how are you planning to finance the purchase? If you’re going to use a loan, where is your down payment coming from and how much can you afford to put down up front? Will any family members be helping? Who will contribute what towards the mortgage payments, taxes and maintenance? These are all important and something you should talk about as a couple as soon as possible.
It may not be the most romantic conversation, but you’re going to have to discuss a possible exit strategy when it comes to the home in case of divorce. Better to have the conversation now than when you’re in the midst of a separation. Talk with your attorney to draw up an agreement outlining who owns what percentage of the home and what happens in the event that you split up.