Purchasing a home is an exciting endeavor, but it also can be stressful. The process can try even the most devoted couples, revealing differences of opinions and priorities, along with every chink in your partnership’s armor. Here are some tips for successfully navigating the process without damaging your relationship.

Communicate. Making sure you’re on the same page can be one of the biggest challenges in the home-buying process. You may suddenly find you each harbor preconceived ideas of the perfect place and those ideas don’t necessarily mesh well. You may prefer a small, colorful, out-of-the-way cottage while your partner prefers a modern design offering a spacious media room. Finding ways to meet in the middle can be tough! 

Dave Ramsey recommends first searching for your common ground when house hunting as a couple. To do this, sit down apart from each other and list your top 10 priorities. These would be things such as a fenced backyard, the number of rooms, the location or separate baths. Then come back together and compare notes. Select your five matches, and if you don’t have five, separate again to list another 10 items. Starting your home buying search with your agreed upon items will make it easier to compromise down the road.

Budget. Finances always play a significant role in home purchases and these decisions can often be found at the heart couples’ disagreements. You’ll need to assess your income and discuss whether you can afford to purchase a home. If one of you needs to make sacrifices that weren’t agreed upon openly, it can lead to bitterness down the road. 

You should decide on the amount you are willing to spend for a home purchase before you ever begin looking at houses and don’t shop for properties beyond that range. Your mortgage payment shouldn’t be more than a quarter of your take-home pay, and you’ll need to calculate your debt-to-income ratio. Lenders typically prefer that your monthly financial obligations remain at or below 40 percent of your income.

Prepare. In order to make your purchase, you should set aside funds for a down payment. Normally this is 20 percent or more of the property’s price. Of course, the more paid on the purchase price, the lower the mortgage payment. This is also an appropriate time to examine your credit and clean up any errors or damaging history. 

Some experts note the handling of credit can also give rise to friction for couples in the home buying process, as many times one member of the relationship is far more relaxed about obligations than the other. Resolving credit issues prior to applying for a mortgage is wise from every angle, so take the time to examine problems and address them with creditors, and get on the same page as your significant other.

If you aren’t able to see eye to eye on your debt issues, it may be time to seek financial counseling. As Kiplinger explains, seeing a financial counselor can help you iron out your priorities and put your money issues into order.

Hire an agent. A realtor is another great resource for you when purchasing a home and resolving issues. Real estate agents know what is available and can help you find properties that meet your agreed upon features and budget. As Mortgage Calculator explains, realtors also know how to research home listings. They can find background information on properties and can offer great suggestions about negotiating prices, potentially helping you find a home you may not have considered because of cost. Hire a knowledgeable agent with a solid reputation, and it could save you both time and money. 

Buy a great home. Purchasing a property together can strain your relationship. However with good communication and preparations, you can successfully navigate the process. With these solid strategies, you’ll be happily settling into your new home in no time!