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Love and Mortgage: Advice for Unmarried Couples Buying Houses

Advice for Unmarried Couples Buying Houses
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San Diego, CA – Rising home values, low interest rates and a shortage of listings in southern California mean that although not every couple is ready to tie the knot yet, many of them are ready to play house.

Eight percent of homebuyers in 2017 were unmarried couples, according to the National Association of Realtors Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends report. Thirteen percent of millennials who purchased homes last year were unmarried couples, which represented the largest share of all generations.

This trend has been around for a few years. One in four couples ages 18-34, and 14 percent of couples ages 45 and older bought homes together before they were married, according to the 2013 Coldwell Banker Marriage and Homebuying Study.

Avoid the Pitfalls

Before you find that dream home and imagine where you’ll place the sofa, follow these tips to help combat the risks associated with such a purchase.

There are laws in place to protect property rights in the event that a married couple decides to divorce, said San Diego family lawyer John Griffith. California’s community property laws state that property acquired during the marriage must be divided equally.

“But things can be a bit more murky when it comes to determining who gets the house when an unmarried couple breaks up,” Griffith said.

Get a “prenup” for the house. An attorney who specializes in family or real estate law can help you draft a contract that addresses possible outcomes.

The contract should outline what happens to the property if you break up, or what to do in the event that one person becomes disabled or passes away, according to NerdWallet. This contract also can outline which person is responsible for paying utility expenses and repairs.

An attorney also may offer advice on the best way to hold title on a home. In California, there are four options:

  • Sole ownership- The home is in one person’s name.
  • Tenants in common- The home is in both partners’ names, but it doesn’t have to be a 50-50 split.
  • Community property- This is an option for married couples and domestic partners. Each person owns 50 percent of the property.
  • Joint tenancy with right of survivorship- Each person owns half of the property and if one owner dies, the surviving owner becomes the sole owner of the property.

The Benefits

Home ownership is almost always a wise investment, and there are several notable benefits to taking the plunge even if you aren’t married.

Rental costs are on the rise throughout the country. “The national average apartment rent in 2017 increased by 2.5 percent… at the end of 2017, and San Diego ranked third in highest rate increases in 2017 of all large cities, according to Rent Café.

Purchasing a home means that you have something to show for your money.

Mortgage rates remain low, even though they have begun to inch upward in 2018. Low mortgage rates can save homeowners thousands in interest through the life of a loan.

If you bought your home after Dec. 14, 2017, you can deduct mortgage interest from income taxes on up to $750,000 in mortgage debt used to purchase or improve a home as an itemized deduction, according to Forbes. If you purchased your home prior to President Donald Trump signing the new tax law into effect on Dec. 14, you can deduct interest on up to $1 million in mortgage debt.

Unmarried couples who plan to purchase a home together have twice the buying power of a single person purchasing a house, which means they may be better able to meet the price increases of this housing market.

Please call our office to schedule a consultation if you would like assistance in making your homeownership dreams come true, while protecting your interests in the unfortunate event that you and your partner part ways.

© 2018 Millionairium and Griffith, Young & Lass. Authorization to post is granted, with the stipulation that Millionairium and Griffith, Young & Lass are credited as sole source. Linking to other sites from this document is strictly prohibited, with the exception of herein imbedded links.

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Meet Your Dedicated San Diego Family Attorneys
Family Attorney John N. Griffith, CFLS
Family Attorney John N. Griffith, CFLS

Family Attorney, John N. Griffith, CFLS

John Griffith has practiced exclusively in the area of family law since 2009. John is a Certified Family Law Specialist certified as an expert in the area of family law by the California Board of Legal Specialization.


Family Attorney, Catie E. Young, ESQ.
Family Attorney, Catie E. Young, ESQ.

Family Attorney, Catie E. Young, ESQ.

San Diego family lawyer Catie Young has a wide range of litigation experience. She has worked in civil litigation. She has successfully represented clients in many areas of family law including child support, child custody, divorce and domestic violence. She has a unique approach to each child custody case, so clients of Griffith, Young & Lass tend to gravitate toward her in these cases.


Family Attorney Amy J. Lass, CFLS
Family Attorney Amy J. Lass, CFLS

Family Attorney, Amy J. Lass, CFLS

Amy Lass was born in New York and raised in San Diego, California. Amy graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 2003 with a B.S. in Economics with a concentration in Enterprise Accounting and went on to earn her law degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law and graduated cum laude in 2006. Amy takes a practical and cost considerate approach to the process while striving to balance the emotional needs and objectives of her clients.


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