“First comes love, then comes… marriage?” Not always. There has been an increasing trend of young couples flipping the order around and going straight to buying a home together before getting married. This is perfectly fine — there’s nothing wrong with unmarried couples buying a home together — but I would like to offer a few things to consider before they jump in feet first.
Just like marriage, buying a home is a big decision. Unmarried couples need to protect themselves and their investment since they have fewer legal protections compared to married homebuyers. Before you and your significant other commit to a 30-year mortgage, you should prepare. Here’s what you should do:
Talk to a Mortgage Broker
For prospective buyers – regardless of marital status – the first step to buying a home should always be to speak to an independent mortgage broker. With more than 16,000 mortgage lenders in the U.S., mortgage brokers are local experts and can shop on the borrower’s behalf to find the best loan terms that match each individual situation. They’ll get you pre-approved so you know how much you can afford, and then advocate on your behalf.
Brokers will also educate you regarding anything that might be complex with your situation, like having the option to purchase a home jointly or list one of you as a sole owner. This matters because after the initial purchase has closed you cannot just add someone to the mortgage without refinancing. That’s a different arrangement than married couples have because only one of you is required to sign — but you have the option for both. For married couples, in a majority of the country, the spouse is required to sign, even if the home is only under one name.
Seek Legal Advice
Ask your mortgage broker to refer you to an experienced real estate attorney who can help you plan for taking care of all financial aspects related to buying, owning and maintaining a home. It’s a good idea to get everything on paper – from recurring mortgage payments and insurance, to the down payment, maintenance and any potential repairs. No one likes to think about a relationship ending, but it’s a reality you have to consider, especially when you don’t have the same legal protections that married couples have, like marital and community property. Protect yourself early on.
Speak Openly About Finances
Money is one of the leading causes of divorce — and you’re not even married yet. Talk freely about financial problems that could affect your loan, issues like poor credit history, bankruptcy and existing debt. Keep in mind that unmarried couples are assessed as singles, so if there’s a problem with one person’s financial history, it could significantly complicate matters.
Open a Joint Account
While you don’t have to merge all of your finances, you may want to consider opening a secondary checking account to cover the mortgage, insurance, tax payments and home repairs. Set it up so a certain amount of money is automatically deposited every month that will cover the mortgage, plus a little more to cover any unexpected expenses that might come up.
Marriage and family has changed a lot in the past 25 years. So has home buying. Leave it to the experts – independent mortgage brokers – to help you through the buying process and, ultimately, put you on your path to happily ever after.
Written by Mat Ishbia for www.RealtyTimes.com Copyright © 2018 Realty Times All Rights Reserved.