Marriage 101: Sorry, HGTV – Identifying Your Real Estate Needs and Wants

City Living, House And Home, Lifestyle

Our fab urbaneer team are a diverse bunch, who come from surprisingly different backgrounds. Yup, the urbaneer team not only includes Kellye, but Jim, who comes from a luxury goods background, James, an acclaimed professional musician, and Kimberly, the owner of design hub 'Spruce' in Cabbagetown. This diversity allows us to each contribute our unique perspective while collectively serving our clients better. 

How amazing is that?

This week's story is from our legitimate newlywed Kellye.

Yup, Kellye can claim all the “I Know” when it comes to everything “I DO!”, and this week she's here to provide a little insight on 'househunting as a team'.

“Before we lived together, my fiancé and I watched a lot of HGTV together. “House Hunters: Off the Grid” was a popular go-to because of the incredible locations and crazy situations of the couples.  A personal favourite: an Australian man dating a Danish geologist move to the northernmost city in Norway where he works with sled dogs while she studies the polar ice caps.

Are these people real?

We enjoy watching this show because we learn random and interesting facts – not only about the world around us – but also about each other. For example, in the Norway episode, we had no idea that every house in that town is equipped with a shot gun because of the propensity for wandering polar bears. Also, my husband and I STRONGLY disagree about painting wood trim.

See? You learn something new every day!


Photo courtesy of HGTV

Watching real estate television shows together allows my betrothed and I to bond over intense discussions on housing preferences – while analyzing every couple’s relationship. And while judging property and people we don’t know might cast us as superficial, I assure you it's not. It's really a chance for us to map for our future. Curled up with the tele on is the most unobtrusive way for any couple to address their housing future. In fact, it provides the perfect segue to have a more serious discussion about your housing needs, beyond the obvious necessity for two washroom sinks!

Yes, for most every couple there comes a time when you have to identify your 'needs' versus your 'wants', and then collectively negotiate their priorities. 

But first, allow me to clarify what I mean by “needs”. While HGTV – sponsored by the property retail market – insists that granite counters, stainless steel appliances and a sea of recessed lights are essential to domestic bliss, it's absolutely paramount you understand these “wants” are just a few of the surface choices that can be added to your property purchase. I mean, fashionable fittings do not ultimately affect the livability of your home. But they may create the challenge to dig deeper than the cosmetic surface and jointly identify the priorities and “needs” of your potential home. It's a big step in the health of your relationship.

So how do you and your partner identify what your 'needs'? 


Btw, the photo above is courtesy of my new favourite Tumblr –> Awful People of House Hunters

So, lovers, –> here's a great jumping off point for your chat. Over a bottle of Merlot, discuss “How do we each envision our lives over the next five years, and what does this look like when describing our Home?”

My hubby and I recently had this conversation and it was pretty eye-opening. For all our conversations about our one-day Dream Home, this discussion required us to shift our focus on our immediate financial realities, navigating our career-paths, and planning a family. How do all these pieces of the puzzle fit with finding a property?

One of the most important things you and your partner can do to determine your home ownership potential is assess your financial situation with a professional third party. A mortgage broker or your bank can help you determine what you can actually afford and help you narrow your search to more reasonable properties.  Listings for $800,000 homes are fun to browse but not terribly helpful if you can only afford something around $450,000.  As well, securing a mortgage pre-approval from a reputable lender is more and more essential in our competitive market.  You don’t want to be scrambling to secure financing if your perfect (and affordable!) dream home comes to market especially if it is a multiple offer situation. Sellers will always consider a firm, unconditional offer more favourably than one with a condition on financing. 

My partner and I are firmly committed to living in Toronto.  As you know this amazing city is made up of some fantastic neighbourhoods.  The choice can seem endless.  My work as a realtor takes me all over the city – I can live almost anywhere and make it work.  On the other hand, my partner works in a magical, faraway land called “North York” and desires a “reasonable” commute (for Toronto standards).  The area around his office is growing and there are some great condo buildings but it lacks the neighbourhood charm and walkability that I want. 

As well, we have decided to focus on the needs of our current family members.  Even if I was to have a baby tomorrow (a startling development to say the least) we don’t have to worry about the quality of the schools in our neighbourhood for at least four years. For now, we reconciled we need to live in a place that enhances our lives for our immediate five year future, and that realistically it's smaller than what we covet. More specifically, we don’t need three bedrooms. We'd be fine with two. Our quality of life is centred on my husband’s commute and my desire for an urban walking life. It is not about School Districts right now.

The conversation clarified our objectives, while greatly expanding our pool of housing options. It also opened our eyes to the realities of our budget. Buying a condominium is a much more viable option, even if it is where we have our firstborn.

We’re not the only ones considering raising a family in a condo.  Toronto Life recently featured an engaging article about the new urban family.

I highly recommend you check it out. 

Photo Courtesy Of Dave Gillespie – As Seen In Toronto Life

I spent a lot of time last summer working with an awesome engaged couple searching for the perfect condo. After a lengthy search we were oh-so-close to offering on an amazing one bedroom loft near St. Lawrence Market. To process, they went up north to a family cottage for the weekend, where they had an “Ah-ha!” moment. Surrounded by young families on the lake, they realized they were ready to start having a family. The one bedroom loft did not fit their five year plan, so they put their search on hold to save more money to buy a family home. It wasn’t an easy decision for them, but it was the right one. They managed to avoid a serious case of buyers’ remorse! 

Try this out next time you and your partner are discussing your future home.

The process will serve you well. 

~ Kellye MacMillan, Realtor & Guest Writer

Did you enjoy this? Read Kellye's first installment called Marriage 101: Because After Your Wedding Comes The Open House

~ Steven and the urbaneer team

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Kellye The Newlywed

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