Tips for Buying a House as an Unmarried Couple: 5 dumb moves
When my boyfriend, David, and I bought a house, we had only been dating for five blissful and wanting months. Most of our time was spent long-distance, and I only knew him for five weeks before I left to work in another state and we decided to start dating.
When we decided that we were going to buy the house together we knew how maniacal the decision was. And now, if a friend asked me if her and her boyfriend of two months should buy a home with their boyfriend I would answer with a fervent, “Hell no!”
Our relationship had been a whirlwind of fast, crazy decisions up to that point and they were working out so far… So we took the not-so-well-thought-out plunge and bought the house anyway against the advice of our friends, family, and realtor. They all knew better.
I know some of you have been thinking about this as well, and here are some things I’ve learned, (and I'm still learning!). This is what I have taken away from our whirlwind decision, and here is what I would suggest to anyone considering living together before marriage.
Don’t do it! Seriously, it’s so stupid. Even though it has worked out for us (fingers crossed!). If our relationship had ended badly, or just ended, the repercussions would have been devastating.
Breakups can be terrible experiences for your mental well being, but the financial ramifications involved with a home investment gone badly are hard to come back from, especially if one party feels betrayed, and takes the other person to the bank.
Breakup vengeance is a real thing. Don’t involve such a hefty investment on something as fragile as a relationship. No one ever thinks they are going to breakup, but sometimes life doesn’t happen how we intend it to.
Just in case you are as stubborn as a bull, and you are going to buy anyway, just be sure to plan ahead. Discuss how the shares of the house will be divided in case things fall apart. David invested more money than I did in our home because I’m a writer and he’s an engineer, (so not a huge surprise).
It's important to note, because of this, he owns a greater percentage of our home; we (and you) need to discuss assets with your significant other in case you need to break a co-ownership down the road.
It is easier to split a piece of pecan pie, than to split something tangible like a home. A marriage is a legal contract that grants rights to you and your spouse, if you are not legally married you have to obtain those rights in other ways. Be sure to get all the appropriate paperwork filled out in order to keep you and your partner safe.
Keep an open stream of communication between the two of you throughout the process. It’s important to note that planning for the worst does not mean either of you lack trust in the relationship; it means both of you are intelligent and realize the risk you are taking.
The discussions you have about assets, legality, and rights should be discussed openly and be documented legally. Talk about everything! Talk about the pesto garden you want to grow, his man cave dreams, and if you want all of the rooms to be painted in different pastels.
Talk openly so nothing is a surprise. Deciding to buy a house can be a great help to communication in your relationship. It requires both of you to be open, truthful and understanding about your finances, credit scores, and fears.
The Do Nots
Other than my advice to not do it, there are other “do nots” to watch out for.
- Do not forget to keep up with the paperwork. Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivor-ship is automatically granted to married couples but will need to be filed for those that are unmarried.
- Do not make the mistake of assuming you will be married before you need to worry about this. Remember that it’s not enough to get these things in writing; they need to be legally binding so do your research. Your Realtor should be able to help you with this part if you’re like me and have zero legal knowledge.
- Do not be afraid to ask for help.
After reconsidering, planning for the worst, communicating your fears, and dealing with all of the cumbersome paperwork, just enjoy it. You’ve already made the decision to be stupid and take a huge risk with your finances so just revel in this step you’ve taken together.
Buying a home is an exciting adventure full of decorating, renovating, eating pizza on the floor before you have furniture, arguing over room arranging, and the joy of paying a mortgage. David and I have been together for nearly two years, and will be getting married in October of this year, and haven’t managed to bankrupt each other with our premature home buying, so it’s not impossible.
As of now we spend a lot of time cooking for each other, completing various home renovation projects, and wishing we still had a landlord. Sometimes stupidity is really fun.
Chelsy is a writer from Montana who is now living in Boise, Idaho.
She graduated with her journalism degree in 2012 from the University of
Montana. She enjoys spending time with her pets, wood burning, and trying new
beer. Follow her on Twitter!
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