How to buy a home with your significant other

February 08, 2022

For some, homeownership happens before marriage. Get a complete checklist of the steps to take if you're buying a house with your partner.

 

Diving into the homebuying process can be daunting-yet-exciting. If you’re looking to buy a home with your significant other, there are a few more risks than if you’re married. However, if you and your partner can make an informed decision on titling and write a contract together, you both might be able to manage this risk.

 

First-time homebuyer tips for unmarried couples

Strange as it sounds, if you’re not married, banks treat you and your significant other like joint partners in a business deal. This is a key difference for unmarried couples. If you understand this, you can protect yourself against adverse circumstances. This checklist will help you and your partner focus on the important financial aspects of your first-time home purchase.

 

As you get started

  • Review your finances: Look at your bank accounts as well as brokerage and mutual fund accounts. Then, consider any debt you have. Develop a plan to make the purchase both fair and realistic for both you and your partner.
  • Compare credit scores: You may get a better mortgage rate if only the person with the (substantially) better credit score applies. Talk to your mortgage banker if you have any questions. 
  • Save for a down payment: Often this is 20 percent of the total cost of the home, but not all loans require that much down.

 

During your search

  • Agree on a final price and total budget: A mortgage calculator can tell the monthly payments needed for different priced homes. When looking at homes, also consider: can you afford updates if needed?
  • Make sure you’re aligned on location, style and size: You can always repaint the kitchen, but you can’t change how far you are from family and friends.
  • Decide on a mortgage plan: While you may get a better rate if only the person with better credit applies, you’ll be more likely to secure a larger loan amount if you both apply (assuming you’re both regularly employed).
  • Get prequalified for a mortgage: Prequalification from a lender will tell you the maximum mortgage you qualify for.

 

Before closing on your home

  • Budget for closing costs: Originating a mortgage and transferring ownership can cost in the thousands. This may include origination charges, title transfer taxes, title insurance fees and inspection fees. 
  • Decide on titling: “Sole ownership” on the title means only one of you owns the home; “joint tenancy” means you and your partner own the home equally and if one of you dies, it passes to the other; “tenants in common” lets you specify the share of the home each partner owns — and who gets it upon passing. 
  • Draw up a legal contract: The future is unknowable, but a legally binding plan can save you both future headaches.

 

As you’re moving in

  • Plan for upgrades and new furniture: Having contractors in your home will be less stressful before you’ve actually moved in; talk through the upgrades and any major furniture purchases you and your partner will need for your new home. 
  • Open a joint bank account: This is one of the easiest ways to share home ownership expenses and save together. Consider auto deposits so saving becomes second nature.

 

Buying a house looks different for everyone. Find out how one couple bought an investment property as their first home.

#ToughMoneyTopics don’t stop there. Read on to learn about child care costs.

Related content

How I did it: My house remodel

How do I prequalify for a mortgage?

8 steps to take before you buy a home

Your guide to breaking the rental cycle

4 ways to free up your budget (and your life) with a smaller home

Get more home for your money with these tips

First-time homebuyer’s guide to getting a mortgage

Tailor Ridge eBill case study

Home buying myths: Realities of owning a home

5 tips to help you land a small business loan

How I did it: Turned my side hustle into a full-time job

Is it cheaper to build or buy a house

Middle-market direct lending: Obstacles and opportunities

Managing the impacts of appraisal gaps in a hot housing market

What is a home equity line of credit (HELOC) and what can it be used for?

Money Moments: How to finance a home addition

Common unexpected expenses and three ways to pay for them

Is it time to get a shared bank account with your partner?

For today's homebuyers, time and money are everything

Here’s how to create a budget for yourself

How to use debt to build wealth

4 benefits of independent loan agents

Housing market trends and relocation impact

High-cost housing and down payment options in relocation

For today's relocating home buyers, time and money are everything

Crypto + Relo: Mobility industry impacts

How I did it: Deciding whether to buy an RV

Take the stress out of buying your teen a car

Streamline operations with all-in-one small business financial support

Beyond Mars, AeroVironment’s earthly expansion fueled by U.S. Bank

Checklist: financial recovery after a natural disaster

Personal loans first-timer's guide: 7 questions to ask

Dear Money Mentor: When should I refinance a mortgage?

How I did it: Bought a home without a 20 percent down payment

Starting your homebuying journey: Tips from a U.S. Bank Goals Coach

House Hacks: How buying an investment property worked as my first home

The lowdown on 6 myths about buying a home

Multiple accounts can make it easier to follow a monthly budget

Evaluating interest rate risk creating risk management strategy

You can take these 18 budgeting tips straight to the bank

9 simple ways to save

Opening a business on a budget during COVID-19

How I did it: Learned to budget as a single mom

What’s a subordination agreement, and why does it matter?

What is an escrow account? Do I have one?

Understanding the true cost of borrowing: What is amortization, and why does it matter?

Money Moments: Tips for selling your home

Parent checklist: Preparing for college

Which is better: Combining bank accounts before marriage — or after?

What are conforming loan limits and why are they increasing

Don’t underestimate the importance of balancing your checking account

Do you and your fiancé have compatible financial goals?

What types of credit scores qualify for a mortgage?

Should you get a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit?

Quiz: How prepared are you to buy a home?

How to establish your business credit score

What is a CLO?

Checklist: 10 questions to ask your home inspector

5 things to avoid that can devalue your home

When to consider switching banks for your business

7 steps: How couples and single parents can prepare for child care costs

Adulting 101: How to make a budget plan

What you need to know about renting

How to save for a wedding

It's possible: 7 tips for breaking the spending cycle

Personal finance for teens can empower your child

Save time and money with automatic bill pay

5 ways to spring clean your finances and save money year-round

How I did it: Bought my dream home using equity

Buying a home Q&A: What made three homeowners fall in love with their new home

How I did it: Built living spaces to support my family

Spring cleaning checklist for your home: 5 budget-boosting tasks

Saving for a down payment: Where should I keep my money?

Checklist: 6 to-dos for after a move

Webinar: Uncover the cost: Building a home

Are professional movers worth the cost?

Building a dream home that fits your life

10 questions to ask when hiring a contractor

How you can take advantage of low mortgage rates

Is it the right time to refinance your mortgage?

4 questions to ask before you buy an investment property

10 ways to increase your home’s curb appeal

Webinar: Uncover the cost: Home renovation

Is a home equity line of credit (HELOC) right for you?

10 uses for a home equity loan

Preparing for homeownership: A guide for LGBTQ+ homebuyers

Beyond the mortgage: Other costs for homeowners

How to use your home equity to finance home improvements

What to know when buying a home with your significant other

Webinar: Mortgage basics: What’s the difference between interest rate and annual percentage rate?

Webinar: Mortgage basics: How much house can you afford?

Webinar: Mortgage basics: Buying or renting – What’s right for you?

Webinar: Mortgage basics: What is refinancing, and is it right for you?

Webinar: Mortgage basics: Prequalification or pre-approval – What do I need?

Webinar: Mortgage basics: How does your credit score impact the homebuying experience?

Webinar: Mortgage basics: Finding the right home loan for you

Webinar: Mortgage basics: 3 Key steps in the homebuying process

These small home improvement projects offer big returns on investment

What is refinancing a mortgage?

6 questions to ask before buying a new home

Home equity: Small ways to improve the value of your home

Closing on a house checklist for buyers

How to prepare for a natural disaster

Student checklist: Preparing for college

Webinar: Uncover the cost: College diploma

The A to Z’s of college loan terms

Co-signing 101: Applying for a loan with co-borrower

Practical money skills and financial tips for college students

How I did it: Paid off student loans

5 tips for seniors to stay a step ahead of schemers

Recognize. React. Report. Caregivers can help protect against financial exploitation

Is online banking safe?

Identity stolen? 5 steps to take immediately

Everything you need to know about consolidating debts

Know your debt-to-income ratio

Your quick guide to loans and obtaining credit

Test your loan savvy

6 essential credit report terms to know

Is a home equity loan for college the right choice for your student

How to apply for federal student aid through the FAFSA

Be careful when taking out student loans

Your financial aid guide: What are your options?

ABL mythbusters: The truth about asset-based lending

Collateral options for ABL: What’s eligible, what’s not?

Crypto + Homebuying: Impacts on the real estate market

How jumbo loans can help home buyers and your builder business

When small companies buy big: The potential of asset-based lending

How to maximise your infrastructure finance project

Questions to ask before buying a car

What you should know about buying a car

How to choose the best car loan for you

What you need to know before buying a new or used car

Can you take advantage of the dead equity in your home?

How to get started creating your business plan

How to fund your business without using 401(k) savings

Costs to consider when starting a business

How a small business is moving forward during COVID-19

Prioritizing payroll during the COVID-19 pandemic

Investing in capital expenditures: What to discuss with key partners

Can ABL options fuel your business — and keep it running?

Tech lifecycle refresh: A tale of two philosophies

Avoiding the pitfalls of warehouse lending

At your service: Outsourcing loan agency work

Maximizing your infrastructure finance project with a full suite trustee and agent

An investor’s guide to marketplace lending

Should you buy a house that’s still under construction?

Start of disclosure content

Loan approval is subject to credit approval and program guidelines. Not all loan programs are available in all states for all loan amounts. Interest rate and program terms are subject to change without notice. Mortgage, home equity and credit products are offered by U.S. Bank National Association. Deposit products are offered by U.S. Bank National Association. Member FDIC.