Nowadays, a couple of lovebirds that are unmarried show how serious their commitment to each other is by moving in together. It is taken another step further when they decide to purchase a home of their own. This is an investment they make in preparation for the ultimate sign of commitment they will make to each other: marriage. (Yeah, engagement rings are becoming a thing of the past.)
The constitution is clear on property owned by married couples, but with unmarried ones, it is up to the couple to decide how they relate to the acquired property and what should happen to it in the event they break up. Here are some tips on how to go about acquiring a property as an (an unmarried) couple:
- Decide what name(s) will feature on the property documents: At the time of purchasing the property, one of the partners might want to show their love and trust for the other by deciding to have only their partner’s name on the ownership deeds to the property. This means they relinquish all rights of ownership to the property, even if they paid most or all of the cost of the property, and therefore, cannot recoup their investment should the relationship go south. It is better to be practical in these matters, put your emotions aside and have both your names registered as co-owners of the property.
- Research the market and use a reputable agent/agency: Once you have decided with your significant other what kind of
property you want to get, it is good practice to start your search online on a reputable real estate marketplace like meQasa, where you will not only find a property just right for you, but also, you can get a feel for the neighbourhood you’re about to enter and, are likely to find, a very trustworthy agent/agency to deal with in the sales process. A tip to choosing an agent is to find out if they have good useful knowledge of your locality of interest. The more information a couple has, the higher their chances of making the right decisions regarding the type of property they want and the neighbourhood (if it’s right).
- Be transparent. If a couple gets to the point where they want to own a house together, it speaks a lot to their bond and closeness, but they still need to have an open and honest chat about their backgrounds: how much each makes, so they can better strategise how to divvy up the payment for the house between them or consider how eligible they are collectively for a mortgage or home loan. If either or both of them owe anyone a substantial amount (this could come back to haunt you if debtors target the new house as a means of recouping the money owed). Dishonesty has been at the root of many a couple’s breakups, so now would be a good test.
- Use a lawyer: You don’t need a lawyer only when there’s trouble, they are also available to prevent the trouble, so when you’ve found a property on which you’ve both settled, it doesn’t hurt to bring your attorney in to review the agreements you’re about to enter into and advise you on implications and possible issues that may arise. They can run background checks to verify if there’s any legal action or process that forbids the sale of the property in question, and also provide advice on how to go about ensuring the property purchased is legally yours. A lawyer is very useful in documenting the agreements between the individual partners in the couple as well as between the couple and the property seller stipulating such important things as how much equity each partner holds in the new house (especially, if you contributed different amounts towards buying it), what happens to the property in the event of a break up, etc.
Love is a wonderful emotion that is meant to be shared. For some people, it is hard to find and so, when they find it, they are unwilling to do anything that might sabotage it. Acquiring a home together affirms your love for each other, and applying the reason contained in the tips above should not be a source of conflict but act as a cement to your bond as you prepare for your new and exciting life together.
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