Your Guide To Home Buying As An Unmarried Couple

Unmarried couples often find themselves surprised at the additional steps it takes to buy a home compared to their wedded friends.

This guide will help you prepare for buying a home together as an unmarried couple:

Banks will assess you differently than they would a married couple.

Whereas they look at a married couple as a single financial unit, you and your partner will be assessed individually. This certainly has its pro’s and con’s. Know that if one partner has a significantly lower credit score it can affect your eligibility for a loan as a couple.  

Legal ownership of the title will be different.

Unmarried couples have three options when it comes to title ownership: sole ownership, joint tenants and tenants in common.

Tenants in common is the most popular. The difference between tenants in common and joint tenants is this:

  • In a joint tenancy ownership is 50/50. If one partner were to become deceased, ownership of their half of the property would carry over to the other partner.

  • Tenants in common ownership can be disproportionate to reflect each partners level of investment.  If one partner were to become deceased, their living trust would inherit ownership of their portion of the property if another option is not otherwise specified in their will.

  • Sole ownership is just that. One partner owns full legal ownership of the property. This option can have tax benefits and increase your financing eligibility if one partner has a higher income or better credit score than the other.

It’s highly recommended for unmarried couples to sign a property, partnership or cohabitation agreement when buying a home together. This is a legal precaution to safeguard both partners in the future should anything happen.

If your finances are separate it is ideal to at the very least create a joint checking account from which to draw the down payment and mortgage installments. This is especially true if both partners are contributing to these payments. It create a clean, clearcut payment process each month.

Know each other’s finances.

Discuss your credit scores, debt burden, savings, investments and financial goals. Get clear on where you each stand and how these factors will influence your buying process. Create a budget together as a couple to ensure you can take on not just the responsibility of a mortgage payment but also closing costs, homeowners insurance, property taxes and maintenance costs. Plan for savings like retirement, nest egg, family planning, future vacations, and emergency funds.

Buying a home together as an unmarried couple is a different process than that of married couples. However, that doesn’t mean it has to be harder. With an understanding of what to expect ahead of time and a plan in place, the process can be a smooth one.

How to Enjoy a Fast, Successful Homebuying Experience

Let’s face it – all homebuyers want to enjoy a fast, successful property buying experience. Yet transforming this vision into a reality can be difficult for first-time and experienced property buyers alike. Lucky for you, we’re here to help you streamline the homebuying journey.

Now, let’s take a look at three tips to help you enjoy a seamless homebuying experience.

1. Understand the Challenges Associated with Pursuing a Home

Planning ahead for the homebuying journey generally is a good idea. That way, you can identify potential homebuying hurdles and resolve these issues before they escalate.

Oftentimes, it helps to craft a homebuying strategy. This plan enables you to map out each stage of the homebuying journey, and by doing so, prepare for any challenges that may come your way.

You also may want to create a list of homebuying criteria. This list will make it simple to narrow your house search, and as a result, ensure you can discover your ideal residence without delay.

2. Get Your Finances in Order

You know you want to purchase a house, but you still have no idea about how you will pay for a residence. Fortunately, if you get pre-approved for a mortgage, you can enter the real estate market with your finances in order.

To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you should meet with banks and credit unions. These financial institutions can explain the differences between fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages and help you determine which mortgage option best suits your individual needs.

Furthermore, you should review all of your mortgage options closely. Because if you understand your mortgage options, you can make an informed mortgage selection that will serve you well for years to come.

3. Hire an Expert Real Estate Agent

If you want to simplify the homebuying journey, you should hire an expert real estate agent. In fact, with an expert real estate agent at your side, you can get the help you need to quickly and effortlessly make your homeownership dream come true.

A real estate agent is a homebuying professional who is happy to share his or her expertise with you. Therefore, if you have any concerns or questions during the homebuying journey, a real estate agent can respond to them immediately. And if you are uncertain about how to proceed at any point during the homebuying journey, a real estate agent can offer data-driven recommendations as well.

Let’s not forget about the assistance that a real estate agent can provide when you decide to submit an offer to purchase a home too. At this time, a real estate agent will help you put together a competitive homebuying proposal. And if your offer is accepted, a real estate agent will help you finalize your house purchase. Or, if your proposal is rejected, a real estate agent will help you reenter the real estate market.

Take the guesswork out of acquiring your dream house – use the aforementioned tips, and you can boost the likelihood of enjoying a fast, successful property buying experience.

Minimize Problems When Buying a New Home

Being in the market for a new home can be both an exciting experience and a scary one! It not only represents a huge financial commitment, but it also forces you to step out of your “comfort zone.”

That’s especially true if you’re a first-time home buyer. When you make the switch from being a renter to a home owner, you no longer have the “luxury” of depending on your landlord for repairs, yard maintenance, or help with plumbing emergencies. Now, when the AC quits or the furnace conks out, the responsibility (and cost) of getting it fixed rests squarely on your shoulders!

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimize the possibility of incurring major expenses during the first couple years of owning a home. While there are (usually) no guarantees that household mechanical systems won’t fail or that other crises won’t befall you as a new homeowner, there are choices you can make that will reduce the chances of being saddled with unexpected expenses.

Buying a home with a newer roof, energy-efficient appliances, updated HVAC system, and a dry basement are four ways you can sidestep many predictable problems down the road. Wear and tear will eventually take its toll on everything from hot water heaters to microwave ovens, but if you can postpone having to replace appliances, roofs, and climate-control systems for several years or more, it will be a lot easier on you and your budget!

So all things being equal, home ownership will be more pleasurable and affordable if you choose a home with recent upgrades, replacements, and improvements — preferably, those done within the past five or ten years. Besides comparing the maintenance history of houses you’re considering, there’s also the essential step of hiring an experienced structural inspector. When you’ve narrowed down your house-buying possibilities to one preferred home, a property inspector can help you identify “red flags” and potential problems before you close on that house.

As your real estate agent will probably tell you, if any major problems are identified in the home inspection process, you may be in a position to renegotiate the agreement or withdraw your offer, entirely. Since legalities are often complex and every real estate transaction is different, however, it’s always essential to consult with an experienced real estate attorney whenever questions, problems, or complications arise in a real estate purchase or sale.

While it’s a good idea to “expect the unexpected” when purchasing and moving into a new home, it pays to work with a team of trusted advisors. Working with a seasoned real estate agent, a knowledgeable real estate attorney, and a reputable property inspector will help make sure that your experience is both satisfying and relatively problem free! Knowing what you want and being adamant about what matters most to you should also serve you well in the house buying process.

How To Look Good Against Cash Offers

In real estate, cash is power. It’s not exactly the amount of money that you have been approved for by a lender. This type of “cash” is what you can pull directly from your account to buy a property on demand. It can be difficult to compete with cash buyers especially in tight real estate markets. Below, you’ll find some tips to help you match up against any cash offers that you may be competing with when you buy a home. 

Make Your Offer Look Attractive As Possible

First, you should always have a pre-approval letter from your lender. This lets sellers know that you’re a qualified buyer. You should also get your lender or realtor (or both) to provide some financial information about you along with your offer. This helps to add to the case that you’re a dependable buyer.

Let Things Move Quickly 

If you allow your lender to send an appraiser to the property as quickly as possible, this will give you an advantage in the home buying process. You want to reduce the amount of time that it will take to close on the house. That means you should consider cutting down on both the appraisal and contingency time. You could even consider waiving any contingencies if you feel comfortable. 

To speed up the process, even more, you should pre-order an appraisal in advance. You can do this before your offer has even been written. It can be difficult to arrange this, especially with larger scale lenders, but it’s always worth a try. Once the offer is written, the lender can relay to the seller that an appraisal has already been scheduled.

You’ll also want to get the inspection done fairly quickly. You only have a short window of time to get the inspection done. The quicker you get this done, the more serious of a buyer you appear to be. You should have the inspector who you’ll use ready before you even put an offer in on a home in order to expedite this part of the process. Usually, inspectors don’t take terribly long to schedule appointments knowing that their clients have short windows to get inspections done.  

Make A Strong Offer

Making a good offer could mean paying extra for a home you love in order to compete with cash offers. Spending more money helps to win. Here’s why: Sellers almost always will give a cash buyer a bit more of a discount since they’ll be getting all of the funds up front. If you love the house and plan to live in it for years to come, the extra money you spend will be well worth it.         

Write An Offer Letter

An offer letter adds a bit of a personal touch to the number you put down as a buyer. Here, you can tell the seller who you are and why you love the home. It can be emotional to sell a property, but a seller will feel more comfortable knowing that the home is going to someone who will appreciate it.