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

What is refinancing a mortgage?

Don’t underestimate the importance of balancing your checking account

Multiple accounts can make it easier to follow a monthly budget

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

Mortgage basics: Finding the right home loan for you

Mortgage basics: How much house can you afford?

Mortgage basics: 3 key steps in the homebuying process

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

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

Uncover the cost: Building a home

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

10 ways to increase your home’s curb appeal

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

What is a CLO?

An investor’s guide to marketplace lending

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

Housing market trends and relocation impact

5 things to avoid that can devalue your home

What are conforming loan limits and why are they increasing

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

Avoiding the pitfalls of warehouse lending

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

8 steps to take before you buy a home

Evaluating interest rate risk creating risk management strategy

Money Moments: How to finance a home addition

Checklist: 6 to-dos for after a move

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

Why other lenders may be reaching out to your employees

What’s the difference between Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?

4 benefits of independent loan agents

High-cost housing and down payment options in relocation

A checklist for starting a mobility program review

At your service: outsourcing loan agency work

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

Crypto + Relo: Mobility industry impacts

Changes in credit reporting and what it means for homebuyers

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

Checklist: 10 questions to ask your home inspector

Closing on a house checklist for buyers

These small home improvement projects offer big returns on investment

Dear Money Mentor: What is cash-out refinancing and is it right for you?

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

How to get started creating your business plan

The lowdown on 6 myths about buying a home

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

ABL mythbusters: The truth about asset-based lending

Checklist: financial recovery after a natural disaster

Are you ready to restart your federal student loan payments?

3 tips for saving money when moving to a new home

5 ways to maximize your garage sale profits 

Pros and cons of a personal line credit

For today's homebuyers, time and money are everything

6 essential credit report terms to know

Middle-market direct lending: Obstacles and opportunities

How jumbo loans can help home buyers and your builder business

Prioritizing payroll during the COVID-19 pandemic

5 tips to help you land a small business loan

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

How to establish your business credit score

Opening a business on a budget during COVID-19

When to consider switching banks for your business

Is raising backyard chickens a good idea financially?

7 steps to prepare for the high cost of child care

How to save for a wedding

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

Tech lifecycle refresh: A tale of two philosophies

What types of credit scores qualify for a mortgage?

Test your loan savvy

How do I prequalify for a mortgage?

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

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

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

How to use your home equity to finance home improvements

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

6 questions to ask before buying a new home

What is an escrow account? Do I have one?

Quiz: How prepared are you to buy a home?

10 questions to ask when hiring a contractor

What to know when buying a home with your significant other

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

Dear Money Mentor: When should I refinance a mortgage?

Building a dream home that fits your life

Are professional movers worth the cost?

First-time homebuyer’s guide to getting a mortgage

Beyond the mortgage: Other costs for homeowners

How I did it: Bought my dream home using equity

Get more home for your money with these tips

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

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

Managing the impacts of appraisal gaps in a hot housing market

Is it the right time to refinance your mortgage?

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

Overcoming high interest rates: Getting your homeownership goals back on track

Home buying myths: Realities of owning a home

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

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

10 uses for a home equity loan

Know your debt-to-income ratio

Your guide to breaking the rental cycle

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

How to apply for federal student aid through the FAFSA

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

Save time and money with automatic bill pay

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

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

What to consider before taking out a student loan

Here’s how to create a budget for yourself

Common unexpected expenses and three ways to pay for them

9 simple ways to save

Do you and your fiancé have compatible financial goals?

Is online banking safe?

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

How I did it: Paid off student loans

The A to Z’s of college loan terms

Costs to consider when starting a business

Questions to ask before buying a car

Adulting 101: How to make a budget plan

You can take these 18 budgeting tips straight to the bank

Your financial aid guide: What are your options?

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

How you can take advantage of low mortgage rates

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

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

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

What you need to know about renting

What you should know about buying a car

Take the stress out of buying your teen a car

How to choose the best car loan for you

Practical money skills and financial tips for college students

Personal finance for teens can empower your child

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

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

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

How to use debt to build wealth

Money Moments: Tips for selling your home

How I did it: My house remodel

Everything you need to know about consolidating debts

Student checklist: Preparing for college

Webinar: Uncover the cost: College diploma

Crypto + Homebuying: Impacts on the real estate market

Your quick guide to loans and obtaining credit

4 questions to ask before you buy an investment property

Preparing for homeownership: A guide for LGBTQ+ homebuyers

Parent checklist: Preparing for college

Evaluating interest rate risk creating risk management strategy

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 through U.S. Bank National Association. Deposit products are offered through U.S. Bank National Association. Member FDIC.