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Buying a house together before the wedding. Proceed with caution.

This is a continuation of the series of posts for first-time buyers. The initial posts concerned the steps in the real estate process involved in looking for and buying a new home. This series of posts concerns some of the things that first-time buyers are likely to hit or questions that they are likely to have.

Love springs eternal, but home ownership and the mortgages that go with it last a long time, too. Many young couples think about buying their first home together before they are even married. One of the articles listed below has a statistic that over 40% of Millennial couples will buy a house together before they are married. It’s a great topic for endless conversations and planning and it all seems so grown up, but there are lots of reasons to approach this topic with caution and much good advice that would tell you to wait.

Rather than rewrite all of the good advice that has already been given on various Web sites, I’ve compiled a few that were written from different perspectives – financial and legal. You can do your own reading and make up your minds about whether to proceed or to wait until after the wedding.

Here’s my list –

There are certainly many more advice articles on this topic out there, if these four don’t answer your questions or concerns.

For most couples, young or older, the commitment to buy a house is the largest single financial thing that you will ever do together. If you boil down the core advice from these four articles it concerns understanding the financial and legal aspects of home ownership and how that could impact the individuals in the relationship if the relationship does not last. It pretty much doesn’t matter, by the way, whether the couple in the relationship is traditional or same sex. There are probably a few legal vestiges of the past that still discriminate against the same sex couples, but the basics of the advice in those articles applies in either case.

Financially, it is important to realize and analyze the impact that buying a house can have on the partner's credit as well as understanding the impact of the credit history that each brings into the relationship.  For many couples this may be the first serious discussion you’ve had about the partner’s financial situation and credit history. That can be an eye opener and may bring up painful memories from the past, but it needs to happen.

Quite often, in modern relationships, one partner in the relationship may be the primary bread winner or at least have the only steady job upon which credit can be established and a mortgage obtained (oft times that is the woman in mixed relationships). The best intentions and promises of sharing the costs aside, that partner must consider whether they really want and can afford to take on the whole obligation of the mortgage themselves, should something happen and the relationship not last to the marriage.

The worst case scenario for a partner in an unmarried relationship was explored in a recent story about a woman who had been in a long term relationship (really a common law marriage) with a man who had been married before and who had adult children from that marriage. This couple had lived together unmarried for 20+ years and had children together in the home that he brought with him into the relationship. He died un-expectantly and she then discovered that he had never updated his will to include her and the children that they had together in the relationship. The children from the first marriage inherited the house and forced her and her children to leave the only house that they had known. Even younger couples need to understand the legal implications of buying and living in a house together before there is any legal basis for disposing of it and splitting the proceeds.

I certainly understand the emotions that are in play here. After all, it’s easy to believe that  love will overcome all and that true love will last forever. Well, a home mortgage lasts a long time, too; and the courts seldom take love into consideration when adjudicating property matters. This is a serous step that requires some serious thought and conversation between partners, before you jump into buying a house. I’d be happy to help you find that new home together and hopefully I’ve helped you make the right decision about home ownership, based upon you now understanding the things that you needed to know. The best of luck to you, whichever way you decide to go.

Norm Werner is a Realtor® working for Real Estate One in Milford, Michigan. Norms helps people buy and sell houses in Southeastern Michigan, in Oakland, Livingston and Macomb Counties You can contact Norm about finding a new home or about getting a Market Analysis for your current home by texting or calling him at 248-7863-2497 or click here to go to his web site and fill out Help Form for buyers and sellers.

To see all of the post that have been made to this series of posts go to the post series index.