January 25, 2018 8:36 pm

Realtors or therapists? The relationship red flags popping up in house-hunting

WATCH ABOVE: For most Canadians, buying a home is the biggest purchase of their lives. Yet some couples jump in without answering some important questions, shifting the business transaction into a therapy session. Laurel Gregory has more on what couples should consider for happier house hunting.


Danny Israel‘s business card lists realtor as his occupation, but he jokes he has the prerequisites to add another title.

“It should be like a life coach or a therapist, really,” Israel says with a laugh. “You are a problem-solver for sure.”

Israel says he is often surprised by the conflicts that arise as he walks clients through homes he sells in Edmonton, simply because couples haven’t covered basic considerations.

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“The best is when you do go through a house and you are trying to figure out how many bedrooms do you need, and then you see one person look at the other person and they haven’t had the conversation of, ‘Are we having kids?'” Israel says.

“That’s where you get the looks exchanged and the panic sets in, on both sides.”

Before house hunting, Israel advises his clients to consider family planning and what they want in terms of house style, neighbourhood and commute time. Even when those things have been considered, the realtor is often in for a surprise request that doesn’t jive with both partners.

“I had one client who said, ‘Oh, we would like an extra room for when our mother-in-law or my mother is in town,'” Israel says. “Then I turned the corner to where their spouse was and they were like (Israel makes a cutthroat gesture). So these are the things that we can’t know and they haven’t discussed, but then you’re in the middle of it saying, ‘Who do I trust on this one? Who is calling the shots? And they have to work through that themselves.'”

Financial preparedness is another big discussion Israel says couples should cover. It can get awkward if one partner hasn’t shared the details of the skeletons in their financial closet.

“Sometimes not everything is disclosed, so if someone is maybe not a good money manager or they weren’t a good money manager when they were growing up, that will come back to bite them when they go to apply for a mortgage.”

Listen Below: Scroll to 09:00 to hear an in-depth interview with Royal LePage realtor Danny Israel

Melissa Bourgeois and Adam Skoreyko have had their own challenges house hunting over the last year and a half. Bourgeois hoped for a character home in a charming neighbourhood where she could see them raising children. Skoreyko wasn’t interested in a fixer-upper and favoured the idea of a new build.

READ MORE: This $750K Toronto listing could be the litmus test for Canada’s housing market

 Their different preferences collided during the showing of a house that required some upgrades in west Edmonton.

“We really, really fundamentally disagreed,” Bourgeois says. “I had this vision of looking out the window and seeing my kids in the yard and the potential this home had and [he] could see zero potential that I could.”

“We both just assumed, especially if you have been in a relationship for a long time, that you are on the same wavelength, ” Skoreyko says. “It is good to have those conversations even if they might not seem like they are necessary — they are.”

Now on the same page, the house hunters are renting a condo and taking their time finding the perfect home; one that falls somewhere in the middle of their individual wishlists.

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