Many unmarried couples today view home ownership as a highly desirable goal for the same reasons that married couples want to own their own home. The purchase of a home by an unmarried couple is more legally complicated, however, than a married couple’s home purchase. There is no question that if you are close to getting married, the decision to buy a home together is an excellent reason to get married sooner — before you buy your home — rather than later.
Here are a few reasons why. First, your unmarried status can hamper your ability to get mortgaging financing, since the bank or mortgage company will likely consider each person’s assets as separate, rather than together like the jointly owned assets of a married couple. If you pass the financing hurdle and buy your home, you have a very important decision to make about how to title your home. In Florida, you can title the property as tenants in common or as joint tenants. Each approach has its pros and cons. The home of a married couple is titled as joint tenants in the entireties, a form of title that carries legal protections not available to either tenants in common or joint tenants.
You may mistakenly think that it doesn’t matter how you title the home, since you are going to eventually marry your home buying partner. However, changing the title after your marriage can be much more complicated than you think.
What if you decide to go your separate ways before getting married? Divorcing couples can transfer their interests from one spouse to the other spouse without triggering tax liabilities. The same is not true for unmarried couples. Having a written legal agreement with your home buying partner while your relationship is good can help resolve home related issues when the relationship is breaking up.
Bottom line, if you want to buy a house with your partner and remain unmarried, it will be very helpful to consult a knowledgeable family law attorney or real estate attorney to educate and advise you regarding this significant life decision. Understanding the pros and cons of home ownership with an unmarried partner before you buy will help you avoid possible serious problems in the future, whether or not you and your partner ultimately marry.