Kathy Murray's Blog
Unmarried couples often find themselves surprised at the additional steps it takes to buy a home compared to their wedded friends.
This guide will help you prepare for buying a home together as an unmarried couple:
Banks will assess you differently than they would a married couple.
Whereas they look at a married couple as a single financial unit, you and your partner will be assessed individually. This certainly has its pro’s and con’s. Know that if one partner has a significantly lower credit score it can affect your eligibility for a loan as a couple.
Legal ownership of the title will be different.
Unmarried couples have three options when it comes to title ownership: sole ownership, joint tenants and tenants in common.
Tenants in common is the most popular. The difference between tenants in common and joint tenants is this:
In a joint tenancy ownership is 50/50. If one partner were to become deceased, ownership of their half of the property would carry over to the other partner.
Tenants in common ownership can be disproportionate to reflect each partners level of investment. If one partner were to become deceased, their living trust would inherit ownership of their portion of the property if another option is not otherwise specified in their will.
Sole ownership is just that. One partner owns full legal ownership of the property. This option can have tax benefits and increase your financing eligibility if one partner has a higher income or better credit score than the other.
It’s highly recommended for unmarried couples to sign a property, partnership or cohabitation agreement when buying a home together. This is a legal precaution to safeguard both partners in the future should anything happen.
If your finances are separate it is ideal to at the very least create a joint checking account from which to draw the down payment and mortgage installments. This is especially true if both partners are contributing to these payments. It create a clean, clearcut payment process each month.
Know each other's finances.
Discuss your credit scores, debt burden, savings, investments and financial goals. Get clear on where you each stand and how these factors will influence your buying process. Create a budget together as a couple to ensure you can take on not just the responsibility of a mortgage payment but also closing costs, homeowners insurance, property taxes and maintenance costs. Plan for savings like retirement, nest egg, family planning, future vacations, and emergency funds.
Buying a home together as an unmarried couple is a different process than that of married couples. However, that doesn’t mean it has to be harder. With an understanding of what to expect ahead of time and a plan in place, the process can be a smooth one.