While for many years it was most common for a couple to purchase a home together after they were legally married, today many couples choose to say “I do” to a house with a significant other before they tying the knot. While buying a home before getting married is extremely exciting and a huge milestone to celebrate, it is important to be aware of the financial risks of doing so before signing any papers.
Here are some things that you should consider and keep in mind before officially purchasing your first house with a significant other:
1 – Share your financial information with each other.
It is important that before purchasing a house with a significant other, you are both totally honest in terms of where you are financially. This includes how much money you have saved, what your sources of income are and how much you are making each month, any investments that you have, and of course, how much debt you have built up, and of course, your credit scores. Sharing this information with one another will help to figure out what will make the most sense in terms of a down payment, monthly mortgage, closing costs, insurance, and ultimately, what price range you can look at when house hunting.
2 – Consider who will take the title of the home.
There are a few different options when it comes to taking the title of the house with a significant other. These options include one person holding the title, both people holding the title as joint tenants, or sharing one title as tenants in common. This will totally depend on your financial situation and what makes the most sense for you both as a couple.
3 – Put your agreement in writing.
For anything that has to do with finances, you must have everything in writing in terms of who owns what, where payments will be made to each month, and anything mortgage related, or utilities related. Ultimately, everything financial should be in writing, even if it is between family members or close friends.
4 – Have a gameplan for the future.
Of course, everyone hopes that their relationship will last forever, but sometimes life can get in the way. In the case that you and your significant other break up, it is important to have the discussion in terms of what will happen to the house along with everything that you jointly own. And, if you are thinking worst-case scenario, which everyone should for precautionary reasons, in the case that someone passes away, a plan of action should be agreed upon as well.
5 – Know how you’re going to split the costs.
Next, be sure to discuss how you are going to split the costs associated with owning a house with a significant other. Once you own the home itself, you have to take into consideration all other costs – utilities, getting things fixed, any necessary renovations, landscaping costs, and more. These costs can quickly add up and should be split depending on what works best for you. Some may consider opening a joint bank account solely for these home expenses, that each person can contribute to monthly.
6 – Have an emergency fund.
In addition to saving for any costs associated with the house with a significant other, it is also extremely crucial that you and your partner have an emergency fund in case a larger cost pops up for the home. Make sure that there is enough cushion in this account where you will not have to scramble in the case that something occurs that may need immediate attention.
Ultimately, the decision to purchase a house with a significant other before a legal marriage is totally dependent upon your own personal and unique situation. If both are on board and ready for the big step, then move to happy house hunting!
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