What to Know If You Get Married—And Already Own a Home
It’s one thing if you get married and then buy a home. But what happens if you do the opposite, and buy a home before tying the knot?
Do you need to put your new wife or husband on the deed? Do you need to reapply for your loan? Can they take your house should you ever get a divorce?
The questions are endless—and really, it depends on where you bought your home, as well as your individual goals and interests as a couple.
Let’s look at it from all angles.
Your spouse’s right to the property.
Do you want your spouse to have a claim to the property if you ever part ways? Do they demand it? In some states, they may already have a right to half your property just because you’re married (California and Texas, for example), but in others, you may need to add them to the deed and title before they can lay claim to the home.
Does your spouse want to have a stake in the home? Do they feel left out or like they’re just a roommate staying in your home? If so, you may want to consider putting them on the deed or making some formal gesture. If that’s not possible, think about ways you can make the home more theirs. Add their personal photos to the wall, set up a man cave or she shed where they can get away, and make them comfortable in your space in any way you can.
Their responsibility to pay.
Does your spouse work or contribute to your household income? Then you’d likely want them to pay their fair share of the mortgage, too. While you can’t add them to the loan that you qualified for solo, you can refinance under both your names, making them legally liable to repay that loan—just as you are, too. This can be a good option if you’re also looking to lower your monthly payment and take advantage of today’s historically low mortgage rates.
Your other assets.
Are there other properties or accounts you have on your own? Do you want to protect your money, inheritance, or real estate in case you split up? Then you may want to consider getting a prenuptial agreement before you get married. This allows you to clearly outline how your finances and assets will be split upon divorce.
Pro tip: If it’s too late to get a prenup (meaning you’re already married), consider a post-nuptial agreement. Talk to a lawyer in your area to see if it’s an option for you.
Get local legal advice.
Your best bet is to talk to a local lawyer. They’ll know how to best protect your investment and ensure your wishes are executed in full compliance with the law. They’ll also be knowledgeable on the unique laws and marital rights in your specific state—a key component of homeownership upon marriage.
If you’re not big on adding your spouse to your deed or dealing with the complications of it all, there are some alternatives: First, you could refinance your current home, adding your spouse to the new mortgage. Since rates are at historical lows, this could be a great way to save some money as you start your new lives together.
You could also sell your home and buy a new one—together. It might sound like a hassle, but for newlyweds, buying a home can actually be quite a fun and exciting process. You can choose a property that fits both your needs, as well as your plans for your future. It’s also a great way to ensure your home is convenient to both you and your spouse’s workplaces and that it’s in a good school district (if you plan on starting a family).
You’re Not Alone
Buying a home before marriage is becoming increasingly more common. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2016, 50 percent of unmarried women owned a home. Men aren’t far behind at 47 percent.
But when it comes to buying? Single women are far outpacing men—by two times! In fact, one in every five home buyers is a single woman, according to Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. Since 1994, they’ve made up a whopping third of all buyers.
So if you’re hesitant to hop on the buying bandwagon for fear your future husband won’t be on board, think again. You’ll simply be joining a movement of proactive, independent women investing in their futures.
Get in Touch
Whether you’re looking to refinance your current home, buy a new place together, or simply branch out on your own and buy a home before marriage, Embrace Home Loans is here to help.