Real Estate Battle of the Sexes

Who wears the pants in your family?  Are you the husband who will do anything to keep your wife happy including buying a home that you may not feel warm and fuzzy about?  Or perhaps your the wife who tells your husband that you trust their opinion and will live wherever they want you to?  Maybe you have even convinced yourself that your needs are truly aligned with those of your spouse?  Can you say "resentment?" 

90% of my business is comprised of marketing and negotiating on behalf of sellers.  That said, of the 10% of buyers I work with, almost all come to me either as friends, family, past clients, or friends/family of past clients so I know them well.  Most of these buyers also happen to be couples.  In my 15 years in the industry I can anecdotally tell you that most men who say they will do whatever their wife wants are absolutely full of it (add an "sh" if you prefer)!  June Fletcher of discusses this farce in her piece Why Househunting Can Spark That Age-Old Battle of the Sexes.  So who generally wins in the battle of "wishes?"  Husband or wife?

To Peter Francese, demographic trend analyst for Ogilvy and Mather, a New York-based advertising, marketing and public relations firm, the answer is clear: The woman’s. Mr. Francese, who has conducted hundreds of interviews on the subject since 2000, says the reason has to do with the fundamentally different way that each sex typically looks at home. "For women, it’s a nest. For men, it’s place to go out from and do their thing."

I’m not buying this and don’t believe for one second that the couples interviewed for such a market study even know how to answer this question.  Men almost always pretend to do what the wife wants only to subtly manipulate a situation to help fulfill their needs. 

Because a home usually is more meaningful to a woman, married men tend to defer to their wives’ tastes when house-hunting. "Time after time, men describe the home they’re buying as ‘the place their wife wants,’ knowing that if their wife isn’t happy, they won’t be either," he says.

Not my experience at all.  I believe that men say this because it’s the "socially correct" thing to say.  None of the men I have worked with have surrendered to their wives 100% of the decision making power in any point of a transaction.  Those who pretend too almost always veto something as we get closer to contract signing.  Men and women do almost always have different agendas even if they don’t realize it.

According to Mr. Francese, most women pay a lot of attention to the overall function of a home, including where various family members will eat and sleep. They are likely to care about how up-to-date kitchens and baths are and be more sensitive to outdoor views.

Men, on the other hand, generally are more concerned about how maintenance-intensive a home is. Most don’t worry about functionality, as long as they have their own retreat. "Show a guy a house with a garage, a workshop, a built-in barbecue and a home office, and he’ll buy it," he says.

Now maybe this is true for the suburban home buying couple, but again my experience in Manhattan real estate does not gel with these stereotypes.  I have worked with men (husbands or boyfriends) who insist on specific design elements that some would say are stereotypically a woman’s decision.  I also work with a very large percentage of women(wives and girlfriends) who are incredibly sophisticated financially and have strong opinions about the financial structure of a transaction. 

I guess what I’m saying here is that I don’t see many "stereotypical" "traditional" couples these days.  Nor have I for the past 15 years that I have been selling New York City real estate.  In fact, I think all of us (yes me and my wife included) would benefit greatly from a "housing therapist" to help us align our wants, needs and desires in an effort to procure a home that suits the entire family. 

Oh, that’s my job!

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