By D. Scott
Dear Auntie: My boyfriend and I are trying to buy a house. We have been very lucky in being able to stay employed during this pandemic. We have been together for almost three years. Do you have any suggestions on how to do the paperwork for the house? I listen to your show, and you always say paperwork is a “marriage”. We aren’t ready to tie the knot, but we want to take the next step. We have no children and want to take advantage of the Las Vegas housing market right now. My credit isn’t that great, so the house will be in his name, but I know you said I can be added to the deed. How can I protect myself and my investment in this house when we buy? I love him, but I know things can change on both ends and don’t want to be stuck.
Lindsey from Las Vegas (by way of Ohio)
Dear Lindsey: Did you say boyfriend? I’m not sure of the Nevada laws, but let me try to answer your questions. First off, I am honored you actually listen and pay attention to my shows. A deed is a marriage when the house is owned outright. My sister and I are in fact on a deed together in Las Vegas. That property doesn’t have a mortgage. If you are on the mortgage, you are both financially responsible. Whether your relationship lasts or not, you both are on the hook for the payment. If he is the only one on the mortgage, you are clear that he can put you out (properly evict) if circumstances change, BUT you aren’t financially responsible for the house.
Right now in Las Vegas, there are eviction and mortgage freezes. Those are coming to an end. When those end, there will be a housing surplus, and the market is likely to crash. This is good for people like you who are trying to buy. Basically, people will be trying to get rid of houses due to unemployment, nonpayment of taxes, downsizing, inability to maintain the house and the fact people will be getting evicted from renting homes and apartments. If you wait until next summer, you will likely be able to get a better deal on a house. As long as your employment status doesn’t change, you should be fine. A year is also enough time to build your credit.
A first-time home buyer program only requires you to have a credit score of 580 (higher downpayment) to 620 (3.5% downpayment). That’s not hard to achieve. I would never advise anybody to live in a place they have no rights to. Especially when money is concerned, protect yourself. A lot of people don’t take advantage of these programs. You should. Three years is enough time to decipher if this is your forever person. It used to be you got married first and then bought a house and had children. However, you choose to prioritize your life — just make sure you’re protected. Also, let your boyfriend know that your income can’t be counted if you don’t qualify. Whatever home you purchase will be on his income. It may also be in his best interest to wait until your credit is a little better. Companies like Lexington Law specialize in credit repair, not the scam kind. Give it a year and watch those home prices plummet. Make sure you email me the invite for drinks. Happy house hunting.