Top tips when buying a property with your partner

Taking out a mortgage together means commitment, compromise and a number of considerations.

For starry-eyed couples, buying a home and moving in together can be an exciting time.

It’s also a big step in a relationship, particularly as the most common loan terms in Australia are 25 and 30 years1, and a mortgage is likely to be the biggest debt you’ll ever take on together.

With that in mind, there are some financial considerations you’ll want to discuss with your partner early on, which could also help you to avoid any nasty situations down the track.

Are you on the same page?

Before you start researching lenders and trawling through real estate websites, there are a few things you should probably discuss with your partner first, if you haven’t already.

This might include things like:

  • Your views on money management
  • Your financial situation—income, expenses, assets and debts
  • Your credit history, as this could impact your borrowing potential
  • The amount of money you’ve both saved and whether your parents might assist
  • Your shared financial goals outside of property—travel, marriage, children
  • Your job security and whether you see a career change on the cards
  • Your contingency plan if one of you is unable to work at some point in the future.

These are important things to address as they could impact the type of property you buy, the price you’re willing to pay and factors such as whether you move in to the property or rent it out.

It might also determine how you’ll split the deposit, the repayments, insurances and things like incidental costs.

Have you done your research?

Once you’ve had an open conversation about each other’s financial situation, it’s important to ensure you’re both across the costs involved with home ownership—government fees, interest charges etc.

For a full run-down of the upfront and ongoing costs you’re likely to come across, and a handy checklist, check out our article: How much it really costs to buy a property.

Another major element will be how much you can borrow, which will depend on things like the deposit you've saved, your income and any other debts you have.

If you're entering the property market for the first time, check out our nine tips for first home buyers. You may also want to look into the government rebates available and what you can expect in the weeks leading up to settlement.

What should you put in writing?

There can be different rules for married and unmarried couples but whatever your situation, it’s good to put things in writing just in case the unexpected happens.

Sign a co-purchase agreement

This is a legally-binding document that will detail each person’s rights and responsibilities, including how mortgage repayments will be divided, as well as how disputes will be resolved should the relationship break down or someone fails to make repayments.2

Be conscious of joint and several liability

This is a clause under which you’re both jointly responsible for each other’s debts, meaning if your partner doesn’t pay, the bank can come after you. It’s a good idea to address this in your co-purchase agreement and see what the bank can do to limit your liability as a co-borrower.3

Decide if you’ll be joint tenants or tenants in common

Many married couples choose joint tenancy so if one dies, the property automatically transfers to the surviving spouse. A tenant in common arrangement however, can make it easier to divide and sell your share of the title, which could be helpful if the relationship breaks down.4

How can you operate effectively as a team?

To help you on your way, we have a range of tools that may be able to assist on the road ahead.

You may also want to speak to your adviser and if you don’t have one you can call us on 131 267.

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© AMP Life Limited. This provides general information and hasn’t taken your circumstances into account. It’s important to consider your particular circumstances before deciding what’s right for you. Although the information is from sources considered reliable, AMP does not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. You should not rely upon it and should seek qualified advice before making any investment decision. Except where liability under any statute cannot be excluded, AMP does not accept any liability (whether under contract, tort or otherwise) for any resulting loss or damage of the reader or any other person.