Owning a House Without a Spouse....

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams 414-525-0563 57026-90 Broker

  Time was....and sometimes still is....when couples proclaimed that  they "didn't need that piece of paper" (marriage license) to prove to the world that they were a couple. They could function as what society would call a "family" wedding ringswith a Mom..a Dad and children...no wedding rings necessary to be the "tie that binds them".  How well we know...no one gets married to get divorced..buys a house to lose it in foreclosure....Life changes, people change...and with changes can come complications...legal, financial and in real estate.

Hind signt   When one member of the couple decides that the relationship is no longer viable...and the other does not agree....the jointly owned real estate often without the benefit of any legal agreement,  becomes a far bigger problem than it is in any divorce.

     Now there are no "rules" , no case precedent for who gets what...who gets to stay, who buys out who...both parties are just stuck. While we can all look back and say "Why would anyone do that ?" hindsight is 20/20  for everyone and being judgemental does not help ths situation.  Not everyone deals in the "same reality" and one may imagine that staying together at any cost ...financial and emotional is the best thing to do while the other wants to start a new life free of the relationship.  What about that jointly owned house ?  No one can requiJudgere either to sell....to buy out....to vacate...and so the legal battle begins...which will take far longer than a divorce most probably and can be as if not more costly in legal fees.  The battle takes a fiinancial and emotional toll on everyone involved.

    If you or anyone you know is considering buying a house as a couple....and is not married, urge them to seek the advice of legal counsel before the purchase.   Life happens...and the relationship may not be the "happily ever after" once envisioned.  Whether thru disagreement, death...career relocation....change can happen and it is best to take the steps in advance should changes in the living arrangement change.

     This has been a public service post brought to you courtesy of Sally K. & David L. Hanson, Broker Associates with Keller Williams Realty honored to be of service for all things real estate in southeastern Wisconsin.



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Sally K. & David L. Hanson, ABR, CDPE, CSS, e-Pro,ILHM, REDS

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Re-Blogged 3 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Roy Kelley 03/14/2018 01:00 AM
  2. Mega Team Real Estate 01/20/2018 11:52 PM
  3. Gabe Sanders 01/27/2018 11:40 PM
Real Estate Best Practices
owning a house without a spouse

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Mary Jo Quay
Remax Results - Edina, MN

We saw several members of a family buying together during the boom to be able to afford the home. At one point I was representing three families where one of the spouses was tired of it all, walked off leaving the other party to deal with house and kids. I'm seeing a number of couples where one buys the home, both expect them to live there together.  It's become moe common to see the wife/girlfriend who qualifies for the loan on her own. That's a change. 

Jan 16, 2018 02:47 PM #31
Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®,CRS,
RE/MAX Professionals. - Tacoma, WA
Tacoma Washington Agent/Broker & Market Authority!

Some of our laws are archaic however they are still the law of the land and need to take precedent. We can't change the law just because trends change unless congress or the legislature makes it so. Your post was very thought-provoking for me Sally K. & David L. Hanson 

Jan 16, 2018 04:30 PM #32
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Sally and David a divorce creates many challenges and a jointly owned house is among one of the big obstacles.

Jan 16, 2018 04:48 PM #33
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

One of my children was in the position of buying a home and living with a significant other. She decided not to buy as a couple, luckily. She was smart enough to buy in her name only. The relationship didn't work out, so it's a good thing it wasn't in both names.

Jan 16, 2018 05:44 PM #34
Bob "RealMan" Timm
Alliance Real Estate - Minot - Minot, ND
Bob Timm, Broker Associate, Alliance Real Estate

Great post Sally K. & David L. Hanson . I have been fortunate enough NOT to have been involved in a messy situation like this and I hope it stays that way.

Jan 16, 2018 05:53 PM #35
Dörte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Sally & David,

Things are always easy, when the sun is shining, but when the storm clouds come, hold on to the tiller. Better to be prepared ahead of time.

Jan 16, 2018 07:46 PM #36
Corey Martin
Martin Presence Group - Ruston, LA
Real Estate and Management Solutions

You make an excellent point. Not taking the correct steps can lead to a whole mess of problems. Thanks for sharing. 

Jan 16, 2018 07:58 PM #37
Terry McCarley
REMAX Realty Team - Cape Coral FL - Cape Coral, FL

Excellent post with great advice for non-married couples considering buying a home together.  My daughter (and her now husband) bought a home before getting married but they already planned on getting married and the home was one they just felt they couldn’t pass up.

Jan 17, 2018 05:53 AM #38
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

In this brief window of time can't we all just get along? There is no $ in the grave

Jan 17, 2018 07:19 AM #39
Derrick Guevremont
Counselor Realty of Rochester - Rochester, MN
Rochester MN Homes for Sale

Very good advice.  Seen a couple of situations where two people were on the loan when they broke up.  One situation had a partner refusing to sell and lived in the home while the other couldn't get a loan to buy anything else. 

The other situation had one partner living in the home who refused to sell, and refused to pay, when their partner moved out.  They both were on the deed went it went into foreclosure and neither could buy anything else.  They both still have a few years of financial recovery before they will be able to borrow money again.

Jan 17, 2018 07:46 AM #40
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

Washington is also a common law state, so it adds to the legal ramifications of home-ownership. Your advice is so important - best to have a plan in place prior to trouble, because we know too well the emotional state of some people when trouble arrives. Cooperation often flies out the window. D 

Jan 17, 2018 07:56 AM #41
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Sally K. & David L. Hanson - You shared a lot of great information here. It is good to know that there are real estate experts such as you to help clientele who can offer sound advice when they are in need. 

Jan 17, 2018 01:01 PM #42
Elyse Berman, PA
Best Connections Realty, Inc. - Boca Raton, FL
Boca Raton FL - (561) 716-7824 - CRS, ABR, GRI

Sally K. & David L. Hanson This is excellent advice.  Having heard it for years working as a court reporter and I also love Judge Judy ( she touts this same information) people not married who are considering a home purchase would be wise to seek legal counsel first.  Good for you!  

Btw, we missed you at lunch yesterday! 

Jan 17, 2018 01:44 PM #43
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Awesome advice, Diane and I are sinners, but we have a Trust created by Attorneys:) Endre

Jan 17, 2018 10:31 PM #44
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad

Such wise advice, Sally and David. Seeking legal counsel makes so much sense. CA does not recognize common law marriage, as far as I know. Probabl a good chat with a CPA makes sense, too, to understand financial issues.

Jan 17, 2018 10:42 PM #45
Karen Feltman
Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA Lepic-Kroeger REALTORS - Cedar Rapids, IA
Relocation Specialist

Great post and it comes up often.  I often see couples that are not yet married, but only one of them is on the mortgage.  That is usually the easiest.  If they are planning to get married soon, it won't matter because the spouse would be in title to the property at that point anyway.  Great information.

Jan 18, 2018 04:12 PM #46
John Wiley
Right Move Real Estate Group- EXP Realty - Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL Real Estate GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

Divorce of a married couple has plenty of issues in and of itself. Professional assistance should be high on the list.

Qualified Real Estate agent. Professional CPA/Financial Adviser, Divorce Attorney.

When a couple is not legally married, they have even more concerns that require expert assistance.

Thanks for a great post.

Jan 22, 2018 11:58 AM #47
Dorie Dillard
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.346.1799 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Good morning Sally K. & David L. Hanson,

I'm so glad that Gabe Sanders reblogged your post. In this day and age so many are going down this path and legal assistance in these uncharted waters is a must. I commented before but just was talking to a friend yesterday and her daughter is embroiled over a house she bought with a partner. Its a mess..they wouldn't seek legal advice before the purchase and now its a very difficult estrangement.

Jan 28, 2018 04:54 AM #48
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning again Sally and David. Wise words and great direction. I have owned property with a friend and always had a partnership agreement in place.

Jan 28, 2018 05:59 AM #49
John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA

Great advice! Yes, life does change. No one anticipates failure of a relationship. Many do not plan for that eventuality because it would be seen as doubt on their part about the intention of their partner.

Mar 22, 2018 04:44 PM #50
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