Is buying a home before marriage a good idea?
The answer: It depends!
Long ago, couples married first, then bought a home.
Fast forward to 2019 and things have changed!
It’s now common for unmarried couples to live together before marriage.
A Coldwell Banker Real Estate survey revealed that 1 in 4 married millennials purchased a home together with their current spouse before marriage.
Unmarried partners considering buying a home should consider the following.
Put It In Writing
Hire an attorney and prepare a written agreement that covers all of the details and consequences if your relationship fails.
Who Will Qualify For Financing?
It’s likely that you and your partner will have unequal incomes and credit scores.
Both of those factors will affect qualifying and your interest rate.
They might even cause one partner to not qualify for the financing.
Be sure that you both understand and agree on how to structure your financing.
Who Will Pay For Housing Expenses?
Be sure to decide who will pay for specific housing expenses if the percentages of ownership are unequal.
You should consider setting up a separate checking account to pay for planned, and unplanned, housing expenses.
Who Will Own The Home?
Get legal advice on the various ways you can take title to the property.
Plan for all outcomes, including the death of a partner, rights of survivorship, and other important legal issues.
Understand the differences between Joint Tenancy, Tenants In Common, and other options for taking title.
What If You Break Up?
Love doesn’t conquer all and couples do break up.
- What will you do if your relationship fails?
- Will you sell the property?
- Will one partner buy out the other partner?
- What if one partner stops paying their share of the housing expenses?
- What if the property is lost through foreclosure?
- How will you handle personal property that was jointly-purchased?
A few final thoughts . . .
- Buying a home before marriage is not a casual undertaking.
- Take your time and carefully think things through before you buy a home with your partner.
- Buying a home together isn’t necessary to cement your relationship!
- Plan your (mutual) exit strategy upfront; just in case things don’t work out
- Legal Stuff
- Both partners should have a will or a trust.
- A will or trust will allow an estate to be settled based upon pre-planned outcomes developed before the death of a partner.
- Settling the estate of a partner lacking a will or trust will probably be determined by a judge.
- That judge may make decisions that create outcomes you don’t like.