Helping Unmarried Home Buyers Navigate the Purchase
February 11, 2014
More couples these days are purchasing homes together before they marry, and some do not intend to marry at all. Unwed twosomes need to determine how to hold the title: whether the home will transfer to the surviving partner if the other dies, as joint tenants with the right of survivorship; or whether a percentage of ownership will pass to the beneficiary named in the will through a tenants-in-common arrangement.
They also need to consider whether both or just one partner will sign the promissory note. If both sign it, they both could be pursued by the bank in the event of foreclosure; but if only one partner signs it because he or she has a job, better credit, and contributes more to the down payment and mortgage, then he or she will be on the hook alone — regardless of how they hold the title.
Taxes must be discussed as well, mainly with regard to whether the partners will divide the mortgage interest and property tax write-offs equally if the payments are not equally divided between the two of them. They also must consider what would happen if they break up after the home purchase.
"I try to remind them that this is 100 percent business," says Nanci Lieneck of Weichert Realtors in Ridgewood, N.J. "They are joint owners. Married or not, they will own a property, and you have to think of that in a business perspective."
Source: "Crucial Questions for Unmarried Home Buyers," NorthJersey.com (Feb. 9, 2014)
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Updated: August 16, 2019