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Posted: 6:00 a.m. Friday, May 3, 2013

Unmarrieds buying homes together



By Clark Howard


The way we form households is changing. That begs the question, what comes first: Marriage or buying a house?

It's a fact of life that many younger people in their 20s will first co-habitat before they're married. A study from the Centers for Disease Control shows that 48% of American women between the ages of 15 and 44 reported living with a romantic partner without being married between 2006 to 2010.

That may be hard for traditionalists to swallow, but it's true. Some people are now going a step further too: People living together without the benefit of marriage are buying homes together.

A Coldwell Banker study found that 24% of married people age 18 to 24 bought a home before they got married.

That is a lifestyle choice. But if you do buy a home together before you're married, the odds are greater that you might not stay together than if you did got married first and then bought a home.

You need to have a clear understanding written before you go into such an arrangement. You need to put it down in writing who pays what, who's responsible for what.

You also need to address the questions: If something happened and we did not stay together, who wants the house? What would happen if we need to sell at a loss?

Each person need to commit to what their level of responsibility will be if the 'what ifs' happen. I know people don't want to be unromantic in their 20s, but when things don't work out and people try to unravel their situations, it can get messy.

Think about those 'what ifs' upfront because cleaning them up later is tough.