I Promise to Love, Cherish ... and Pay My Bills??
* Food for thought:
According to the 2010 Current Population Survey (conducted annually by the U.S. Census Bureau), there are about 7.5 million unmarried opposite-sex couples cohabiting in the United States today, a well as another 620,000 same-sex couples. The same source reported that married couples now account for only 48 percent of all households.
More and more often, especially with young, first-time home buyers, I am assisting unmarried partners with their mortgage financing ... and I'm seeing huge differences in many of their money-handling styles and skills. While I see it in older couples too, the differences often are far more dramatic in the young. It's typically very clear ... one partner is the saver, the other is the spender. The conversations I have with them certainly reflect that too, as do their credit report(s).
Right now, I am working with a young, unmarried couple hoping to buy their first home and obtain a mortgage. Well, I should say ... SHE is hoping to buy a home. I'm not sure about him. SHE has been the catalyst of each and every call. Every piece of information or documentation I receive to advance their mortgage comes from HER. He has been forthcoming with little. He's also been very non-committal and evasive with answers. I'm a bit unsettled about him, to be truthful.
Now this young couple, may or may not end-up completing their sales transaction. I say their chances are 50-50 at best right now. The outcomes depends on how persuasive SHE can be. And if he quits dragging his feet and finally commits to the process.
It's just my opinion too, but I think this couple has bigger issues that should concern them. Their credit reports read like a life story. While both partners are young, they are old enough to have already established financial outlooks, habits, and distinguishable spending personalities. Theirs are vastly different on all counts. Extremes. And because of that, I see all sorts of problems before them long term. Red flags screaming out "Warning!" and "Caution!"
Should this couple hope to have a long, happy, and successful future together, I'd suggest they have a sit-down and talk about their finances ... soon. Possibly even counseling. I think they need to be honest with each other about their financial histories (something I think she is possibly unaware of ... or doesn't understand the ramifications of) ... and their financial goals and dreams for the future. There should be no surprises ... no secrets kept between them.
They, as well as any couple (married or unmarried), should both know, understand, and then commit to what financial responsibilities lay before them. They should also know just how and what they hope to contribute as they move forward together ... and how and what they hope the other will contribute as well. An indepth, lengthy, honest conversation is warranted.
And as unromantic as it sounds, especially for this couple and other unmarried couples, this conversation needs to cover any future "what-ifs" ... and how those "what-ifs" affect them legally, should they part or die.
Unmarried partners must not assume that the legal options and protections provided them are the same as for married persons. It is my opinion that protections ... legal protections ... need to be arranged and put into place for each in this couple. That is especially so prior to a large financial purchase/commitment, such as this home ... or a car.
Unfortunately, I do not see much financial harmony within MY young home buying couple right now ... or the likelihood of any real indepth communications between them or any attorney occurring in the near future. Time will tell if they can make a "go" of this, or not. I'm hoping they prove me wrong ... and all ends-up well.
But I urge anyone hoping to buy a home with someone else, especially as a non-married partner ... discuss your plans and goals with one another. Then talk to a knowledgeable, experienced real estate attorney prior to making the financial commitment of buying a home or other large financial purchase. Understand and know your options and possible outcomes. Love and protect yourself enough to take these precautions ...
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