Kathy Murray | Boston MA Listings. Real Estate


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.



A home inspection may prove to be exceedingly valuable, particularly for a homebuyer who is on the fence about whether to purchase a particular house. In fact, a house inspection may raise a number of questions that a buyer will need to consider to make an informed decision about whether to proceed with a home purchase.

Some of the key questions that a homebuyer needs to consider after a house inspection include:

1. What do the inspection results reveal about the overall condition of a house?

A home inspection represents a learning opportunity for a buyer. After the evaluation is finished, a buyer will receive a report that outlines a home inspector's findings. This report usually is available within 24 to 48 hours of an inspection and can make a world of difference to any buyer, at any time.

As a homebuyer, it is essential to review the results of a home inspection closely. That way, you can learn about any underlying issues with a home and map out the best course of action.

If you find that a home has a variety of problems, you may want to ask a seller to complete myriad house repairs before you finalize your home purchase. Or, if you are satisfied with a home after an inspection, you may want to continue with your house purchase.

Keep in mind that you can always walk away from a home sale after an inspection too. In this scenario, you can simply reenter the housing market and continue your search for your dream residence.

2. After reviewing the home inspection results, am I comfortable with a house?

Oftentimes, it helps to consider the prices of possible home repairs after you complete an inspection. If you analyze these potential costs and find they exceed your budget, you should plan accordingly.

Home repairs sometimes can be expensive and time-consuming. As such, if you are uncomfortable completing a broad assortment of home repairs on your own, you'll want to account for these repairs as you decide how to proceed with a house following an inspection.

3. Is a house a viable long-term investment?

The decision to purchase a home is a life-changing choice. Therefore, you should consider the results of a home inspection to ensure you can maximize the value of this potential long-term investment.

Remember, a home inspection gives you an opportunity to assess any structural issues with a house prior to finalizing a house purchase. If you have any concerns about a possible home purchase following an inspection, you should address these concerns before you complete your transaction.

When it comes to conducting a home inspection and reviewing the assessment results, it generally is a good idea to work with a real estate agent. This housing market professional can help you find an expert home inspector to analyze a residence both inside and out. Plus, a real estate agent will offer tips about what to do following an inspection and ensure you can achieve the best-possible results throughout the homebuying journey.


We all know that buying a home is a significant decision that comes with a great deal of financial planning and preparation. However, few of us are taught the ins and outs of actually obtaining a mortgage to make your dream of homeownership come true.

Mortgages are a complicated business that is always changing, both with fluctuations in market rates and with policy decisions.

But, if you’re hoping to buy a home in the near future, it’s important to understand all of your options when it comes to mortgages.

In today’s post, we’re going to address the 20% down payment myth, where that number comes from, and what your options are when it comes to applying for a mortgage.

Where does the 20% down payment number come from?

For most people, 20% of a house is a serious amount of money that would take years to save up. If you’re a first-time homebuyer and don’t have any equity to use from selling another house, 20% may seem like an impossible amount to save within the time you want to buy a home. Fortunately, there are several ways to buy a home without having 20% in cash saved up.

But first, let’s understand where that number comes from.

Most mortgage lenders will want to ensure that lending to you is a safe investment of their money. They want to know that they’ll earn back what they’re spending. To do this, they use several methods.

First, they’ll check your credit history to see how often you pay your bills in time. Then, they’ll want proof if your income and financial stability. Finally, they’ll ask for either a down payment or a guarantee that you will pay them back. Here’s where that 20% comes in.

If you don’t have 20% of the mortgage amount saved for a down payment, you will typically have to pay something called private mortgage insurance. This is an extra monthly fee, on top of your mortgage payments with interest, that you pay to ensure the lender that they’re seeing a return on their investment.

Most homeowners put much less than 20% down

If you’re feeling bad about the amount of money you have saved for a down payment, don’t be! In fact, most first-time homebuyers put, on average, just 6% down on their first home.

Since first-time homeowners don’t have the benefit of equity they’ve accumulated by making payments on their previous mortgage, they often have to come up with down payments out of pocket.

Other options besides a 20% down payment

There are several ways to secure a mortgage without putting 20% down on the home. First, check to see if you are eligible for any loans that are guaranteed by the government. These can come from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), or the USDA single-family home program.

The third option is to take on private mortgage insurance until you’ve paid 20% of your mortgage payment.

Private mortgage insurance can be paid to an insurance company or to the federal government in the case of FHA loans, you can put down as low as 3.5%.


Between these three options, you should be able to find a mortgage that you can afford and one that will give you the best possible financial stability in the long-term.


The homebuying process can be stressful, particularly for those who are purchasing a house for the first time. From the time it takes to find your "dream" home to the final closing, there may be many hurdles that you'll need to overcome to secure your ideal home. As such, it sometimes can be difficult for a first-time homebuyer to maintain a positive outlook during the most challenging times.

Lucky for you, we're here to help you remain calm, cool and collected throughout the entire homebuying cycle.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help first-time homebuyers maintain a positive outlook at each stage of the homebuying journey:

1. Establish Realistic Expectations

Although first-time homebuyers would like to believe the property buying journey will be quick and seamless, it is important to realize that problems can arise without notice. However, homebuyers who understand the ins and outs of purchasing a house should have no trouble identifying potential issues and minimizing their impact.

For example, a homebuyer who defines his or her ideal residence can narrow a home search accordingly. This homebuyer also will be able to check out a variety of houses based on assorted property buying criteria and boost his or her chances of discovering the perfect residence without delay.

A homebuyer who establishes realistic expectations will be ready for the worst-case scenarios too. And if this homebuyer submits an offer to purchase a home that ultimately gets rejected, he or she will remain confident and be ready to restart the homebuying cycle from stage one.

2. Become an Informed Homebuyer

A first-time homebuyer who learns about the housing market can improve his or her chances of getting the best possible results.

Allocating the necessary time and resources to understand the differences between a buyer's market and a seller's market, for instance, can make a world of difference for any homebuyer, at any time.

Furthermore, an informed homebuyer may be more likely than others to get pre-approved for a mortgage. With a mortgage in hand, this property buyer can set a budget for his or her home search and increase the likelihood of securing a terrific house at an affordable price.

3. Work with a Real Estate Agent

When it comes to purchasing a home for the first time, why should a homebuyer leave anything to chance? Instead, a homebuyer can work with a real estate agent to reduce the risk of potential pitfalls throughout the homebuying cycle.

A real estate agent is happy to respond to a homebuyer's concerns and questions as the property buying journey progresses. This housing market professional will even help a homebuyer maintain a positive outlook, regardless of what happens. That way, a real estate agent can assist a homebuyer through both good times and bad and ensure a property buyer can purchase a first-rate house that matches or exceeds his or her expectations.

Take advantage of these tips, and any first-time homebuyer can keep things positive at each stage of the homebuying cycle.


Before you launch a home search, you should put together a property buying plan. That way, you will know exactly what you want to accomplish during the homebuying journey and can tailor your house search accordingly.

There are many things you can do to ensure your homebuying plan will work perfectly, and these include:

1. Create Homebuying Goals

You know you want to acquire a house. Now, you just need to establish homebuying goals so you can make your property buying vision a reality.

To create homebuying goals, you should consider where you want to reside and what you want to find in your ideal residence. Remember, you can always modify your goals as you navigate the homebuying journey as well.

Don't forget to be realistic as you establish homebuying goals. For example, if you want to acquire a mansion but don't have the finances to do so, you should lower the bar for your home search.

2. Get Your Finances in Order

A mortgage generally is a must-have to purchase a house. If you get pre-approved for a mortgage, you will know precisely how much you can spend on a residence. And as a result, you can narrow your house search based on the finances at your disposal.

To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you should meet with a variety of banks and credit unions. These financial institutions can teach you about the ins and outs of home financing. Plus, they can help you make an informed mortgage selection.

In addition, don't hesitate to ask questions as you review your mortgage options. Banks and credit unions employ courteous, knowledgeable mortgage specialists. If you work with these specialists, you can gain the insights you need to select a mortgage that matches your finances.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

For those who want to receive comprehensive support as they craft a homebuying plan, hiring a real estate agent is paramount. A real estate agent boasts extensive housing market expertise, and as such, will help you create an effective property buying strategy.

A real estate agent devotes time and resources to learn about you and your homebuying goals. Next, he or she will work with you to create a custom homebuying strategy. And when you are ready, you can put this strategy into action.

Furthermore, a real estate agent offers in-depth guidance throughout the homebuying journey. He or she will keep you up to date about new houses that become available in your preferred cities and towns and set up home showings. Also, a real estate agent will help you submit an offer to purchase your dream home. Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent will make it simple for you to avoid overpaying to acquire your ideal house.

Take the guesswork out of developing and executing a homebuying plan – use the aforementioned tips, and you can simplify the process of finding and acquiring your dream residence.




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