Getting on the Same Page: Here Are the Features Homebuyers Most Often Disagree On

If you’re a fan of HGTV, you’ve probably been entertained by shows where prospective homeowners are shown houses that seem to meet their needs, only to bicker bitterly over one feature or another.

She wants to be close to downtown, he wants to live in the suburbs. She wants a large backyard, he wants something that doesn’t require a lot of yardwork. You get the idea.

First off, I am obligated to remind you that HGTV is anything but reality TV.

With that disclosure out of the way, there is a bit of truism to the obviously staged arguments you see on your favorite shows. Whenever there is more than one buyer, the potential exists for disagreements. That discord may come by way of which features should receive priority. But too often, the disagreement arises over primary features, like location, architectural style and floor plan.

A recent survey by Porch found that 49% of couples say the home-buying experience put a strain on their relationship. The survey also found that the home features homebuying couples are most likely to disagree on, include:

Wood-burning fireplaces. In most cases, the discussion centers around whether a wood-burning fireplace would be better than a gas or electric one—or no fireplace at all.

In-ground pools. Ah, to have a pool or not to have a pool. While it would seem most homebuyers in warm climates would prefer to have a backyard oasis, there is still disagreement over whether the financial and time commitment for regular maintenance and upkeep are worth it. Another point of disagreement occurs when a pool eats up too much of a backyard.

Hardwood flooring. As popular as hardwood flooring is, it can still spark arguments among couples. Preferences over type of wood flooring and finish are not unusual. Of course, the other big discussion often erupts over whether there should be carpet or hardwood in the bedrooms. For some on either side of the debate, this can be a dealbreaker.

Outdoor entertainment. Bars and barbecue areas in particular seem to be a point of contention. The debate often focuses on whether these entertainment areas should take precedence over other home features, as well as whether lack of sufficient outdoor entertainment space makes a home a no-go.  

Finished garage. It can be difficult to find middle ground when one partner has their heart set on a finished garage and the other partner sees no value in it. Enough said.  

If you plan to buy a home with a spouse, partner, friend, family member or significant other, it’s important to thoroughly discuss what features are most important before beginning your home search.

With home inventories remaining tight, a disagreement could cause a delay in making an offer. While you are engaged in a heated debate over a formal dining room, other buyers can swoop in and make an offer that gets accepted.  

The key to reducing the stress of buying a home is the same solution for building any strong relationship: compromise. Have a heart-to-heart discussion with your partner about what is most important to you, but be willing to give on some features that your partner also feels strongly about, even when you might disagree.

Most importantly, be sure to have the discussion early in the home-buying process so that any differences are ironed out long before you start your home search.

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