Buying a Home as an Unmarried Couple? Do These 3 Things

Overcome the risks with planning, a lawyer and a slightly awkward conversation or two.
Beth Buczynski
By Beth Buczynski 
Updated
Edited by Tim Manni
Buying a Home Without Borrowing Trouble: Advice for Unmarried Couples

Some or all of the mortgage lenders featured on our site are advertising partners of NerdWallet, but this does not influence our evaluations, lender star ratings or the order in which lenders are listed on the page. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners.

Love and marriage don’t always go together, no matter what Sinatra says. If you’re in a committed relationship but nuptials are on the back burner, just know your dream of buying a home doesn’t have to be.

In 2019, unmarried couples made up 21% of home buyers ages 22 to 29, an annual National Association of Realtors report found. More than 85% were first-time home buyers.

But many couples don’t realize how risky buying a home with an unmarried partner can be. Here’s how to overcome these risks with some planning, a good lawyer and a slightly awkward conversation or two.

Video preview image

1. Sign a prenup... for the house

No couple wants to talk about breaking up, but if you’re going to be co-homeowners, it’s a must, says Renee Bergmann, a real estate attorney and owner of Bergmann Law LLC in Westmont, New Jersey. She recommends unmarried couples create a co-ownership contract with the help of a legal professional before closing day.

The agreement should answer basic questions like: What happens to the property if you split? What if one of you becomes disabled or dies? Who pays utility bills or for major repairs?

Don’t just “wait and see what happens,” Bergmann says, because without a written agreement “things could get messy very quickly.”

Mortgage loans from our partners

New American Funding - PURCHASE logo
Check Rate

on New American Funding

New American Funding

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
New American Funding - PURCHASE logo

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Min. credit score 
500

Min. down payment 
3.5%

Check Rate

on New American Funding

NBKC - PURCHASE logo
Check Rate

on NBKC

NBKC

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
NBKC - PURCHASE logo

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Min. credit score 
620

Min. down payment 
3%

Check Rate

on NBKC

Prosperity Home Mortgage - PURCHASE logo
Check Rate

on Prosperity Home Mortgage

Prosperity Home Mortgage

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
Prosperity Home Mortgage - PURCHASE logo

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
Min. credit score 
580

Min. down payment 

0%

Check Rate

on Prosperity Home Mortgage

Veterans United - PURCHASE logo
Check Rate

on Veterans United

Veterans United

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Veterans United - PURCHASE logo

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Min. credit score 
620

Min. down payment 
0%

Check Rate

on Veterans United

Better - PURCHASE logo
Check Rate

on Better

Better

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Better - PURCHASE logo

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Min. credit score 
620

Min. down payment 
3%

Check Rate

on Better

Mortgage loans from our partners

New American Funding - PURCHASE logo
Check Rate

on New American Funding

New American Funding

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
New American Funding - PURCHASE logo

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Min. credit score 
500

Min. down payment 
3.5%

Check Rate

on New American Funding

NBKC - PURCHASE logo
Check Rate

on NBKC

NBKC

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
NBKC - PURCHASE logo

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Min. credit score 
620

Min. down payment 
3%

Check Rate

on NBKC

Prosperity Home Mortgage - PURCHASE logo
Check Rate

on Prosperity Home Mortgage

Prosperity Home Mortgage

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
Prosperity Home Mortgage - PURCHASE logo

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
Min. credit score 
580

Min. down payment 

0%

Check Rate

on Prosperity Home Mortgage