Buying a Home with a Non-Spouse

Real Estate Advisor: September 2017
When multiple people participate in a home purchase, they may not be married. They might be in a legal domestic partnership, committed relationship, common law marriage, or even strictly business partners. When it comes to buying a home with someone you’re not married to, there are things to take into consideration before making the very big decision of buying the home. Also, it’s important to check state and local laws as some states and towns have laws that prohibit unmarried couples from buying property together.
Home buying 4 - Buying a Home with a Non-Spouse

Share Financial Information

Sharing financial information is a big must when it comes to buying property with anyone (whether married or not). Financial information includes everything from income/salary, all debt (any current loans, student loan debt, car loans, etc.), credit scores, retirement accounts and any other income that might not be from a regular job. You have to be completely upfront about all finances, especially if you plan on applying for a mortgage loan. When applying for a mortgage loan, married couples have an advantage; they may be able to use the better credit history/credit score to apply for a loan; for couples that are not married, the mortgage lender will treat each person as an individual, meaning the lower of the two scores will take precedence when it comes to the terms of the loan.

Discuss and Plan Who Pays What

Buying a home is a big financial decision, and requires a sound understanding of who will be responsible for what. This includes paying any mortgage payments, household bills, property taxes, etc. If you’re purchasing a property with someone you’re not legally married to, it’s important to spell out and have a firm written ‘contract’ regarding who pays for what or how much. Before you buy, you need to agree on how much each person is going to contribute to the down payment, how much equity percentage each person will have in the property, and what each person will contribute to the mortgage, taxes, utilities, maintenance and anything else that may come up.

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Have a Joint Bank Account

While joining bank accounts with the person you buy a home with isn’t a necessity, it is a good idea to have a shared account in which each person deposits their share of the home costs. When it comes to paying a mortgage, there are easier ways to pay beyond writing a check. With the advent of online banking and automatic withdrawal, you can set up the mortgage payment to come out of a joint account on the same day each month, making the mortgage payment easy and stress-free. With a shared account, any money for household bills, property improvements, taxes and anything else that may be considered important can come out of the joint account.

Credit Surprises

For buyers applying for a mortgage loan, maintaining the same level of credit between being approved and the final closing is extremely important for a successful transaction. A person’s credit can be impacted by anything: changing jobs, getting a new credit card, closing a credit card, falling behind on payments, and even adding additional debt through large purchases. Surprises when it comes to a buyer’s credit can be a deal breaker for the lender; to prevent issues, a buyer can contact the lender ahead of closing to discuss any surprises that may have come up and come to a solution. The best way to prevent credit surprises: avoid making large financial decisions prior to closing.

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Decide On the Type of Title

When buying a home with someone you’re not married to, there are three different ways to “take title:”

Sole Ownership – This is where only one person’s name is on the title/deed, which means that one person is the only legal owner. Sometimes this choice is a good idea if one partner has poor credit and doesn’t want to be part of the mortgage decision. Other times, the higher-income partner may want to be able to use the house-related tax deductions on his/her taxes. The good news is that if the other person wants to be added to the title later on, there is a process in which to do it.

Joint Tenants – This option is available for those owners that want to have equal shares of the property. Both a benefit and a risk of this type of title is that one partner cannot sell the house without the other partner’s permission. Should one of the partners die, the “right of survivorship” guarantees the other partner inherits the other half of the property. In most states Joint Tenants comes with the right of survivorship, while in others it will need to be specifically stated on the title.

Tenants in Common – This is an option that allows multiple owners of a home/property, and for the owners to possess unequal shares. With this type of title, it is possible for any one of the owners to sell his/her share of the property at any time. Should one party die, that party’s share is left to whomever the party wished – the share doesn’t automatically go to the other owner(s). If this title is chosen, it’s important to get the percentages in writing, as very often the law will assume an equal split of the property.

Whether in a committed relationship, business partners, or buying property with a sibling/friend, property ownership is definitely a possibility. If you have any questions, your agent is able to provide additional guidance on buying a home with a non-spouse.

Closing Day Surprises

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For many buyers, closing day can’t come fast enough. Once the offer is made and accepted, the time between can seem like eternity. For many, closing day goes smoothly. For others, there may be some unexpected surprises that pop up. While closing day problems are not usually anticipated by a buyer, they are not unheard of, and depending on what kind come up, some can be minor while others can impact the entire deal. Here are some of the most common closing day surprises.

unnamed 1 300x224 - Closing Day SurprisesWalk-Through Surprises

For many buyers, a final walk-through is a must before closing as it allows the buyer to ensure the property’s condition hasn’t changed since the last visit and that any agreed-upon repairs have been done per the contract. If moving furniture created a new hole in the wall, agreed-upon fixtures have been removed, or the property is in total disarray, the issues need to be addressed immediately. The buyer’s agent should work with the seller’s agent to resolve any surprises that have come up. Walk-through issues are generally not deal breakers, but they can be a thorn in a buyer’s side.

Document Surprises

A common surprise at closing is an error in the documents. Errors can include misspelled names, incorrect addresses, and even incorrect loan amounts or missing pages. Some issues can cause an hour or two delay, while others can result in a much longer delay. To avoid any document surprises, a buyer can request to see every document ahead of closing. Loan documents should be scrutinized prior to closing; by law, a buyer should receive a Loan Estimate form and Closing Disclosure form three days before closing. Once these forms are received, it’s up to the buyer to double-check the loan amount, down payment amount, interest rate, and all personal information, including spellings. If questions arise, the sooner they’re answered the better.

Title Surprises
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When buying a home, a title company will make sure the title to a property is legitimate by doing a title search, which is essentially a thorough examination of property records to make sure the title is clear of any liens or claims on the property. Title surprises can include: IRS tax liens, unpaid property taxes, judgments, contractor or mechanics liens, identity affidavit, and encroachments. Some of these surprises can be resolved on closing day; others may take a significant amount of time to resolve and will undoubtedly delay closing. Once escrow opens, the title company completes a preliminary title report and sends it to the lender and agents involved — a buyer can get a copy from his/her lender or from the title company and check if there are any preliminary issues. Many purchase agreements include a specific time period for the buyer to bring up any concerns regarding the title, so if there are issues w ith the title, get the ball rolling on resolutions as soon as possible.

Credit Surprises

For buyers applying for a mortgage loan, maintaining the same level of credit between being approved and the final closing is extremely important for a successful transaction. A person’s credit can be impacted by anything: changing jobs, getting a new credit card, closing a credit card, falling behind on payments, and even adding additional debt through large purchases. Surprises when it comes to a buyer’s credit can be a deal breaker for the lender; to prevent issues, a buyer can contact the lender ahead of closing to discuss any surprises that may have come up and come to a solution. The best way to prevent credit surprises: avoid making large financial decisions prior to closing.

unnamed 3 300x199 - Closing Day SurprisesMortgage Surprises

Credit surprises can impact a mortgage loan, but there are other mortgage surprises that can come up on closing day. In a hot real estate market, lenders can be incredibly busy and inundated with loan applications. Sometimes, a buyer’s loan file can find itself on the bottom of the pile, meaning there may be important items omitted, documents missing, or extra information needed to complete the file on time. For a buyer applying for a mortgage loan, asking the lender what documents will be required ahead of time can save time and prevent headaches on closing day. Buyers can also call or email the lender to make sure they have all the important documents, items, etc. to complete the loan file on time. Before closing, a closing agent will be assigned to the transaction (the closing agent coordinates the final steps of the transaction to make sure all documents and funds are in order and handled correctly) — the bu yer can contact the closing agent to make sure the lender has all the needed documents, and if there is still any doubt, copies of all the documents and anything else that may seem important or pertinent to the transaction can be brought to closing.

Remember, your real estate agent is working on your behalf. Keep your agent informed — your agent wants to help you as much as possible, and he or she can be a great resource when you have questions.





Help for Homeowners

HHF DPA Flyer 1 - Help for Homeowners

Tennessee Housing Agency Development Agency offers payment assistance in 55 targeted zip codes located in 30 Tennessee counties in for qualifying applicants through he HHF (Hardest Hit Fund) Down Payment Assistance Program.

For more information on this and any other mortgage questions contact Belinda Arender – IBERIABANK Mortgage.

From Empty Nest to Full House… Multigenerational Families Are Back!

From Empty Nest to Full House… Multigenerational Families Are Back! | Simplifying The Market

Multigenerational homes are coming back in a big way! In the 1950s, about 21%, or 32.2 million Americans shared a roof with their grown children or parents. According to a recent Pew Research Center report, the number of multigenerational homes dropped to as low as 12% in 1980 but has shot back up to 19%, roughly 60.6 million people, as recently as 2014.

Multigenerational households typically occur when adult children (over the age of 25) either choose to, or need to, remain living in their parent’s home, and then have children of their own. These households also occur when grandparents join their adult children and grandchildren in their home.

According to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 11% of home buyers purchased multigenerational homes last year. The top 3 reasons for purchasing this type of home were:

  • To take care of aging parents (19%)
  • Cost savings (18%, up from 15% last year)
  • Children over the age of 18 moving back home (14%, up from 11% last year)

Donna Butts, Executive Director of Generations United, points out that,

“As the face of America is changing, so are family structures. It shouldn’t be a taboo or looked down upon if grown children are living with their families or older adults are living with their grown children.”

For a long time, nuclear families (a couple and their dependent children) became the accepted norm, but John Graham, co-author of “Together Again: A Creative Guide to Successful Multigenerational Living,” says, “We’re getting back to the way human beings have always lived in – extended families.”

This shift can be attributed to several social changes over the decades. Growing racial and ethnic diversity in the U.S. population helps explain some of the rise in multigenerational living. The Asian and Hispanic populations are more likely to live in multigenerational family households and these two groups are growing rapidly.

Additionally, women are a bit more likely to live in multigenerational conditions than are their male counterparts (20% vs. 18%, respectively). Last but not least, basic economics.

Carmen Multhauf, co-author of the book “Generational Housing: Myth or Mastery for Real Estate,” brings to light the fact that rents and home prices have been skyrocketing in recent years. She says that, “The younger generations have not been able to save,” and often struggle to get good-paying jobs.

Bottom Line

Multigenerational households are making a comeback. While it is a shift from the more common nuclear home, these households might be the answer that many families are looking for as home prices continue to rise in response to a lack of housing inventory.

You Can Never Have TMI about PMI

You Can Never Have TMI about PMI | Simplifying The Market

When it comes to buying a home, whether it is your first time or your fifth, it is always important to know all the facts. With the large number of mortgage programs available that allow buyers to purchase a home with a down payment below 20%, you can never have Too Much Information (TMI) about Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI).

What is Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)?

Freddie Mac defines PMI as:

“An insurance policy that protects the lender if you are unable to pay your mortgage. It’s a monthly fee, rolled into your mortgage payment, that is required for all conforming, conventional loans that have down payments less than 20%.

Once you’ve built equity of 20% in your home, you can cancel your PMI and remove that expense from your mortgage payment.”

As the borrower, you pay the monthly premiums for the insurance policy, and the lender is the beneficiary. Freddie Mac goes on to explain that:

“The cost of PMI varies based on your loan-to-value ratio – the amount you owe on your mortgage compared to its value – and credit score, but you can expect to pay between $30 and $70 per month for every $100,000 borrowed.” 

According to the National Association of Realtors, the average down payment for all buyers last year was 10%. For first-time buyers, that number dropped to 6%, while repeat buyers put down 14% (no doubt aided by the sale of their home). This just goes to show that for a large number of buyers last year, PMI did not stop them from buying their dream homes.

Here’s an example of the cost of a mortgage on a $200,000 home with a 5% down payment & PMI, compared to a 20% down payment without PMI:

You Can Never Have TMI about PMI | Simplifying The Market

The larger the down payment you can make, the lower your monthly housing cost will be, but Freddie Mac urges you to remember:

“It’s no doubt an added cost, but it’s enabling you to buy now and begin building equity versus waiting 5 to 10 years to build enough savings for a 20% down payment.”

Bottom Line

If you have questions about whether you should buy now or wait until you’ve saved a larger down payment, let’s get together to discuss our market’s conditions and to help you make the best decision for you and your family.

A Lack of Listings Remains ‘Huge’ Challenge in the Market

A Lack of Listings Remains ‘Huge’ Challenge in the Market | Simplifying The Market

The housing crisis is finally in the rearview mirror as the real estate market moves down the road to a complete recovery. Home values are up, home sales are up, and distressed sales (foreclosures & short sales) are at their lowest mark in over 8 years. This has been, and will continue to be, a great year for real estate.

However, there is one thing that may cause the industry to tap the brakes: a lack of housing inventory. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), buyer traffic and demand continues to be the strongest it has been in years. The supply of homes for sale has not kept up with this demand and has driven prices up in many areas as buyers compete for their dream home.

Traditionally, the winter months create a natural slowdown in the market. Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist at, points to low interest rates as one of the many reasons why buyers are still out in force looking for a home of their own.

“Overall, the fundamental trends we have been seeing all year remain solidly in place as we enter the traditionally slower sales season, and pent-up demand remains substantial as buyers seek to get a home under contract while rates remain so low.”

NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, points out that the inventory shortage we are currently experiencing isn’t a new challenge by any means:

“Inventory has been extremely tight all year and is unlikely to improve now that the seasonal decline in listings is about to kick in. Unfortunately, there won’t be much relief from new home construction, which continues to be grossly inadequate in relation to demand.”

Bottom Line

Healthy labor markets and job growth have created more and more buyers who are not just ready and willing to buy but are also able to. If you are debating whether or not to put your home on the market this year, now is the time to take advantage of the demand in the market.

Why Waiting Until After the Holidays to Sell Isn’t a Smart Decision

Why Waiting Until After the Holidays to Sell Isn’t a Smart Decision | Simplifying The Market

Every year at this time, many homeowners decide to wait until after the holidays to put their homes on the market for the first time, while others who already have their homes on the market decide to take them off until after the holidays. Here are six great reasons not to wait:

  1. Relocation buyers are out there. Companies are not concerned with holiday time and if the buyers have kids, they want them to get into school after the holidays. 
  1. Purchasers that are looking for a home during the holidays are serious buyers and are ready to buy.
  1. You can restrict the showings on your home to the times you want it shown. You will remain in control.
  1. Homes show better when decorated for the holidays. 
  1. There is less competition for you as a seller right now. Let’s take a look at listing inventory as compared to the same time last year:

Why Waiting Until After the Holidays to Sell Isn’t a Smart Decision | Simplifying The Market

  1. The supply of listings increases substantially after the holidays. Also, in many parts of the country, new construction will continue to surge reaching new heights in 2017, which will lessen the demand for your house.

Bottom Line

Waiting until after the holidays to sell your home probably doesn’t make sense.

The Truth About Housing Affordability

The Truth About Housing Affordability | Simplifying The Market

From a purely economic perspective, this is one of the best times in American history to buy a home. Black Night Financial Services discusses this in their most recent Monthly Mortgage Monitor.

Here are two of the report’s revelations:

  1. The average U.S. home value increased by $13,500 from last year, but low interest rates have kept the monthly principal & interest payment needed to purchase a median-priced home almost equal to one year ago.
  2. Home affordability still remains favorable compared to long-term historic norms.

The report explains:

“Even though the value of the average home in the U.S. increased by about $13,500 over the last year, thanks to declining interest rates it actually costs almost exactly the same in principal and interest each month to purchase as it did this time last year.

Even taking into account the fact that affordability can vary – sometimes significantly – across the country based upon the different rates of home price appreciation we’re seeing, that’s a pretty incredible balancing act between interest rates and home prices at the national level…

Right now, it takes 20 percent of the median monthly income to cover monthly payments on the median-priced home, which is well below historical norms.”

However, the report warns that affordability will be dramatically impacted by an increase in mortgage rates.

“A half-point increase in interest rates would be equivalent to a $17,000 jump in the average home price, and bring that ratio to 21.5 percent. This increase is still below historical norms, but puts more pressure on homebuyers.”

Bottom Line

If you are ready and willing to purchase a home of your own, let’s get together to find out if you are able to. Now is a great time to jump in.