Should You Buy a House Before You're Married?


1. What factors should you consider before buying a home together before marriage?

While you’re building a home together, you’re not technically bound together legally until you’re married. Protect yourself against any losses or discomfort in the future by making sure that both of your names are on the housing deed. In the event that the unthinkable happens (i.e., you break up) you will both have an equal stake in the sale of the house and its contents.

2. Should you and your significant other combine finances, or keep them separate until marriage?
This is a personal choice, but we recommend keeping one spending line and one savings line just for you. Again, you’re in love and we hope you stay that way, but in lieu of a formal divorce should you break up you want to have assets in your name, at your disposal. And you don’t want your credit score—aka your financial report card—tied to someone else’s finances, just in case. Tackle housing costs, groceries, auto maintenance, etc. together, but your personal savings as well as the “fun stuff”—clothes, salon visits, travel—is on you.

3. What should you know (financially) about each other, and how do you start that conversation?
When to bring it up: Early on! Better to get any uncomfortable or even embarrassing news out on the table before things get serious enough for it to become a deal breaker. This is where you could make known any unusual health conditions, family irregularities, or even past relationships that may come up in the future. And, of course, any pesky credit card debt, student loans, or financial goals that are important to you.

How to bring it up: This is a delicate topic for men and women. So set yourselves up in a mutually comfortable, non-chaotic and un-rushed environment. The important thing to convey and establish here is sincerity. Men: give your girlfriend a realistic idea of your financial status so that it is never assumed you are in a position which you are not. You don’t want to start the relationship by setting unreal expectations from her — and hey, if she doesn’t love you for you no matter how heavy your wallet is, it may not work out anyway. Women: It is more appropriate for you to reveal your financial status by showing him than telling him. This way, you can make your situation obvious without bruising his ego or threatening any dynamic perceptions he might have.

4. How might the decision to buy a house change our relationship, and how can we work through it?
It sounds cliché, but communication is key, especially when it comes to money. Don’t ever assume that your significant other understands your financial picture and mores simply by osmosis. Set goals—together. Discuss what your goals and purposes are for the relationship. Whether it’s just for fun or for life, being on the same page with your goals and purposes aligned is key to the success and longevity of the relationship.

—Nicole Lapin The Bridal Guide