According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, over 79% of couples who married in 2014 actually lived together before buying a house. The data shows that this is a 3% increase over the course of 12 months.
Most of these couples will go into property investment together before they’ve even walked down the aisle. Don’t worry though, because if you’re not planning on tying the knot, you can still get nice and tied down by buying property together. Just joking – but it is a pretty big commitment, just like marriage.
You’ll definitely need to think about the practicalities when it comes to buying a property out of wedlock – i.e. if you don’t have a marriage licence there are some legal holes you’ll be wanting to avoid.
First off you’ll want to think about having a contract drafted up between you. This will state exactly what will happen to the property in the event of you breaking up. It may also need to be structured so as to dictate what happens in case one of you passes away. You should absolutely seek legal advice when drafting up this kind of document.
Before you go hunting for property
Hold your horses, there are quite a few things you’ll want to consider before you get out there hunting for property on the prairies. First stop is applying for a loan.
Applying for home loans can be quite complicated if you’re not married to your partner. Whilst lenders will tend to view married couples as single entity, unmarried couples will most likely be assessed individually.
You could always choose to apply for a home loan on your lonesome, but this could leave your partner out of the ownership equation. This can lead to financial vulnerability if you were to break up, as you may not be able to afford the repayments on any loaned amounts.
Make sure you seek advice from a specialist in home loans, as there are various ways you can tailor a loan to suit your needs as an unmarried couple.
Buying a house – from loan to ownership
Get it all in writing
So it might not be very cute and fuzzy, but at some point you’ll need to talk legalities with your partner. Especially if you’re planning on investing in a property. This can be tricky for unmarried couples, as there is no formal agreement in place – you’re just two separate clouds floating around in the sky of property. If one of those clouds bursts into rain, it’ll get everyone wet…
Get your lawyer to draft a clear agreement which sets out how the property will be divided up in the event of your potential separation. A contract like this signed by you both, will document what will become of the property in the event of a break up, or how one of you may receive X-amount in compensation if the other half would like to stay in the property.
Taking ownership posthumously
Clearly it will never be a nice thing to chat about as a couple, but you’ve got to think about what might happen to the property if one of you were to pass away. You’ll need to decide on an ownership structure, of which there are generally two types: Tenants in Common (TIC), and Joint Tenants.
Joint Tenants is simple; if one of you passes away, your half automatically passes on to the surviving partner – this is much the same as in marriage. Tenants in Common is slightly more complex, but don’t worry it’s not as bad as it sounds. Essentially if you pass away under a TIC agreement, the deceased’s will determines how their share of the property will be divided up.
In cases where there is no will, there are preventative laws to ensure the property will be distributed fairly – a safety net if you will.
Buying a home: What actually prevents young people