Column: Should you purchase before or after you get married?

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The last few weeks I have had several couples and singles, approach me to see homes, condos and co-ops from Long Island into New York City.

We discussed their specific “Needs and Wants” and throughout the interview process, it was evident that they were married. However, until a conversation begins, you don’t always know their marital status; if it’s just a couple, engaged, (I usually see the ring on the fourth finger of the left hand of the wife, which is the giveaway); or married as it was disclosed to me; as well as seeing the wedding bands.

But then there are some singles that were married, or getting divorced or already divorced. But I have noticed over the years, not everyone still wears their wedding bands as was normally done in the past, so sometimes it can be challenging.

However and most importantly, one must treat everyone fairly, regardless of their marital status as well as all the other protected classes, which I will discuss in another column; but every situation presents different scenarios as to what is most important in their search for a place to live.

The question arises, should a primary residence be bought while engaged or in the varying degrees of the relationships previously mentioned. There are many ideas, thoughts, feelings and approaches on the subject.

All I can say is what I believe on a professional level, one should be aware of while considering the purchase and be cognizant of the pitfalls before, during and after a relationship leading to a marriage.

If you are single, that generally can be the easiest path to consider purchasing, assuming you are financially able, as opposed to renting, as I have always been in favor of; since there is no “significant other” to discuss it with, unless your parents or someone else is involved in the decision making.

That being said, even after you purchase, then possibly get engaged leading to your wedding vows and after, what happens then.

My daughter was in that position, while she owned her apartment, then she got engaged and then married. Even though she owned her apartment, the day after she was married her husband would now share in whatever appreciation that would accrue going forward; but that’s fair since he shares in the ongoing expenses and mortgage.

For now, I will not address this in today’s column, what would happen if there was a divorce. But, I will address this and other pertinent information next week in part 2, about what can and sometimes does happen in a divorce with real property. Engaged couples, assuming there might or might not be a wedding date have a few things to think about and consider.

Most important how long they are together and/or engaged? Assuming everything is hunky dory, fantastic! But they should still be aware that if they are both purchasing, what if something happens and they break up or call off the engagement?

Do they have any type of partnership agreement or something in writing to protect them? Will one be in a solid financial situation to be capable to buy out the other person? If only one is purchasing, but the other is sharing in all the other daily and monthly expenses, maintenance, common charges, food, etc. what can that person expect as remuneration if any, if their relationship goes south?

There are so many possibilities that could and do sometimes occur, that couples should give plenty of thought before buying and come up with a pragmatic and logical plan. Understand, I am not trying to scare or undermine the thought of purchasing or not, but just saying, that you should both think of the pros and cons; if you can figure it out successfully then building your future wealth, early on, will hopefully be much more beneficial in the future. Just make sure you are both in agreement.

The more years you are able to keep your money working (especially in real estate) and with compounding year over year, it’s a wonderful thing to experience in the long run. However, with your home, there is never a guarantee you will make money; but looking back, in history, does prove my point exceptionally well!

Philp A. Raices is the owner/Broker of Turn Key Real Estate at 3 Grace Ave Suite 180 Great Neck. He has earned designations as a Graduate of the Realtor Institute and a Certified International Property Specialist. Receive regular “free” updates of sold homes in your area and a “free” Comparative Market Analysis” of what your home would sell for in today’s market or search on: WWW.Li-RealEstate.Com He can be reached by email, at: Phil@TurnKeyRealEstate.Com, or by cell: (516) 647-4289.

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