Buying a home is a huge purchase - perhaps the single biggest purchase you'll make in your life - and buying a home with a partner who is not your legal spouse or civil partner is a great way for single people to combine their resources in order to purchase a larger (or any) property than they could on their own. However, buying a property with a romantic partner does have its disadvantages and legal complications. For the best advice about your own situation, be sure to speak with a legal professional before starting your hunt for a new, shared home.
Advantages of Buying with a Partner
Buying a property with a partner has several main advantages. To begin with you can combine your money to come up with a bigger deposit than either of you could have otherwise. You can also combine your incomes to get a larger mortgage than you would have on your own while at the same time splitting the costs of a monthly mortgage, upkeep and maintenance of the home and utility bills. This means that you may be able to afford your first home, a larger home or a home in a better area than you could have without a partner.
Disadvantages of Buying with a Partner
However there are some disadvantages to buying a home with a partners as well. To begin with you will likely need to pay extra fees up front due the extra legal costs of working through joint ownership documents. Financial arrangements may become complex, particularly if one partner is paying more than the other, and there is always the worry that if the couple breaks up, one partner becomes injured or ill, or one partner passes away that the other will no longer be able to afford to stay in the home. Disagreements over home issues also arise between partners who have bought a home together.
To avoid any negative consequences of buying a home with a partner, try to address many of the practical considerations before you go ahead and purchase a property. Ideally you'll want to set up a formal contract that discusses the percent or proportionate amount of each individual's stake in the property, how the costs of the mortgage, upkeep and maintenance will be divided, when utilities and mortgage payments will be due and what will happen if one individual is unable to cover his or her bills. You might also want to have financial and credit background checks run on both yourself and your partner so that you both understand each other's situations to the letter. You'll also likely want to live together before purchasing a home so that any day-to-day discrepancies in your lifestyle can be dealt with before the stress of buying a home together intrudes on your relationship.
The best source of information on your specific situation is to see a solicitor. An experienced legal professional will be able to let you know what to expect when buying a home with a romantic partner, what you will each need to do or provide to make the process run smoothly, and how you can each protect yourself fairly should something go awry. Visit the Law Society (www.lawsociety.org.uk) for more information on finding a solicitor in your area.