Questions Unmarried Couples Should Ask Before Buying a Home Together
While there are many exciting stages of a relationship, perhaps one of the greatest is buying a home together and making it your own. Even though it’s a thrilling moment, it’s also something that shouldn’t be done without proper consideration.
Buying a home is a big life milestone in addition to being a huge step forward in your relationship. This is why it is a step that shouldn’t be taken lightly and one that you need to thoroughly evaluate before taking, especially if you’re not already married.
Here are some of the questions you and your significant other need to ask and answer before taking on the responsibility of being homeowners.
Question 1: How do you visualize your future?
Before buying a house together, you need to know where each of you stand in the relationship and what you both expect in the future. This can definitely be a tough conversation to have, however it is important for you to both be on the same page before making such a large purchase together.
If you want to be engaged in the near future, you need to come out and say that. On the same token, if you never want to get married, that is also a conversation you need to have and be on the same page about. Otherwise you’ll have to work through some awkward situations if your relationship ends and you share a home.
Imagine living with an ex like in the movie The Break-Up, having to divide the home you live in together and potentially see them with other people. To prevent that from becoming your future, you need to sit down and have a honest and direct conversation about what you both want before taking on that large and life-changing purchase.
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Question 2: Are you past your honeymoon phase?
We all know about the utter bliss that accompanies the honeymoon phase of relationships. This period where we tend to wear rose-colored glasses can vary from relationship to relationship. However, it is important for you to be past this phase before you enter into the big commitment that comes with jointly buying a house.
This is a big deal because your relationship is very rarely tested until after you’ve exited the honeymoon phase. Buying and owning a home is a stressful experience and your relationship will need to have experienced some sort of prior stress in order for it to survive.
You also look at your relationship and your partner differently post-honeymoon phase. There will undoubtedly be things you start to notice that annoy you, and that you might not have noticed when your relationship was in its early phases. You will also learn to appreciate them and all they have to offer on a deeper level. These are all important realizations to have before signing onto a mortgage together.
Question 3: Are you both financially ready to be homeowners?
Buying a home is a huge financial investment and milestone. You need to be certain that you are both in the right place financially and are ready for the responsibility. The very first step you both need to take is examining your credit score. Knowing the average credit score to buy a house will help you when applying for a mortgage loan so you can get the one that’s right for you.
After you know what you qualify for, you can work to get pre-approved for the type of loan you want. Some sellers will ask that you be pre-approved to help make the buying process smoother, so taking that step in advance will save you time and maybe even make the difference between you and another interested buyer.
Beyond the home buying process, being an actual homeowner also carries significant financial responsibility. If you leased prior to owning a home, you might be used to calling up your landlord anytime something needed to be fixed. That is all your responsibility now. If you have a leak or your sink clogs, it’s your job to do the work yourself or call in a professional. The same goes for interior and exterior maintenance, like painting, lawn care, and keeping the sidewalks clear.
Question 4: Can you both contribute and what happens if one of you can’t?
Due to the huge financial responsibility you’ll both be taking on when buying a house, you need to have a conversation about your individual contributions. You’ll obviously want to support your partner if they’re experiencing job loss, however both you and your partner should be contributing in some way.
Obviously life happens and we cannot control every single thing. There will be unexpected occurrences that you simply might not be prepared for. But you can’t let those things, like one of you losing your job, shake you. Before committing to buying a house together, have a very real conversation about what will happen if one of you loses your job.
You need to be on the same page about if the other person will need to pick up some of the financial slack, how soon the person who lost their job should begin to look for another, and what you need to do in the meantime.
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Question 5: What separate time and space do you both need?
Let’s be honest, codependency in relationships is very real. That is why you need to both be very clear with one another about what personal time and space you require. It is simply unrealistic to expect to be with one another every moment of every day, and honestly it’s also draining to spend that much time with one person.
While you might be buying a house together so that you can see more of each other, you still need alone time for yourself. If you are spending every waking moment of your free time together, it can cause irritability and issues in your relationship down the line.
If you don’t already, schedule time for yourselves as individuals into your week. This can be as simple as gym time, a nail appointment or even dinner with your individual friends. Having time apart will help you to cherish the time you do spend together even more.
Question 6: What are your expectations about household chores?
Household chores can be a touchy subject but it is essential that you talk about how to split chores with your partner. Remember, we are all brought up differently. Some people grew up with the “traditional” thinking that all household chores and management is done by the woman. Others grew up with a more modern thinking that everyone should contribute to household maintenance.
This is incredibly important to talk about because the last thing you want is to buy a house with someone and later on find out that they expect you to do all of the laundry, cooking, and cleaning on top of working 40 hours a week. Even if you find this traditional gender role ridiculous, you need to remember that this might be all your significant other knows. While you might want to be harsh about it, you shouldn’t be.
Instead help them understand why it is important that you share the work. Talk about what you’re willing to do yourself, what they are willing to do, and what you can do together. Housework doesn’t have to be a solo task and tackling it together can make your relationship even stronger.
Question 7: Have you tested your relationship?
It can be hard to know how your relationship will react to certain stressors, like buying a home and living together full-time. While it isn’t a game, you should try putting your relationship to the test with the full knowledge and participation of your partner. One fun way to do this is to first see if your relationship can withstand a road trip by taking a romantic getaway. If you can withstand hours alone in a car together, followed by some time by yourselves, then there is a good chance you can also functionally live together.
Another good test is to run the idea by both of your families. They might have some opinions about you buying a house together before being married, and it is important to know their thoughts and listen to their advice. You should also be able to depend on your partner, and vice versa, to defend you and your relationship in front of their family. After hearing your families out, remember that ultimately the decision is up to the two of you.
Buying a home is a huge individual milestone. When you’re buying the house with your significant other before marriage, it becomes an even bigger moment and decision. Before taking that leap together and making that huge investment, ask one another these questions. Being on the same page about these questions will ensure that you’re both ready for this step and that it will help your relationship thrive in its next chapter.
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