Tips for Buying A Home Together
The Pros and Cons of Buying A Home
Dear April Masini,
I think I've reached that age where it's time for me to buy a house. Both of my sisters are settling down and making down payments on homes, but I don't know if I'm ready for that. I'm currently single, and I like having the independence of my own apartment. Not to mention I love the urban area as well. Do singles buy houses nowadays?"
April Masini's Advice :
Dear House-Hunting Honey,
You should never feel pressured to do anything that doesn't feel right, and there's no bigger commitment than buying a house. Your home should be your one salvation from the world, and if you feel at peace where you are now, there's no point in changing that for outside influences. More singles, though, are big home-buyers, and here's what they want:
Condos Many professional singles don't have time to maintain a home -- nor do they need or want all that space. Condos are cozy, they come with maintenance fees that assure that gardens, and roofs get taken care of by other people, and they often have pools, gyms and other amenities geared towards singles. Other singles are not so much busy, but are not inclined to home repairs welcome the maintenance provided by condominium complexes.
Single parents with part or full time custody of children often want homes in good public school districts. They don't want to be the only single parent on the block or in the neighborhood, so if there is more than one, it's a more attractive buy.
Single homeowners are more likely to be "house proud," and throw dinner parties or other parties that utilize their home or condo purchase. But they're not "settled" by any means -- except financially. If something better comes along, they'll sell and buy. Life is more fluid now than it used to be as divorce impacts families and their living spaces. Newly divorced singles find refuge in condos where there are neighbors for company, and guard gated communities for safety that is important to newly single women or women with children.
Singles rent for a couple of reasons:
- They don't have the money for a down payment on a purchase.
- They are newly divorced and aren't sure what they want to do next.
- They are newly divorced and are anticipating a legal battle and want to stay financially fluid.
All homeowners pay taxes for schools -- whether they are single or not. It's a contribution to a community you live in. Just like all homeowners pay taxes that go for parks and road maintenance whether they frequent parks or drive on the roads. Renters do not pay school taxes or property taxes in addition to their rent, regardless of whether or not they have children.
Buy a home with your honey?
Commitment takes many forms, and marraige, while the most conservative coupling institution, is not always the most fool proof. The sky rocketing divorce rate shows how unstable our marriage institution is, so couples who want to buy property together, when they're not married, are no longer any less stable than those who are married. Many couples choose marriage because there are tax benefits and other such benefits that cohabitation without marriage doesn't offer. But break ups, whether married break ups or living together break ups, are painful, expensive and often unwieldy in terms of dividing things up, including the house.
Even pre nuptial agreements are no longer fool proof, and many attorneys are refusing to draft them because they are being challenged right and left, and judges are finding holes in them, making their existence obsolete in many cases, and even more expensive in the long run than if their had been no pre-nup.
So if you're thinking of investing your money, your time and your life with someone else and you want to buy a house together, marriage is one way to do it, but so, too, is living together.
REASONS TO BUY A HOUSE TOGETHER IF YOU ARE NOT MARRIED:
- You envision spending the rest of your life together with this person.
- You have a history as a monogamous couple together (history being two or more years).
- You’ve discussed how you’re going to pay for things like mortgages, home repairs, groceries, etc., given your collective net worth and income, and you’ve met with a financial planner as a couple.
- You’ve discussed what will happen if you decide to have children, or have them by accident. If you are both working, will one of you stay home to raise the child, etc.
REASONS NOT TO BUY A HOUSE TOGETHER IF YOU’RE NOT MARRIED:
- You have trust issues of any kind with this person.
- You’ve only been together a short time (under two years).
- One of you has a history of bad break ups and divorces – not just the usual bad break ups, but more really bad ones, for example, more than two divorces where the husband was not generous with money in the settlement or the wife was intent on fighting to get every last penny.
- You’re uncomfortable talking about money together, so you just don’t talk about it at all, and make a lot of decisions together by “winging it.”